Day At The Track

Plunge Blue Chip to duel with defending champ

07:24 AM 27 Aug 2020 NZST
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Plunge Blue Chip, Harness Racing
Plunge Blue Chip and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt

Manchego and Atlanta are considered the sport's top trotting mares, each with a spot in harness racing's weekly top 10 rankings, but Plunge Blue Chip hopes to dive into the fray with a win in Saturday's C$220,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for older female trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario.

Plunge Blue Chip is a 5-year-old, the same age as Manchego and Atlanta. They are three of the six female trotters in history to win a race faster than 1:50, with Plunge Blue Chip and Manchego the only two to do it more than once.

Manchego was not entered in the Armbro Flight, but Atlanta will be there along with Plunge Blue Chip and six other mares. Atlanta won last year's Armbro Flight in 1:50.2, the fastest time ever on Canadian soil.

Atlanta, trained by Ron Burke and driven by Yannick Gingras, is the 6-5 morning-line favorite from post four Saturday. Plunge Blue Chip, with Bob McClure at the lines for trainer Ake Svanstedt, is the 2-1 second choice from post three.

The Armbro Flight is part of a Mohawk card that also includes the C$1 million North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers, C$400,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old filly pacers, and C$290,000 Roses Are Red for pacing mares.

Plunge Blue Chip was winless in her first three races this season but has since posted two wins and a second in three starts. She enters the Armbro Flight off a 1:51.3 win in the Joie De Vie Stakes at Tioga Downs, where she finished 1-1/4 lengths ahead of stablemate Felicityshagwell S and two lengths ahead of Manchego.

Plunge Blue Chip winning the Joie De Vie Stakes at Tioga Downs

"Her gait is better," Svanstedt said. "It was a little rough the first races but now she is much better and stronger. Everything is going well with her. She is as good as she can be."

Plunge Blue Chip, a daughter of Muscle Mass out of Dunk The Donato, has won 21 of 44 career races and $1.37 million. She is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., breeder Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., and Tomas Andersson.

As a 3-year-old, Plunge Blue Chip won twice in 1:49.4. The mark tied for the season's fastest by a female trotter.

"She can do everything," Svanstedt said. "She can leave fast, she never breaks, and she is strong. She is always fighting to the wire.

"This is a nice group of mares (this year). I think she can be in the top."

Felicityshagwell S, a 5-year-old in her first season of racing in North America, is 12-1 on the Armbro Flight morning line. Sylvain Filion will drive the mare for Svanstedt. Owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc., the daughter of Maharajah-Diaz Boko was a Group 2 race winner at age 2 in Sweden. She has a second and third in four starts this year.

"She was good the last race, better than before," Svanstedt said. "I expect a good race from her too. She is getting better. She gets stronger for every race. Her last race was the best for her."

Armbro Flight favorite Atlanta has won two of five races this year and finished second twice. For her career, she has won 22 of 44 starts and $2.11 million. She was the 2018 Trotter of the Year, when her accomplishments included beating the boys in the Hambletonian. She was the Dan Patch and O'Brien award winner for best older female trotter in 2019.

For Saturday's complete Mohawk entries, click here. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT).

by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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