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Manchego holds off Atlanta in 1:50

June 20, 2020
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The finish was so tight in Friday night’s Miss Versatility at the Meadowlands, even the drivers were miffed when the official results were posted.
 
“I thought I got up for sure,” said Yannick Gingras, who guided Atlanta to a second-place finish, just a small nose behind Manchego in the first leg of the $40,000 event for open mare trotters. “They called my number [four] in the paddock, then they changed it to the six.”
 
“I looked at the big screen [when we hit the wire] and I thought Yannick had won,” said Manchego’s pilot, Dexter Dunn. “I thought he got up.”
 
The photo-finish camera yielded a different result from what the drivers thought, as Manchego got the better of Atlanta in a season’s-fastest trotting mile of 1:50 in the first of what harness racing fans hope is many 2020 editions of this first-rate rivalry of magnificent mares.
 
In the early action of the prolific pair’s first matchup of the season, Felicityshagwell S was away well and led at the quarter in :27.2. Atlanta, the 2-1 second choice who was making her seasonal debut, popped out of the three-hole to clear the top at the three-eighths, only to have Manchego – making her second start – challenge and poke a nose in front at the half in :56.
 
“He had to move her when he did,” said winning trainer Nancy Takter of Manchego’s aggressive backside surge to the lead.
 
Manchego had the top at the five-eighths and around the far turn before a cutthroat duel developed in the stretch.
 
Gingras moved Atlanta off the rail with a little more than an eighth-of-a-mile to go and made steady progress through the stretch but could not get past her rival in a titillating thriller. “She never exceeds my expectations,” said Gingras. “I knew she was ready.”
 
Takter did not agree with the drivers when it came to the finish. “I thought Manchego held on. She’s tough to pass.”
 
As the 1-5 favorite, Manchego, a 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic, paid $2.60 to win, and now has 29 victories from 45 career starts for owners Black Horse Racing. Her earnings now stand at $2,154,980. Kenziesky Hanover finished third.
 
“It’s going to be an interesting season with these two mares,” said Takter.
 
No doubt about that. Better keep the photo-finish camera ready.
 
BIG CARD, BIG BETTING: No doubt helped by an additional five races on the program, carded in an effort to get some horses raced who have been idle during the coronavirus shutdown, all-source wagering totaled $3,481,817 for the 18 races, a track and industry 2020 best.
 
NJSS ACTION BEGINS: New Jersey Sire Stakes action for 2020 got underway with five divisions for 3-year-olds.
 
Dubai Princess (Trixton-La Riviera Lindy) scored in wire-to-wire fashion at 14-1 in 1:52 for driver Gingras and trainer Takter in the first of two filly trots. Even-money chance Spoiled Princess (Trixton-Fashion Spooner) also won on the front end, stopping the clock in 1:53.4 for Dunn and Nifty Norman.
 
Odds On Sarasota (Rock N Roll Heaven-Odds On Charmaine) won the filly pace in speed fashion in 1:53.1 at odds of 3-2 for Tim Tetrick and Ross Croghan; Jula Trix Treasure (Trixton-Victory Treasure) took the colt and gelding trot from off the pace at 8-1 in 1:54 for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt; and Rock Me Hard (Rock N Roll Heaven-Scarlet McZara) came from behind to win the colt and gelding pace in 1:51.4 at 7-5 for Tetrick and Bart Dalious.
 
A LITTLE MORE: Tetrick had the hot hand among the drivers, scoring six times on the card, while Dunn had three. Dave Miller and Gingras had two apiece… Favorites ruled, hitting the wire first 11 times during the night. … Racing resumes Saturday with another 18-race program that gets underway at 6 p.m., 18 minutes after the running of the 152nd Belmont Stakes. (Meadowlands)
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