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Manchego Bests Atlanta In Casual Breeze

Published: August 24, 2018 9:36 pm ET

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The highly-anticipated Casual Breeze match up of the Hambletonian and Oaks winners ended in a 1:51.4 record performance as Manchego held off Atlanta on Friday night (August 24) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Driven by Yannick Gingras, Manchego set a new stakes record and equalled the track and Canadian record for three-year-old trotting fillies that was established by another Jimmy Takter trainee, Ariana G, in the 2017 Elegantimage Stakes.

Both Hambletonian champion Atlanta and Oaks winner Manchego were sent postward at odds of 4-5 in their first face off since the 2017 Breeders Crown, with the rest of the eight fillies in the field dismissed at odds greater than 9-1.

Smoke And Mirrors (Trevor Henry) left for the lead from post six with Atlanta (Scott Zeron) securing the early pocket position while Manchego drove on from post eight for Gingras. She cleared to command by the :27.3 first quarter mark and continued to lead the way to the half in :56.2.

At the midway mark, Atlanta tipped out to take second-place and ducked into the pocket behind Manchego as they passed three-quarters in 1:24.1, setting up a stretch duel between the rivals.

Atlanta launched her attack down the stretch but Manchego held her ground, winning by one and three-quarters lengths. Sorceress Seelster (Scott Wray) finished 11 lengths behind at odds of 68-1.

"A lot of people didn't have the hopes that me, Jimmy and our crew had on our filly. Everybody was talking about Atlanta, and rightfully so, she's a great filly too but I never lost confidence in mine and all along I thought that I had the best filly," said Gingras after the race. "Of course this is just one match-up. I've said before, they'll meet up again many times, but my filly was super strong tonight.

"I thought maybe I'd get away second behind them, that's how I saw the race unfold, but of course when I was able to grab the lead I was happy about that, let's put it that way. I think either way, at least tonight, I think even if she cut the mile I would have beat her anyway."

Confident in his filly, Gingras said he felt Manchego had sealed the deal at the top of the stretch and finished with ear plugs still in place.

"You never know, like I said, she's [Atlanta] a great filly too and I don't know what kind of a run she's going to give me, but when she dropped on my back, my filly felt so strong and I figured she'd have to go one hell of a quarter to beat me and I had some left too so we saved some for the next race."

Manchego returned $3.60 to win.

Takter trains the Muscle Hill-Secret Magic miss for owners Black Horse Racing of Lebanon, New Jersey, John Fielding of Toronto, Ont., and Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, Florida.

After going undefeated in 12 starts as a two-year-old, Manchego has won six of her nine sophomore stakes and was just nosed out on two occasions including last Friday's Zweig Memorial won by Hambo runner-up Mets Hall at Vernon Downs. The lion's share of the $136,000 purse lifted her career bankroll to $1.4 million.

With pacesetter Firebby A drifting off the rail down the stretch in the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Handicap Pace, Exhilarated ($10.90) shot through inside off a pocket trip to prevail by one length in 1:51.1. Jonathan Drury drove the seven-year-old Mach Three-Animated Art mare for trainer/owner Carmen Auciello.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

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