It almost seems cliché to note that Manchego has etched her name in harness racing history, but she did it again on Hambletonian Day with a gutsy performance to capture the $269,750 John Cashman Memorial TVG Open Trot.
Gangster Hanover (Scott Zeron) and Reign Of Honor (Yannick Gingras) were quickest of the gate in the field of 11 older trotters, with Beads (David Miller) making his presence felt in short order. Beads cleared Gangster Hanover after a :26.4 opening quarter, and then yielded to 3/5 choice Manchego and Dexter Dunn asking her to make the front.
Manchego landed on the lead at about the 7/16ths mark, hitting the half-mile marker in a solid :54.3. Stablemate Ready For Moni (Tim Tetrick) applied first over pressure through the third quarter, reached in 1:23 and that front pair trotted in tandem turning for home. Manchego repelled that rival while Lindy The Great (Andy Miller) tipped off the cover to launch a stretch bid. Room opened up the rail for Beads to slip through and he responded to seemingly best Manchego in the final strides but the magnificent mare battled back and got her whisker on the wire first to win in 1:50.3. Lindy The Great was a length back in third.
"That was a great performance today," said owner Barry Guariglia of Black Horse Racing. "I thought it was maybe a dead heat but a win by a whisker? I'll take it."
Driver Dunn actually thought Beads was the winner and headed back to the paddock. "I thought David nailed me right on the line so I was glad when her number popped up.
"I was a little worried at the three quarters as she didn't give me the kick she normally does but her greatness shone through fighting down the stretch like she did."
Only one other trotting mare has won the Cashman or the Nat Ray, and that was the great Moni Maker. Manchego (Muscle Hill - Secret Magic), trained by Nancy Takter, now sports 39 wins in 63 career appearances and is 6-0-1 in seven seasonal starts. The win lifts her bankroll to $3,285,161.
The John Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-packed card of harness racing on Hambletonian Day. Be sure to check out the 2021 Hambletonian Day News Centre for recaps and replays of all the action.