Day At The Track

Jimmy Takter feels Manchego has 'another gear'

08:20 AM 27 Jun 2018 NZST
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Manchego, harness racing
Manchego (#5) barely holds off Crystal Fashion to win by a nose
Curtis Salonick photo

Jimmy Takter is ready to take off Manchego's training wheels. In this case, the wheels are shoes.

Manchego, undefeated in 15 career races, will attempt to become the first female winner of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono when she faces eight male rivals in the $500,000 event for 3-year-old trotters. Last week, she captured her elimination by a nose in 1:52.4, equaling her lifetime best time and besting a field that included 2017 male divisional champs from the U.S. and Canada plus the Breeders Crown winner.

She will start the Beal final from post No. 6 with regular driver Yannick Gingras and is the 5-2 morning-line favorite.

"This is a good test for her, it's a very good race," Takter said. "(Last week) she had to work hard to get the lead; she fought hard. It will be tougher this week. There is going to be a lot of action in that race."

Takter has won three of the Beal's seven previous editions and last year sent out the first female finalist in the event, Ariana G, who won her elimination before finishing third from post eight in the final. Takter plans to make a shoeing adjustment on Manchego for Saturday's final.

"She's been racing with her training shoes," Takter said. "She's been going with a (heavier) shoe up front and she doesn't need any weight. We can lighten her up quite a bit. This is something I always do. I don't do it right away; I've been waiting to get to this point in the season. I've got another gear there."

The Beal is one of four marquee events that make up Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono. The card also features the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, where Lather Up is the 2-1 morning-line favorite; $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, with McWicked the 5-2 favorite; and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, where Sidewalk Dancer is the 5-2 choice.

Manchego was a $120,000 yearling buy, under the name Whispering Hills, at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. She is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic and her family includes millionaire Possess The Magic. Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 last year and became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. She also was the first unbeaten 2-year-old female trotter to win a Breeders Crown.

This year, Manchego won divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania All-Stars before her nose victory over Crystal Fashion in her Beal elimination, which marked only the second time in her 15 starts that a horse was within 1-1/2 lengths of her at the finish line. In the elim, she defeated a field that had last year's male Dan Patch Award winner Fourth Dimension, O'Brien Award winner Alarm Detector, and Breeders Crown champ Fiftydallarbill.

"She's more calm this year; more professional in all aspects," Takter said. "She's very handy. Whatever you want to do, you can do. That's a plus for her."

Manchego, who is owned by Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman, has earned $929,688 in her career.

Crystal Fashion is the 3-1 second choice in the Beal final, followed by elimination winners Mission Accepted at 4-1 and Six Pack at 5-1. Six Pack will start from the outside position, post nine. Seven of the nine finalists are eligible to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes: Manchego, Six Pack, Crystal Fashion, Lawmaker, Patent Leather, Fashionwoodchopper, and Evaluate.

The only Beal champion to win the Hambletonian was Pinkman in 2015. Beal winners Devious Man and Southwind Frank finished second in the Hambletonian the past two years.

Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. The Beal is race No. 12 on the card and caps the stakes events. The Lynch is race nine, followed by the Hempt and Franklin.

The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial honors the former president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who was a driving force to bring casino gaming to the state's racetracks. Following is the field for this year's race.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line

1-Lawmaker-Anthony MacDonald-Andrew Harris-15/1
2-Patent Leather-Brian Sears-Jim Campbell-10/1
3-Mission Accepted-Ryan Stahl-Jeff Conger-4/1
4-Crystal Fashion-Tim Tetrick-Jim Campbell-3/1
5-Fashionwoodchopper-David Miller-Jim Campbell-12/1
6-Manchego-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/2
7-Mississippi Storm-Brett Miller-Tom Fanning-20/1
8-Evaluate-Corey Callahan-Marcus Melander-6/1
9-Six Pack-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-5/1

Complete entries for the card are available at this link.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 

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