Day At The Track

Grand Circuit season concludes Wednesday

03:14 AM 25 Nov 2020 NZDT
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Harness Racing This Week: Progress Pace final, Dover Downs, Dover, Del.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Dover Downs this Wednesday (Nov. 25) for the $325,000 Progress Pace final for 3-year-old open pacers.

This will be the final stake for the 2020 Grand Circuit season.

Complete entries for the race are available at this link.

Last time: Bettor's Wish closed out his racing career in style with a powerful performance in Saturday's (Nov. 21) $340,000 TVG Series Open Pace championship, defeating Backstreet Shadow by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:48.1 at The Meadowlands. This Is The Plan finished third.

Bettor's Wish closed out his racing career in style with a powerful performance in Saturday's $340,000 TVG Series Open Pace championship. Lisa photo.

Sent off as the 1-2 favorite, Bettor's Wish paid $3.00 to win.

"I barely asked him tonight, to be honest," winning driver Dexter Dunn said. "It was all him. It's been him his whole career. He's a true racehorse.

"It was a special feeling crossing the line with him tonight. He's been an amazing horse to me."

Bettor's Wish, a 4-year-old stallion by Bettor's Delight out of Lifetime Star, won 24 of 44 career starts and $2.60 million. He failed to finish among the top three only three times in his career. He received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male pacer in 2019 and was second to Shartin N in voting for both Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year.

Other victories this year for Bettor's Wish included the Sam McKee Memorial, Dayton Pacing Derby, and Allerage Farms Open Pace.

Bettor's Wish is owned by trainer Chris Ryder, Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm, and Bettors Wish Partners. He was bred by Brittany Farms.

Manchego made her final career start a winning one, capturing Saturday's $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."

Kissin In The Sand took the lead at the half, fended off a challenge from Shartin N on the final turn, and pulled away from the field in the stretch to win Saturday's $150,000 TVG Series Mare Pace championship in a stakes-record 1:48 at The Meadowlands. Three-year-old filly Peaky Sneaky was second and Shartin N was third.

It was the final start of Kissin In The Sand's career. The 5-year-old mare finished the season with a seven-race win streak and pushed her lifetime victory total to 27 in 58 starts. She earned $1.74 million for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables and trainer Nancy Takter.

"She was outstanding tonight," winning driver Dexter Dunn said. "She's had an amazing career, she's an amazing mare, and I was lucky enough to get on for the last four or five starts to enjoy the last run home."

Sent off the 4-5 favorite, Kissin In The Sand paid $3.80 to win.

Kissin In The Sand, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate, was bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine Inc., and Concord Stud Farm. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3. Among her wins to close out this season were her first Breeders Crown as well as the Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace.

Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2020 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend:

Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 1,271; 2. Dexter Dunn - 1,162; 3. David Miller - 815; 4. Tim Tetrick - 745.5; 5. Andrew McCarthy - 606.

Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,303; 2. Nancy Takter - 1,295.5; 3. Ake Svanstedt - 734; 4. Tony Alagna - 682; 5. Marcus Melander - 492.

Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 273.9; 2. Caviart Farms - 240.5; 3. Determination - 230; 4. Brad Grant - 217.3; 5. Weaver Bruscemi - 209.8.

Looking ahead: The 2020 Grand Circuit season will conclude after this week; the 2021 Grand Circuit schedule will be released early next year.

by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit

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