New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher awarded the 2012 Governor's Award for Horseperson of the Year to Linda Toscano, one of harness racing's most successful trainers, at the 56th annual Breeders' Luncheon in Eastampton on January 27.
Toscano, who lives in Freehold, trained the 2012 Standardbred Horse of the Year, Chapter Seven. Over the course of her career, Toscano has had 1,439 wins and $34 million in purses. This year she won a career best of $6.71 million.
"Linda Toscano is a committed and passionate advocate for the harness racing industry in New Jersey,” said Secretary Fisher. "Through her hard work and dedication, she has contributed to the success of several Jersey Bred horses, bringing great pride to the Garden State over the years.”
On behalf of the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board, a committee of past Horsepersons of the Year chose to recognize Toscano, who, in August, became the first female trainer to win the prestigious Hambletonian with Jersey-bred Market Share. She began her career by working summers at the stables at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, NY. During her career, she worked with veteran trainer Buddy Regan and Hall of Famers Buddy Gilmour and John Campbell.
In addition to the Governor's Trophy, the annual Breeder's Luncheon celebrated the state's best in the equine field in 2012. Other awards presented at the event were:
Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey-bred Thoroughbred Horse of the Year: Javerre.Owned by Smith Farm & Stable and trained by Cal Lynch, Javerre was a winner of four of his seven starts this year. He won his first three races of the year at Monmouth Park, quickly becoming one of the more talked about horses during the early portion of the 2012 Monmouth Park meet. The son of Outflanker captured the $60,000 New Jersey Breeder's Handicap on September 15 at Monmouth Park in his fifth start. Bred in New Jersey by Gunsmith Stables, Javerre finished the year with $158,170 in earnings. Javerre is the product of a New Jersey broodmare family bred by Gunsmith Stables that goes back to the multiple graded stakes winner, Avie's Fancy. Avie's Fancy, the third dam of Javerre, earned $402,909 during her career.
Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey Standardbred Horse of the Year: Chapter Seven. The New Jersey-sired son of Windsong's Legacy was bred in the Garden State by Richard Banca of Franklin Lakes. The 4-year-old won eight of his 10 starts this year and tied the world record of 1:50.1 by winning the Nat Ray Invitational at the Meadowlands. He also won the $600,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot. Chapter Seven is co-owned by Richard Gutnick, Southwind Farm and Jerry and Theresa Silva and was trained by Linda Toscano. He earned $1.02 million in purses
New Jersey Sire Stakes -- Premier Horse of the Year: Sarandon Blue Chip. Daughter of Western Ideal, Sarandon Blue Chip was the winner of the two biggest races for three-year-old pacing fillies in New Jersey-sired competition this year at the Meadowlands. She earned $188,509 in purses in 2012 for co-owners Casie Coleman Stables of Ontario and Tom Hill of the United Kingdom. She is trained by Casie Coleman. Green Acres Horse of the Year: Aunt Mel. The three-year-old trotting filly was winner of five NJ-sired races at Freehold Raceway in 2012, earning $52,085 of her $139,420 overall 2012 purse money in New Jersey. The daughter of Yankee Glide is owned by Mary Jane Anderson of Long Grove, IL and trained by Erv Miller.
New Jersey Equestrienne of the Year: Katie Washart, Seaville. Washart, 18, a freshman pre-med student at Washington College in Maryland. Washart received a $250 scholarship and was chosen based on her ability to communicate and her knowledge of horses, as well as being well-versed in many phases of the horse industry.
New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award: Kristie VonThun, Monmouth Junction. VonThun was awarded a $500 scholarship, sponsored by Amy Butewicz, a former New Jersey Equestrian of the Year who wanted to give back to the community. She was selected based upon her essay, which answered the question: "How has your involvement within 4-H helped to shape your future career choice?”
Sara Dubinin Scholarship: Juliana Isnardi, Plainsboro. Isnardi was the winner of a $1,000 scholarship in memory of Sara Dubinin, a Sayreville equestrian who was the victim of a car accident in 2007. She was selected based on her essay on "How horses have affected my life and how horses figure into my future.”Bell Scholarship:Monica Smetts, Brick. The scholarship is named for Ernest C. Bell, a horse breeder and one of the founders of the Equine Advisory Board. Smetts, a Rutgers University senior, received a $1,000 scholarship to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. (NJ Dept. of Agriculture)