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Harness Highlights: Retirees Put Exclamation Point On Careers

by Frank Carulli

November 24, 2020

Imagine four standardbreds with a combined 107-206 record and $8.6 million in earnings bidding farewell to racing on the same card.

It happened in the TVG Series finals last Saturday at the Meadowlands and, to no one’s surprise, all four – Bettor’s Wish, Manchego, Kissin In The Sand and Plunge Blue Chip -- went out a winner.

Bettor’s Wish won the $340,000 Open Pace by 2-3/4-lengths in 1:48.1 for trainer Chris Ryder and co-owners Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Bettor’s Wish Partners. The 2019 Pacer of the Year finished with 24 wins and 41 in-the-money finishes in 44 starts, good for a $2.6 million bankroll.

“I barely asked him tonight, to be honest,” said winning driver Dexter Dunn said. “It was all him. It’s been him his whole career. He’s a true racehorse.”

Trainer Nancy Takter had Manchego and Kissin In The Sand primed for their final start.

Manchego, a three-time Breeders Crown champion, defeated 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta by 1-1/4 lengths in the $320,000 Open Trot in 1:51.3, giving the 5-year-old mare 33 wins from 56 starts and $2.72 million in earnings for owner Barry Guariglia’s Black Horse Racing.

Kissin In The Sand was most impressive, drawing off to a stakes-record 1:48 victory in the $150,000 Mare Pace. She closed her career with seven wins in a row and an overall 27-58 mark for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables.

In the $140,000 Mare Trot, Plunge Blue Chip avenged a recent loss against even-money favorite When Dovescry in the Steele Memorial Stakes with a front-end victory by 1-1/4 lengths, equaling the stakes record in 1:51.4. Ake Svanstedt trains and drives the 5-year-old mare for Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. Both mares entered the race as millionaires.