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Manchego Remains Perfect

Published: June 12, 2018 11:16 pm ET

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Manchego kept her place in the spotlight intact Tuesday night (June 12) in one of four $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old trotting fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, overcoming a first-over trip to post a 1:52.4 victory.

The undefeated daughter of Muscle Hill found herself in the middle of a quintet of strong leavers, and Yannick Gingras backed the winner of $917,188 into a midpack tuck, then started first-over on the second turn in pursuit of Nixie Volo, who had been responsible for the early numbers of :27.1 and :56.3. Manchego started to gain the advantage at the 1:24.4 three-quarters, but for a second the upset-minded had a thrill, as Nixie Volo kept the champion out on the turn. But Manchego simply increased her distance consumption in her effortless way, coming home two lengths to the good of late-closing Top Expectations, with Nixie Volo another 1-1/4 lengths back in third. Manchego’s 1:52.4 mile equaled her personal mark, achieved last year at both Mohawk and Lexington.

Manchego (Yannick Gingras up) extending her career record to a perfect 14-for-14

Jimmy Takter had the filly in top shape after a 22-day racetrack layoff, getting her 14th win in succession without much of a sweat for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Manchego commanded so much of the crowd’s respect, she drew almost $19,000 of the $22,000-plus win-place-show pool, and the exacta she headed with 43-1 Top Expectations second returned only $15.20 (the second choice was 23-1 behind the 1-9 shot).

Then, the most marked of mutuel contrasts followed 18 minutes later, as Explosive Matter filly Highland Dynamite made the most of a pocket trip behind pacesetter Bills Lady, going up the Pocono Pike to catch that foe in 1:53.1 while returning $250.80 to win and combining with Bills Lady, the 5-2 second choice, for a $4,878.80 exacta. Simon Allard guided the Pierre Paradis-trained shocker, who reduced her mark 5-2/5 seconds while gaining into a :55.2 back half for the Highland Thoroughbred Farm.

Southwind Angelica came out before the three-quarter mark to challenge pacesetting favorite Basquiat and wore her down late in their division, posting a neck victory while taking a new mark of 1:54.2. Another daughter of Muscle Hill, the winner stepped her own back fractions in :55.4 and :27.4 in taking the decision for driver Andy McCarthy, trainer Jonas Czernyson, and owner Thomas Dillon.

The final All-Stars contest was taken by Donato Hanover filly Live Laugh Love, who gained solidly from third mid-race to take the lead in early stretch and win by herself in 1:54.3. The Nifty Norman trainee, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winner and then second to Manchego in her two previous starts, ran her record to four wins in five starts in 2018, with earnings of $117,227 lifetime for Melvin Hartman, David McDuffee, and Diamond Creek Racing.

Napolitano Notches 9,000th Career Win

In other important news, George Napolitano Jr., the all-time leading horseman in Pocono Downs history, goes so fast that a mere pencil cannot stay with him: In Monday’s 12th race, his victory with Myidealson N was the 9,000th of his top-notch driving career.

Napolitano becomes the 21st North American-based driver to get to 9,000 wins, and ranks 12th among active drivers. The leading driver in North America in 2010 with 753 visits to Victory Lane, Napolitano has won a mind-boggling 29 titles at Pocono – 11 dash-winning titles (including the last six, and he leads the colony right now), 9 Universal Driver Rating championships (including the last five), and five training win titles. He has also won nine titles at Harrah’s Philadelphia – six for sulky victories and three for Universal Driver Rating.

Napolitano will have his entire family to the track on Saturday night, where he will join with them to be honoured in the Hanover Shoe Farms Winner's Circle for this milestone triumph.


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