PLAINRIDGE — Plainridge Park presented its two marquee stakes of the year on Sunday and the $250,000 Spirit Of Massachusetts Trot and the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace both delivered as advertised.
The Spirit trot saw the return of Manchego, who set a world record time of 1:49.3 at Plainridge Park last year in the same event. The Nancy Takter-trained champion trotting mare won the stake again on Sunday, but not without a serious challenge from Lindy The Great.
Driver Dexter Dunn floated Manchego off the gate and battled Lindy The Great for the lead, gaining control in a solid :26.4 quarter. The six horse field continued in single file around the clubhouse turn and up the backstretch where Forbidden Trade pulled from third and tried to mount a challenge. But Manchego was trotting hard and opened up a two length lead at the top of the stretch. It was there that Miller tipped Lindy The Great and he came full of trot and conviction. Lindy The Great was in full flight and gaining with every stride while Dunn kept Manchego on task. The gap was closing in deep stretch but as they hit the line, Manchego finished what she started and won by ½ length ahead of Lindy The Great in 1:50.
“It took a while to get to the front but I didn’t push her too hard. But once she got there she went about her business and raced real well,” Dunn said. “It’s a pleasure to come here to Plainridge Park and see all the fans at the track. And the track put on a great show.”
Manchego now has five wins in her six starts this year and has bankrolled $292,971 for owner Black Horse Racing.
Lyons Sentinel matches Shartin N’s all-time Plainridge track record with 1:48.1 victory
With the now retired champion Shartin N having won the first two editions of the $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace, the team of trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick returned with a new star and remained undefeated in that stake after Lyons Sentinel brushed to an impressive 1:48.1 victory, tying Shartin N’s all-time track pacing record set in the Barton last year.
Scott Zeron fired Rocknificent off the truck and flew to the quarter in :25.3. Almost immediately at that station, JK First Lady (Dexter Dunn) pulled from second, took the lead and continued to the half in very fast :53.2 with Lyons Sentinel tracking from third. The pace continued to be stiff with a :26.4 quarter up the backstretch, hitting the three-quarters in 1:20.1. That’s where Lyons Sentinel pulled from third and just took off. She motored alongside JK First Lady at the top of the turn and pulled away by two lengths heading into the stretch. She was in full flight down the lane where she opened up 2-¼ lengths over Rocknificent and won in 1:48.1.
Her driver, Tim Tetrick, was all smiles after the race and was very complimentary of his winner.
“My mare was super today. She was on her toes and just dragged me around the track there and just went on her own.”
Artful Way wins the $50,900 Bert Beckwith Memorial
Plainridge Park hosted the renewal of the Bert Beckwith Pace that was contested for $50,900 and Artful Way was victorious on the strength of a season’s best performance.
Artful Way left from post two and led from gate to wire. After getting to the half in :55.4, Andrew McCarthy was out and rolling with Cigars And Port and pushed the pace to the three quarters in 1:22 flat. But that bid unraveled around the last turn and Artful Way swelled up down the lane, opening up a 2-¼ length win in a personal season’s best of 1:50.
It was the sixth win of the year for Artful Way ($4.80) and owner, the Kellogg Racing Stable. Jackie Greene trains the winner.