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East Rutherford, NJ — Manchego made her final career start a winning one, capturing Saturday’s (Nov. 21) $320,000 TVG Open Trot championship by 1-1/4 lengths over Atlanta in 1:51.3 at The Meadowlands. Lindy The Great finished third.
Manchego, a 5-year-old mare, was retired in a ceremony in the winner’s circle following the race. She ended her career with 33 wins in 56 career starts and $2.72 million in purses.
Her victories included the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 4, and 5. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a mark of 1:49.3 in this year’s Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park.
Manchego is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years. She has been the sport’s fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020.
In 2017, Manchego won all 12 of her starts and became the first undefeated 2-year-old filly trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten 2-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. With her Breeders Crown triumph last month, she joined Peace Corps and Grades Singing as the only female trotters with at least three trophies.
Manchego, by Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, was trained by Jimmy Takter at ages 2 and 3, and Nancy Takter at 4 and 5. She is owned by Barry Guariglia’s Black Horse Racing and was bred by Brittany Farms.
“She’s just a super mare,” Nancy Takter said. “She’s been great since the first moment that she ever set foot on the track.
“When you get the call that you get to train a horse like Manchego, those calls probably aren’t going to come very many times in my life, so I appreciate every moment that I had with her. She’s just an unbelievable mare. She makes my job easy, she makes all of us look good around her, because she’s just such a professional.”
On Saturday, Manchego and driver Dexter Dunn watched from fourth as Crystal Fashion led to the quarter in :28 and half in :57. As the field neared the final turn, Dunn moved with Manchego and gained the cover of Atlanta, who had been racing in second. Crystal Fashion remained on top at three-quarters, reached in 1:24.1, but in the stretch it was all Manchego, who came home in :27 for the victory.
“It’s fitting that the first time she ever went behind the gate was at The Meadowlands and she gets to finish her career here with a win,” Takter said. “She started her career with a win at The Meadowlands and she’s going to end it the same way.”
Said Guariglia, “It feels wonderful. She almost made that look too easy. She’s super sharp right now. I was a little nervous when they got to the half in :57; she probably hasn’t seen that since she trained back in March. Win or lose, I was ready for the emotions tonight. But, obviously, it’s great to win.”
Manchego, the slight even-money favorite over Atlanta, paid $4.00 to win.