Day At The Track

An eye-popping 1:47.4 in return to racing

05:03 PM 06 Jun 2020 NZST
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Kissin In The Sand, harness racing
Kissin In The Sand and driver Yannick Gingras take Friday night’s co-featured Preferred for pacing fillies and mares at the Meadowlands.
Lisa Photo

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The return of harness racing at the Meadowlands from the coronavirus shutdown featured phenomenal performances by a pair of Nancy Takter trainees.

Manchego got the party started in the first race back after the Big M's 12-week layoff by taking the Preferred for trotters in a season's-best 1:50.3 with Dexter Dunn driving, despite racing over a track rated 'sloppy'. The 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic was unhurried in the early going, sitting fifth past the half before vacating the rail and coming after leader Lindy The Great while first-over.

Manchego was almost even with that foe at three-quarters before quickly surging to the top at the head of the stretch. She then glided through the lane during a final quarter that was clocked in :26.1 on the way to a 2¼-length score over Southwind Chrome, who went a pocket trip. Crystal Fashion rallied for third. Lindy The Great weakened to finish sixth.

"I was expecting Manchego to race well," said Takter. "But was I expecting her to go [1:]50 under wraps in the slop? Maybe not just yet."

Manchego has now won seven of her last eight outings, the only blemish coming at the hands of Six Pack, who was nothing short of super in defeating Manchego in the TVG Open Trot last November at the Big M.

"She's the little engine that could," said Takter. "I was glad she raced from off the pace. It makes her more versatile. She'll be even better as a result."

As the 1-5 favorite, Manchego paid $2.40 to win.

Manchego and driver Dexter Dunn score in the co-featured Preferred for trotters

But it wasn't enough for Takter to have 2020's fastest trotter. At night's end, she had the fastest pacer as well.

Her Kissin In The Sand - with Yannick Gingras driving - won the co-featured Preferred for pacing fillies and mares in an eye-popping 1:47.4, which was not only the fastest female mile of the season, but the fastest for any horse regardless of sex.

"She was just great," said Takter of the 5-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Kiss Me Kate who equaled her lifetime best. "She had a little bit of a slow start last year, but she matured so much over the winter. She is so much more relaxed."

No doubt about it.

Kissin In The Sand was taking on a giant in Caviart Ally. The same Caviart Ally who defeated Horse of the Year Shartin N in three of her final four 2019 starts. But Kissin In The Sand proved up to the challenge, sweeping up to take command after the quarter before cutting out fractions of :54.3 and 1:21.3 before kicking home in :26.1 to win for the 20th time in 47 career starts. She finished three-quarters-of-a-length in front of Major Occasion A. Caviart Ally, the 6-5 favorite, never threatened and finished third. Kissin In The Sand paid $5.20 as the 8-5 second choice in the wagering. By the time she raced, the track was rated 'fast'.

"Kissin In The Sand is at the peak of her career," said Takter, who intimated her mare would do just fine facing Caviart Ally and Shartin N throughout 2020. "I think she's a good, tough mare who can take tough miles."

A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy and Gingras both recorded driving triples on the card while Takter schooled three winner's circle visitors. ... Wagering was vigorous in the 50-cent Late Pick-4 as a total of $79,448 was pushed through the windows. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,882,819. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations


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