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Linda Toscano -- the first woman to win harness racing’s Trainer of the Year honor -- has been a presence at Batavia Downs Casino.

“She wins here at a very high percentage,” Todd Haight, General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs Casino said. “Her two-year-old colt and gelding pacer named Doctor Butch actually set a new track record at Batavia Downs at 1-minute, 54.2-seconds which is extremely fast for a 2-year-old.”

Haight says Toscano’s reputation speaks for itself.

“Linda certainly has an unbelievable reputation in harness racing,” he said. “She has created some of the top trotters and pacers in the sport and has done that for many, many years now.”

Being a successful trainer in harness racing, Haight says, requires supportive ownership, but also a keen eye for promising yearlings and a commitment to developing an athletic competitor. Haight says there are few female trainers involved with harness racing, but that the sport is changing.

Toscano’s accomplishments this season include winning the second leg of harness racing’s version of the triple-crown.

“The Hambletonian that Linda won this year,” Haight said, “actually denied a local horse a chance at the triple crown. There’s a horse stable in Piffard, N.Y., -- Archangel won the first leg of trotting’s triple crown. The Hambletonian is basically the showcase race of harness racing.”

After the Hambletonian race in the beginning of August, Toscano compared the “surreal” victory to winning an Oscar or throwing a perfect game.

She is also the trainer of Chapter Seven, 2012's Harness Horse of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Best Older Trotter. Market Share was voted the top 3-year-old male trotter and Heston Blue Chip was the best 3-year-old male pacer, both also trained by Toscano.

The 57-year-old Brooklyn native’s stable earned $6.7 million in purses in 2012 and included three division champions.

Toscano’s father started her in harness racing because she found thoroughbred racing “a little impersonal.”

She called winning the Trainer of the Year award an proud accomplishment.

“I’m thrilled,” Toscano said via USTA. “It’s such an honor, really overwhelming, and the culmination of an incredible year. You work a lifetime and all of a sudden everything happens.”

“I really care more about the horses than I do about the accolades," she said. "We try to do the right things and we just hope that the right things happen. It just happened to be one of those years where the stars aligned and everything fell into place.”

Toscano – who was named the winner on 122 of 130 votes cast by writers for the biggest margin of victory in the sport -- will be awarded on March 3rd at the Dan Patch Awards in Fort Lauderdale.

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