by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Hightstown, NJ — The year’s five richest 3-year-old trotters — males Crystal Fashion, Met’s Hall and Six Pack and females Atlanta and Manchego — will be among the horses in action in either the Kentucky Futurity or Kentucky Filly Futurity on Sunday at Lexington’s Red Mile.
Hambletonian winner Atlanta and Hambletonian Oaks winner Manchego headline the Kentucky Filly Futurity, which attracted 16 horses. The group was split into two $48,000 eliminations and the top-five finishers from each division will advance to the $224,000 final later in the afternoon.
Atlanta and Manchego landed in the same elimination, the second of the two, as did the fastest 3-year-old trotter in history, Plunge Blue Chip. Manchego will start from post eight and is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. Atlanta will leave from post three and is 2-1 while Plunge Blue Chip starts from post six and is 7-2.
Kentucky Sire Stakes champion Nixie Volo is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the first elimination. Racing begins at 1 p.m. Sunday and the Kentucky Filly Futurity eliminations are races two and three. The final is race six.
Manchego, the No. 1-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, enters the Kentucky Filly Futurity off a win in the Moni Maker Stakes on Sept. 21 at Hoosier Park. She has won seven of 11 races this year, with two of her losses by a nose and another by a neck. She has earned $650,234.
She will be facing Atlanta for the third time this year. She won their first encounter in the Casual Breeze Stakes on Aug. 24 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. In the second, the Elegantimage Stakes, she finished second while Atlanta finished third. The race was won by a neck by Phaetosive.
For her career, Manchego has won 19 of 23 races and earned $1.52 million. She was the 2017 Dan Patch Award-winner for best 2-year-old female trotter.
“I don’t think she could be racing much better,” said Yannick Gingras, who will drive Manchego for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. “The couple times she got beat it was by a nose here or there. I think she’s been racing great.
“I would say Hambletonian Day would be hard to top, she was so good then, and in the Casual Breeze because she was scary good then too. Maybe her last couple starts weren’t quite as good as those two races, but they weren’t far behind. I know how Jimmy works. He tries to peak her for certain races. I think Sunday is a race he’s zeroed in on.”
As for Manchego starting on the outside of her seven rivals, Gingras said, “Post eight, I don’t think it’s a bad post on this track.”
“Post eight with her is not that big a deal,” he said. “Leave the gate, go forward a little bit and make a decision of where we go from there.”
Atlanta is winless in three races since becoming the first filly since Continentalvictory in 1996 to win the Hambletonian. In addition to finishing second in the Casual Breeze and third in the Elegantimage, she was second in her most recent start, the preferred on Sept. 25 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“She just hasn’t been herself in her starts after the Hambo,” said Scott Zeron, who drives Atlanta for his father, trainer and co-owner Rick Zeron, and remaining owners Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant. “After the Hambo, you don’t know how to treat a horse that just trotted in (1):50 twice in one day. We took a more laidback approach and I think it backfired on us a little bit.
“My dad has made a couple of changes and hopefully we’ll have her back to the way she was on Hambo Day and prior to that. His job is to make sure she’s good and my job is to make sure she has a shot at winning. I think she is coming into this race back to being herself. We think she is heading into it great.”
Atlanta has won six of 10 races this year and earned $765,778. For her career, she has won 10 of 20 starts and $889,189.
Plunge Blue Chip, who finished third in the Hambletonian Oaks, has won three in a row heading into the Kentucky Filly Futurity. Her wins include the Hudson Filly Trot at Yonkers Raceway, where she equaled the world record of 1:53.1 for a 3-year-old filly trotter on a half-mile track, and most recently the New York Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 22 at Yonkers. On July 14, she beat Manchego by a nose in 1:49.4 for the fastest mile by a 3-year-old trotter in history.
“She has trained normally and everything looks normal,” said co-owner Ake Svanstedt, who trains and drives Plunge Blue Chip for remaining owners Blue Chip Bloodstock, Tomas Andersson, and Rick Zeron Stables. “It is tough horses and we will see how she handles two heats. It is the first time for her.”
