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Manchego Defends 'Spirit' Crown

Published: July 25, 2021 5:42 pm ET

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A year after delivering a world-record 1:49.3 performance in the 2020 edition of the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot, Black Horse Racing's Manchego ($2.20) made it two-for-two in the Bay State with a gritty 1:50 score in the Spirit's 2021 renewal, held Sunday (July 25) at Plainridge Park.

The six-year-old Muscle Hill mare was in attack mode from race's outset, striding clear of Lindy The Great (Andy Miller) midway on the first turn and controlling fractions of :26.4, :55.3 and 1:22.3 over fast going while in line to Dexter Dunn. Turning for home, Manchego was met by a stern challenge from Lindy The Great — but the triple millionaire rose to it, holding her ground to reach the winning post a half length in front. Crystal Fashion (Tim Tetrick) sustained a mild three-wide push off the corner to finish third, four lengths in arrears.

“It took a while to get to the front but I didn’t push her too hard. But once she got there she went about her business and raced real well,” said driver Dunn. “It’s a pleasure to come here to Plainridge Park and see all the fans at the track. And the track put on a great show.”

Nancy Takter trains Manchego, whose 38 career wins include five victories in just six starts this year.

Not to be overshadowed by a champion of Manchego's stature, Lyons Sentinel ($3.80) equalled the Plainridge Park track record with a 1:48.1 win in the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace.

Tim Tetrick rated the four-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous in third while Rocknificent (Scott Zeron) blazed through a :25.3 first quarter and JK First Lady (Dunn) controlled an equally taxing :53.2 half. Lyons Sentinel, able to draft behind wicked fractions, made her move into the far turn, angling off the pegs to engage JK First Lady past three-quarters in 1:20.1 and strike the front off the home turn. After putting JK First Lady away, Lyons Sentinel scooted clear by 2-1/4 lengths to equal Shartin N's all-age pacing track record. Rocknificent was able to escape the pocket and save second; Peaky Sneaky (Todd McCarthy) fanned off cover and lifted into third.

"My mare was super today. She was on her toes and just dragged me around the track there and just went on her own."

Jim King Jr. trains Lyons Sentinel, a 15-time winner with over $1.5 million in her coffers, for Threelyonsracing.

Between those two performances from two of harness racing's leading ladies, Artful Way ($4.80) delivered a pillar-to-post, 1:50 win in the revival of the $50,900 Bert Beckwith Memorial, which was restricted to pacers who have raced in Massachusetts at least six times this year. Bruce Ranger pointed the nine-year-old Artistic Fella gelding to the front from the outset, and they led Rock Diamonds N (Ron Cushing) through splits of :27.1, :55.4 and 1:22 before pulling away to win by 2-1/4 lengths. Sports Obsession (Drew Monti) finished third. Jackie Greene trains the 65-time winner for the Kellogg Racing Stables.

Plainridge Park hosted the renewal of the Bert Beckwith Pace that was contested for $50,900 and Artful Way was victorious on the strength of a season's best performance.

Artful Way (Bruce Ranger) left from post two and led from gate to wire. After getting to the half in :55.4, Andrew McCarthy was out and rolling with Cigars And Port and pushed the pace to the three quarters in 1:22 flat. But that bid unraveled around the last turn and Artful Way swelled up down the lane, opening up a 2-¼ length win in a personal season's best of 1:50.

It was the sixth win of the year for Artful Way ($4.80) and owner, the Kellogg Racing Stable. Jackie Greene trains the winner.

(with files from Plainridge Park)

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