Day At The Track

Plainridge Park concludes the 2020 meet

03:22 AM 01 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Manchego, harness racing
Manchego scorched The Ridge in 1:49.3
Tom Melanson photo

Plainville, MA --- The 2020 Plainridge Park meet concluded on Friday (Nov. 27) and despite starting over two months late due to the global pandemic, the harness racing track enjoyed a successful and productive year.

With stringent safety protocols in place and the strict adherence to them by all racing personnel from day one of live racing, the meet was run in its entirety without any Covid-related incidents. That is a reflection of the hard work put in by the track's staff and all of the horsemen and horsewomen to ensure the safety of everyone and protect their livelihoods as all worked through difficult times.

"We are happy with the meet we had given the circumstances we had to deal with. But the only way we were able to operate successfully centered around my incredible staff. Each and every one of them went above and beyond their responsibilities, doing whatever it took to get thru the toughest season we have ever faced in regards to operations,"said Steve O'Toole, Director of Racing at Plainridge Park.

"We tried to accommodate the horsemen as best we could, especially the regulars and those local. The $7 million in purses distributed in the shortened season should give them stability until we start next year."

On the track, Shawn Gray was the top dash driver with 111 wins, $1,081,476 in earnings and a UDR of .436 followed by Drew Monti in second with 94 wins, $899,901 in earnings and a UDR of .302 and Bruce Ranger a very close third with 93 wins, $907,748 in earnings and a UDR of .300.

Shawn Gray (Tim Bojarski Photo)

Melissa Beckwith was the winningest trainer with 39 victories in only 89 starts which gave her a win percentage of 44% and a UTR of .541. She also bankrolled $249,700 in earnings. Jimmy Nickerson was right behind her in second with 32 wins, $323,515 in earnings and a UTR of .401.

Best Honey Hanover was the most productive horse, visiting the winner's circle eight times during the meet and earning $48,300 while splitting time between barns through claims.

There were eight track records broken and one tied during the year. Two of those occurred on Spirit of Massachusetts Trot day in July when Manchego scorched The Ridge in 1:49.3 to set the all-time trotting mark and Shartin N paced in 1:48.1 to break the all-time pacing mark she set just one year ago.

Manchego scorched The Ridge in 1:49.3

Shartin N paced in 1:48.1 to break the all-time pacing mark

The Massachusetts Sire Stakes held at Plainridge in October also showed how far the state-bred Standardbreds have come as seven stake records were broken and another tied during the four week run of that series.

Plainridge Park will kick off their 2021 on April 12 and feature 110 days of love racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

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