Plunge Blue Chip has won six of 11 races this year and earned $485,101. For her career, she has won 15 of 21 starts and $889,791.
In the Kentucky Futurity, Svanstedt-trained Six Pack is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the second of two $93,000 eliminations, followed by Met’s Hall at 2-1. Tactical Landing is the 7-5 choice in the first, with Crystal Fashion at 2-1. The top-five finishers from the eliminations, which are races nine and 10, return for the final in race 13.
The Kentucky Futurity is the third jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. Atlanta won the first, the Hambletonian, and Six Pack won the second, the Yonkers Trot. Six Pack has won seven of 10 races this year and earned $694,573 for owners Svanstedt, Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. For his career, he has 11 wins in 18 starts and $893,215.
“Six Pack is a strong horse and I think he will handle two heats good,” Svanstedt said. “He needs a tough warm-up to do good. Without warming up so tough, he can be lazy. I don’t think two heats will bother him. Most important is the horse is good, everything is OK.”
Met’s Hall, trained by Julie Miller and driven by Andy Miller, has won four of nine races this year and $697,619 for owners Stroy Inc. and Andy Miller Stable. His wins include the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, where he beat Manchego by a nose, and the Simcoe Stakes. He heads to the Futurity off a win in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at Red Mile.
Tactical Landing, trained and driven by Jimmy Takter for The Tactical Landing Stable, also won a division of the Bluegrass. He has won five of nine races this season and $312,100. He was winless in two races last year.
Crystal Fashion brings a three-race win streak to the Futurity, including a victory in the Canadian Trotting Classic in his most recent start, Sept. 15 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He is trained by Jim Campbell, driven by Tim Tetrick, and owned by Fashion Farms. He has won nine of 13 races this year and $908,207. For his career, he has 13 victories in 25 starts and $1.06 million.
Following are the elimination fields for the Kentucky Filly Futurity and Kentucky Futurity, with post, driver, trainer and morning-line odds.
Kentucky Filly Futurity
Elimination One: 1. Pat Matters, Matt Kakaley, Paul Kelley, 4/1; 2. Highland Dynamite, Simon Allard, Marty Fine, 20/1; 3. Lily Stride, Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder, 3/1; 4. Supergirl Riley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 9/2; 5. Nixie Volo, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 5/2; 6. Courtney Hanover, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron, 8/1; 7. Perfect Summer K, Yannick Gingras, Andrew Harris, 15/1; 8. Seviyorum, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 6/1.
Elimination Two: 1. Piranha Fury, David Miller, R. Nifty Norman, 12/1; 2. Msnaughtyashill, Brandon Bates, Jeff Edwards, 20/1; 3. Atlanta, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron, 2/1; 4. Top Expectations, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 8/1; 5. Golden Muscle, Tim Tetrick, Todd Rooney, 15/1; 6. Plunge Blue Chip, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 7/2; 7. Looking For Zelda, Matt Kakaley, Norm Parker, 15/1; 8. Manchego, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 9/5.
Elimination One: 1. Eurobond, David Miller, Domenico Cecere, 8/1; 2. Crystal Fashion, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell 2/1; 3. Missle Hill, Doug McNair, Tony Alagna, 10/1; 4. You Know You Do, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8/1; 5. Evaluate, Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, 9/2; 6. Tactical Landing, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 7/5.
Elimination Two: 1. Six Pack, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 8/5; 2. Zephyr Kronos, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 6/1; 3. Met’s Hall, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 2/1; 4. Patent Leather, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell, 10/1; 5. Fashionwoodchopper, David Miller, Jim Campbell, 10/1; 6. Fiftydallarbill, Brett Miller, Bill Crone, 4/1.
For Sunday’s complete entries at Red Mile, click here.
- Dozen enter Futurity; Filly Futurity draws 16 for Red Mile closing day (Friday, October 05, 2018)
The final day in the Grand Circuit meeting at The Red Mile (Sunday, Oct. 7) drew 12 sophomore colts to compete in two six-horse eliminations for the $620,000 Kentucky Futurity, while 16 fillies dropped into two eight-horse eliminations for the $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity.