East Rutherford, NJ – Racing fans got a real treat Friday night (Nov. 8), getting to see the best horse in training right now – the great mare Manchego – tune up for the Nov. 23 TVG Final by easily defeating four overmatched foes in the featured Preferred Handicap for trotters at the Meadowlands.
The 4-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic encountered nothing in the way of trouble, grabbing the lead just before the three-eighths-mile marker, hitting the half in :56.1 and three-quarters in 1:24.3, before extending her edge through the stretch on the way to a 3¾-length win in 1:52.4. The fastest female trotter (1:49) of all-time paid $2.10 to win with Dexter Dunn in the sulky. Rich And Miserable was second with Pat Matters third.
“She was pretty much under wraps,” said winning trainer Nancy Johansson. “Dexter told me he wrapped her up at three-quarters. She’s just amazing. She’s out there playing. She’s so happy now. She just goes out there and does her thing.”
The question now: Which TVG event will Manchego go in? The $175,000 Mare Trot, or take on the boys in the $350,000 Open Trot. Johansson made it clear which one she’d prefer.
“I would like for the Meadowlands to let us race the boys in the Open Trot,” said Johansson. “I think she deserves a shot at the boys. Arguably, she’s the best trotting horse in training. She has earned the invitation.”
While the entry box has to be emptied before it’s a certainty, it is likely Johansson will get what she desires.
“There’s a pretty good shot she’ll get an invite,” said Meadowlands’ Racing Secretary Scott Warren. “There has to be room to invite her. There are no eliminations and only 10 can go.”
Whether the invitation is extended or not, Manchego will be at the Big M on the 23rd. “If the invitation is offered, of course we will take it,” said Johansson. “Regardless, she will race (in either the Open or Mare Trot).”
Manchego has been on a gigantic roll since coming back from an injury. “She injured herself prior to the (Aug. 24) Maple Leaf Trot,” said Johansson. “She lost half of her right hind hoof in the trailer on the way to Canada. It took some time for that to heal. But once that was taken care of, she hasn’t lost.”
Among the victories during her current six-race win streak include the Sept. 27 Dayton Derby (where she won in 1:50.1) at Dayton Raceway, Oct. 6 Allerage (1:49) at Lexington’s Red Mile and the Oct. 26 Breeders Crown (1:51) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
She’s now won 27 of her 42 career starts and earned $2,037,980 for owners Black Horse Racing.
A LITTLE MORE: Dunn had the hot hand among the drivers, guiding four winners on the card. Tyler Buter had three, including a sweep of the late double, which paid $99. Buter’s other score came with Aragorn Hoss Fi in the third race, paying $109.80 to win … All-source handle on the 13-race program totaled $1,873,140. … Racing resumes Saturday (Nov. 9) at 7:15 p.m.