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Can Manchego Make It Nine Straight?

Published: September 28, 2017 5:20 pm ET

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Yannick Gingras is no stranger to driving successful filly trotters. In the past six years alone, the list of such horses includes Maven, Mission Brief, Lifetime Pursuit, All The Time and Ariana G.

And now there is Manchego.

Manchego is a perfect 8-for-8 this year for Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter. Her next start is Friday in the fifth of five $66,000 Bluegrass Stakes divisions for two-year-old female trotters at Lexington’s Red Mile and she is 3-5 on the morning line.

Her wins this season include the Jim Doherty Memorial, Peaceful Way, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. She has earned $538,398 for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. She was purchased under the name Whispering Hills for $120,000 at last fall’s Lexington Selected Sale.

“She’s a very special filly,” Gingras said. “She’s not the biggest thing, but she’s got a long, long gait to her. She doesn’t trot like a little filly. She’s very efficient in her gait.”

Manchego’s best win time is 1:52.4, which is tied for seventh fastest by a two-year-old filly trotter in history. Among the horses ahead of her: Mission Brief (whose 1:50.3 mark is one full second faster than the next best time by a two-year-old), Ariana G (1:51.4) and Lifetime Pursuit (1:52.3).

“All of them had one thing in common -- speed,” Gingras said about the aforementioned filly trotters he has driven. “They all have really high speed and all of them could carry it a long way.

“After that, they’re different. Mission Brief had the most pure speed of the six of them, but she was hard on herself. The rest of them were all pretty handy, you could do whatever you wanted with them. They had more speed than anyone else they competed against, but you could race them any way you wanted, which made it easier on them and made them the fillies that they are.”

Gingras worked with Manchego in May and was impressed with the filly from the beginning.

“I trained her in May and I really liked her then,” Gingras said, adding with a laugh, “Jimmy qualified her the first time, and I was hoping he didn’t decide to drive her himself. But I got her the following (qualifier).

“Right from the beginning she showed that she had this kind of talent. Obviously, they have to keep improving, and some of them do and some of them don’t. But she’s got the pedigree and the attitude. You could tell from the beginning that she had that desire, that extra little push that great horses have.”

Manchego is a daughter of stallion Muscle Hill, the 2009 Horse of the Year, out of the stakes-winning mare Secret Magic. Her family includes multiple-stakes-winner and world champion Possess The Magic.

Gingras has worked to teach Manchego not to get too revved up in races, and with the exception of her elimination of the Peaceful Way, the filly has been a good student. In her Peaceful Way elim, Manchego trotted away from the field to lead by as many as 10 lengths, but a bridle change had her back to herself for the final.

“She was perfect,” Gingras said. “She had never been like (she was in the elimination) before. Credit goes to Jimmy, he does a great job.

“She’s getting better and better, no doubt.”

In the first division of the Bluegrass, Ron Burke-trained Front Circle, a two-time winner on the Pennsylvania circuit, is the 2-1 morning-line favourite. Mooshka Stride, from the stable of trainer Mark Harder, is the 2-1 choice in the second division. She has a win and a second from three starts in the Kindergarten Series.

The favourite in the third division, at 2-1, is Harder’s Lily Stride, who has won four of seven races and never finished off the board. She finished second by a neck to Top Expectations in the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. Top Expectations, trained by Erv Miller, is 3-1 in the same division.

Julie Miller-trained Seviyorum, a two-time Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winner, is the 8-5 favourite in the fourth division.

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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