American Dream Derby winner Deanna Manfredi

American Dream Derby winner Deanna Manfredi

Carin Baer

Deanna's Dream: 'Derby' Stable and $250,000

Deanna Manfredi, a 36-year-old marketing consultant from Toughkenamon, PA, took home $250,000 and a stable of eight Thoroughbreds when Avenueofknowledge won the "American Dream Derby" for her on Presidents' Day at Santa Anita Monday.

The $35,000 race marked the conclusion of the American Dream Derby, an eight-episode television "reality show" broadcast by GSN that made Thoroughbred racing at the Arcadia, Calif. track its focus. Thanks to the live competition between eight of the horses in Monday's race – each representing one of the contestants – the game show winner was a complete mystery beforehand.

"I was so excited when they came down the stretch," Manfredi said following Avenueofknowledge's victory, which was accomplished on a sloppy main track. "When he started to pull away, that's when I exhaled."

An avid racing fan, Manfredi was given the fourth selection and chose Avenueofknowledge, a California-bred 6-year-old gelded son of Avenue of Flags and the Somethingfabulous mare Gift of Knowledge. She said she was attracted to him by a 1:39 4/5 one-mile work he recorded Feb. 10 at Santa Anita.

A maiden with eight previous starts, Avenueofknowledge has been trained by Howard Zucker during the past six weeks. He was ridden to victory in the one-mile event by Omar Figueroa and picked up his first career victory by four lengths in nearly wire-to-wire fashion. At odds of 6-1, Avenueofknowledge returned $15.60.

Manfredi, who grew up on a farm where her father bred and trained race horses, said she wants to keep the entire stable of horses and will continue to race them. Avenueofknowledge will remain in California with Zucker. The remainder of the stable will leave early Tuesday for Manfredi's farm in Chester County, PA, for some rest and relaxation. After several days on the farm she plans to ship them to Philadelphia Park to be conditioned by leading trainer Scott Lake.

"He's a family friend," Manfredi, said of Lake. "They'll probably go to Philadelphia Park first and then to Delaware Park when the track opens."

Zucker was elated with Avenueofknowledge's performance before 9,671 fans in attendance and a live television audience. He said he approved of the reality show concept to promote horseracing.

"This was so intense," Zucker said. "I actually bothered to follow the show and I liked Deanna from the beginning. The enthusiasm for this show is great and it's great to see all these people out here on a rainy Monday."

Country music singer LeAnn Rimes, whose song, "You Take Me Home," was the theme of American Dream Derby, performed a short set at Sirona's, the track's popular paddock view restaurant and bar following the race.

(Chart, Equibase)