Manchego stays perfect at Lexington

International Stallion Stakes divisions for freshman trotting fillies also were won by Basquiat, Hey Blondie, Looking For Zelda and Nixie Volo.

by Dean A. Hoffman

“She’s a perfect 10!” shouted track announcer Gabe Prewitt as Manchego eased to the wire alone in her split of the Muscle Hill International Stallion Stakes on Friday at The Red Mile.

The daughter of Muscle Hill now has 10 wins in as many starts for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Jimmy Takter handles the training tasks with the Brittany Farms-bred daughter of Muscle Hill from the Cantab Hall mare Secret Magic.

Five splits of the Muscle Hill gave 39 freshman trotting fillies a chance to strut their stuff in the bright Kentucky sunshine. Four divisions carried a $58,000 purse with one at $57,000.

Yannick Gingras drove Manchego with supreme confidence from her outside post eight. As the field sprinted away from the gate, Gingras kept sweeping his head to the left to see what was happening inside of him. Ake Svanstedt left fastest with S M S Princess and she was pursued by Lindy On Tap and Samis Rolin Stone. Gingras dropped Manchego in a wide gap to claim fourth.

Past the opening panel in :28.2, the order remained unchanged until Gingras decided to send his filly in pursuit of the pacesetter. He patiently let her trot up to and past the leader nearing the 5/8-mile.

At that point, the race was effectively over except for the fact that Manchego drifted out briefly entering the stretch. Gingras simply kept her pointed toward the finish line and Manchego did the rest. The unbeaten bay crossed the wire nine lengths ahead of her pursuers as relaxed as if she were in the post parade.

The mile in 1:52.4 equaled her winning time in the Peaceful Way on Sept. 18 at Mohawk.

Manchego was a $120,000 yearling last fall at the Lexington Selected Sale.

D’Bomb at 80-1 shocked the bettors with a second-place finish while S M S Princess held for third.

Gingras used the same tactics and matched Manchgo’s 1:52.4 time in winning with Basquiat in winning her fourth straight race in the next split.

The Cantab Hall filly Basquiat is now six-for-eight for breeder/owner Order By Stable of Sweden. The race lowered the mark she took in her last start at Hoosier Park by a second.

Ake Svanstedt shot Foxy Fantasy away from her outside post eight and got the nod at the quarter in :28.2 and half-mile marker in “:56.2. Andy Miller was sitting second with Seviyorum and he attacked the pacesetter at the 5/8-pole with Gingras and Basquiat hot on her heels.

Once Seviyorum put away Foxy Fantasy, Miller ducked her to the inside, then looked over his right shoulder and saw that Basquiat had come calling. The duel between the two was over before it started and Gingras let his filly trot without urging in deep stretch.

Basquiat won by 1-3/4 lengths over Seviyorum with Southwind Angelica third.

In the opening split of the Muscle Hill, Yannick Gingras had a choice of driving four fillies and he opted to steer Venus Duharas for trainer Jimmy Takter. Gingras demonstrated his confidence in the Andover Hall lass by sending her straight to the front, then yielding to Tim Tetrick and Lily Stride as they started down the backstretch. David Miller sat chilly in third with Piranha Fury.

Miller moved Pirana Fury out past the half and took aim at the leader with Hey Blondie and driver Andrew McCarthy following their cover. Hey Blondie had dodged the breaking Sherry’s Lady after the start to slip into fifth place early in the mile.

Lily Stride led past the three-quarters in 1:25.2 and Tetrick looked to his right and saw Piranha Fury. David Miller’s filly had the momentum and wrested the lead from the pacesetter only to find the filly skipping offstride in deep stretch. It made little difference because Hey Blondie was trotting fastest of all and shot past the breaker to hit the wire in 1:53.1, lowering her mark by more than three seconds.

It was the fourth win in nine starts for the Cantab Hall filly, the first foal from a sister to the supersire Muscle Hill. She was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and sold for $125,000 last fall at Harrisburg under the name of Whovian Hanover. She is trained by Chuck Sylvester for a partnership of Mary K. Arnold,Paul Bordogna, David McDuffee, and Steve Jones.

Favored Looking For Zelda was in command all the way in her Muscle Hill split as Matt Kakaley picked up the lines for the first time from trainer Norm Parker. He sent her to the front from post two and got away with forgiving fractions of :28.4 and :57.2. The field tightened as Corey Callahan applied pressure with 12-1 Deschanel but Kakaley had lots more filly left as he issued a “Do Not Pass” edict to Deschanel.

Then David Miller came forth to apply pressure with Live Love Laugh and she tested Looking for Zelda, but Kakaley kept his filly alive to the wire to win by a neck over Live Love Laugh.

A filly by Break The Bank K, Looking For Zelda won her seventh of nine starts and dropped her record more than two seconds to 1:54 with the confident drive from Kakaley. Swing It Cathy got up for third for Yannick Gingras.

The winner was bred and is owned by Robert J. Key, one of the sport’s major owners for many decades.

She is trained by Norm Parker and she is now seven for nine in 2017 and pushed her earnings past $250,000.

The final Muscle Hill split was marked by a long and bitter duel between Nixie Volo and Top Expectations with the former getting the nod for Corey Callahan. She is owned by Kentuckiana Racing Stable, VIP Internet Stable, Eddie Grand, and 83 Racing. It was her third win in eight starts this season.

The two fillies dueled with favored Top Expectations setting the pace and Nixie Volo outside applying pressure. She wore down the leader to win by a half-length in 1:53.4.