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Manchego Magnificent In Breeders Crown

Published: October 26, 2019 8:32 pm ET

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Becoming harness racing's newest double millionaire, trotting mare Manchego was in career form with an open-length victory to capture the $425,750 ($325,000 USD) 2019 Breeders Crown Open Mare Trot on Saturday (Oct. 26) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Second choice Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) outsprinted the outermost starter and two-time defending champion Emoticon Hanover (Dan Dube) off the gate with favoured Manchego (Dexter Dunn) in third through a brisk :26.1 opening panel. Dunn right-lined Manchego from third and pointed his charge to the front. Svanstedt took hold of Plunge Blue Chip, and Manchego was able to clear to the lead.

The pressure on the favourite came right around the :55.3 midway mark of the mile as Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras) was first-up and driving, pulling Custom Cantab (David Miller) into the race second over. As the third station flashed up in 1:23.4, Manchego was still trotting comfortably with the field in striking distance.

That proximity changed as Manchego hit the head of the lane. She hit another gear and her rivals had no reply whatsoever to that closing kick as the fastest female trotter in harness racing history widened her lead with each stride. She hit the line some seven lengths the best in a Breeders Crown record 1:51. Emoticon Hanover found room late and nabbed Plunge Blue Chip for second, with Weslynn Dancer (Scott Zeron) and Hannelore Hanover dead-heating for fourth.

"She certainly makes my job easy and tonight she felt great once again," said Dunn in the winner's circle. "She's just in such good form. She was such a great filly at two and three, and now this last half of this season she's just exploded.

"It's hard to believe. Back in New Zealand I'd follow the North American racing, races like Hambo Day and the Breeders Crown...and now I'm here. It's really exciting."

Originally slated to be retired at the end of her three-year-old season, Manchego now sports 26 lifetime wins from 41 starts and more than $2.1 million in career earnings. Nancy Johansson trains the daughter of Muscle Hill - Secret Magic for Black Horse Racing of Lebanon, N.J.

"I’m happy, I think so, from the 10 hole" said Luc Blais, trainer of second-place finisher Emoticon Hanover. "Everything turned right and gave (driver Dan Dube) a chance to be in the race and turned out very well. The 10 hole, you have to leave a little bit and see what’s going on. That’s the driver’s plan. After that, he’s got the controls.

"That’s a very nice mare. We’re going to go to the TVG, for sure."

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