by Frank Carulli
June 22, 2020
Racing at the Big M last weekend translated to Big Money and Big Miles.
The Meadowlands hosted back-to-back, 18-race cards that produced $7.5 million in total handle and eight, sub-1:50 performances on the Saturday card.
The highlight of the weekend was a matchup between two of the best female trotters ever. Manchego, last year’s Breeders Crown champion, held off 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta by a nose in 1:50 in the $40,000 Miss Versatility Stakes on Friday to improve to 29-45 lifetime and pad her $2.1 million bankroll. Manchego (Dexter Dunn) brushed to command on the final turn, then held on desperately as Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) fought back.
Tim Tetrick drove five winners Friday and three Saturday, including Guardian Angel AS in the co-featured preferred trot.
Ideal Son (Jim Marshall IV) won the Saturday opener at 38-1, triggering a $32,943 Pick 5 payout.
Shane Tritton, a champion trainer in Australia, is making a strong first impression on U.S. fans. He and driver Jordan Stratton teamed for three more weekend winners, including 11-year-old Flaming Flutter N, who overcame post 9 to win in his North America debut in 1:49.
BAILLARGEON BARN TROTTING UP A STORM
The coronavirus might have shut down racing for three months but it did little to slow the progress of horses trained by Benoit Baillargeon.
Baillargeon is simply on fire at Woodbine-Mohawk Park in Canada. He is 16-for-41 since racing returned June 6 and sent out at least one winner on 10 of 11 cards. Rock This Way ($10.70) capped a Baillargeon triple Saturday night.
Of the 16 winners, 11 were trotters and 12 were driven by Sylvain Filion. The only two-time winner of the group was 3-year-old Stravinsky, who looks to be something special after back-to-back romps to start his career.