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Svanstedt Sings ‘Plunge’s Praises

Published: July 26, 2018 1:38 pm ET

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When she is training or warming up, Plunge Blue Chip can be a handful for driver Ake Svanstedt. Once a race begins, she is a handful for her rivals.

A dozen days ago, Plunge Blue Chip became the fastest three-year-old trotter in history when she won her division of the Delvin Miller Memorial for three-year-old female trotters by a nose over Manchego in 1:49.4 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. She will return to action this Saturday (July 28) in the second of two eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks at the ‘Big M.’

Plunge Blue Chip, who is also trained by Svanstedt, has won 12 of 15 career races and earned $562,809. She will start her Oaks elimination from Post 8 in an eight-horse field of three-year-old trotting fillies.

“She has everything,” said Svanstedt, who owns Plunge Blue Chip with breeder Blue Chip Bloodstock, Tomas Andersson, and Rick Zeron Stables. “She is a strong horse and nice gaited; everything is good with her. She has a good head. She can be pulling and grabby when you train and when you are warming up, but when you come behind the gate she is relaxed. She has focus for the race and she is never pulling. She knows. She is a real racehorse. She loves to race.”

In addition to the Oaks eliminations, the card includes two divisions of the Reynolds Memorial, which feature a number of three-year-old trotters eligible to the August 4 Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. The $500,000 Oaks final will also take place on August 4. The top-five finishers from each elimination will advance to the final. Elimination winners will draw for posts one through five. The remaining finalists will then be put in an open draw.

Manchego, who has won 15 of 17 career races and earned $961,170, leads the first Oaks elimination. She received the 2017 Dan Patch Award for best two-year-old female trotter in the U.S. after a perfect 12-for-12 campaign. She is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Takter has won the past four editions of the Oaks and a record seven Oaks trophies overall.

The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian will air live during a 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT) on August 4.

Plunge Blue Chip is a daughter of Muscle Mass out of Dunk The Donato. She was purchased for $42,000 at the 2016 Standardbred Horse Sale and her family includes multiple Dan Patch Award winner Mr Muscleman.

Last year she competed primarily on the New York Sire Stakes circuit, where her only loss of the season came in the series championship. She followed the defeat with three consecutive wins, including the finals of the Matron Stakes and Goldsmith Maid.

“I liked what I saw (when buying her) and the pedigree is good,” Svanstedt said. “She was a very good looking horse. Her conformation is perfect.

“She was very good last year. She had a long season, but she came out good from that long season. She rested for two months and then came back. She grew up a little, but all of them grow up a little.”

Plunge Blue Chip began this season with back-to-back wins before finishing second twice to Atlanta. She rebounded with her world-record win in the Delvin Miller Memorial. Atlanta, trained and co-owned by Rick Zeron, is undefeated in five races this year and will bypass the Oaks in favour of taking on the boys in the Hambletonian.

Plunge Blue Chip, pictured at the wire during her 1:49.4 world-record mile at the Meadowlands Racetrack on July 14, 2018

“She raced [well] earlier this year, but I had not been satisfied with her,” Svanstedt said about Plunge Blue Chip. “Her gait had not been good. We always think it is a joint or something when they are not so good, but then we found it was a muscle on the right side that was the problem. We found that out and after that she’s been much better.”

As for Plunge Blue Chip’s world record performance, Svanstedt said, “I thought she could race (1:) 50 at the Meadowlands, but then she went (1:) 49.4. It was a surprise that she could go so fast. But the issue with the muscle is gone now and she feels good always when we train.

“It was a tough stretch (drive) but I had a feeling I was going to beat Manchego,” he continued about the race, adding with a laugh, “Then when I looked at the replay, it was tougher than it was in the race. Manchego was fighting until the wire. She is a tough horse.”

Earlier on the July 14 card at the Meadowlands, Svanstedt’s Hambletonian-bound male trotter Six Pack temporarily set the world record for a three-year-old when he won his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial in 1:50. Svanstedt-trained horses now hold the records for history’s fastest mile by any trotter (Sebastian K, 1:49 in 2014) and fastest miles for three-year-old female and male trotters (Plunge Blue Chip and Six Pack).

“I am happy to have such good horses,” Svanstedt said.

Plunge Blue Chip’s Oaks elimination includes Phaetosive, who also won a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial. Phaetosive will start from Post 5 with trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. The filly has won six of 10 career races and earned $352,358 for owner Purple Haze Stables.

“I think it could be tough to beat Phaetosive from the outside,” Svanstedt said. “I hope ‘Plunge’ is good enough to be first or second. It is important to win it for the final draw. (Phaetosive) is a very good horse. She is as good a horse as Manchego or Plunge. She looks good. She has won easy every time.”

Racing will begin at 7:15 p.m. (EDT).

The fields for the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations appear below.

Elimination 1 (Race 5)
(PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line)
1-What A Knockout-David Miller-Marcus Melander-15/1
2-Bills Lady-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-8/1
3-Lily Stride-Tim Tetrick-Mark Harder-10/1
4-Hey Blondie-Andy McCarthy-Chuck Sylvester-4/1
5-Fly Fly Selena-Brett Miller-Dustin Jones-10/1
6-Courtney Hanover-Scott Zeron-Rick Zeron-8/1
7-Manchego-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-9/5
8-Piranha Fury-Brian Sears-R. Nifty Norman-12/1
9-Seviyorum-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/1

Elimination 2 (Race 7)
(PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line)
1-Blonde Magic-Thomas Durand-Thomas Durand-10/1
2-Lima Novelty-Scott Zeron-Linda Toscano-6/1
3-Winbak Noelle-Andy McCarthy-Lucas Wallin-20/1
4-Perfect Summer K-Louis Roy-Andrew Harris-10/1
5-Phaetosive-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer-5/2
6-Live Laugh Love-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman-5/1
7-Nixie Volo-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-8/1
8-Plunge Blue Chip-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-2/1


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