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Manchego Brilliant In Swan Song

Published: November 21, 2020 8:03 pm ET

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Fresh off her win in the Breeders Crown, Manchego came up monstrous yet again with a breathtaking victory in come-from-behind fashion in the $320,000 final of the TVG Open Trot.

In what was her final career start, the five-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic was permitted to sit fourth for the majority of the mile while Crystal Fashion stole away on the lead through facile, first-half fractions of :28 and :57. The leader kicked out a third quarter in :27.1 to take the field to the three-quarter pole in 1:24.1, but he couldn’t go the distance.

Atlanta fired from the pocket and Dexter Dunn swung wide at the head of the lane with Manchego. The Nancy Takter trainee powered up in the lane and stormed by to win convincingly over Atlanta in 1:51.3. Lindy The Great took home third prize.

Manchego, who was owned by Black Horse Racing of Lebanon, NJ, finished her 2020 season with a 6-2-2 record from 13 trips to the track. The 33-time winner retired with career earnings of $2,857,315.

Her victories included the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages two, four, and five. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a mark of 1:49.3 in this year’s Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park.

Manchego is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years. She has been the sport’s fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020.

In 2017, Manchego won all 12 of her starts and became the first undefeated two-year-old filly trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten two-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. With her Breeders Crown triumph last month, she joined Peace Corps and Grades Singing as the only female trotters with at least three trophies.

Manchego was trained by Jimmy Takter at ages two and three, and Nancy Takter at four and five. She is owned by Barry Guariglia’s Black Horse Racing and was bred by Brittany Farms.

“She’s just a super mare,” Nancy Takter said. “She’s been great since the first moment that she ever set foot on the track.

“When you get the call that you get to train a horse like Manchego, those calls probably aren’t going to come very many times in my life, so I appreciate every moment that I had with her. She’s just an unbelievable mare. She makes my job easy, she makes all of us look good around her, because she’s just such a professional.

“It’s fitting that the first time she ever went behind the gate was at The Meadowlands and she gets to finish her career here with a win,” Takter said. “She started her career with a win at The Meadowlands and she’s going to end it the same way.”

Said Guariglia, “It feels wonderful. She almost made that look too easy. She’s super sharp right now. I was a little nervous when they got to the half in :57; she probably hasn’t seen that since she trained back in March. Win or lose, I was ready for the emotions tonight. But, obviously, it’s great to win.”

Manchego, the slight even-money favourite over Atlanta, paid $4.00 to win.

The TVG Open Trot was one of a number of major races on a stakes-packed Saturday card at The Meadowlands. Check out the rest of the recaps in the TVG / Fall Final Four News Centre

(with files from USTA)

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