Following a season of career firsts, Yannick Gingras is anxious to defend his Meadowlands driving title when live racing returns Opening Weekend, Friday, December 28 and Saturday, December 29, post time 7:15pm.
Gingras has firmly established himself as one of harness racing’s rising stars, and at age 33, the Quebec-born driver continues to soar at a record pace.
In 2012, the Green Hornet earned more than $13 million in purses for the first time, ranking him second in the nation.
Gingras also won his first Meadowlands Pace with A Rocknroll Dance and earned his first Big M driving title by edging Tim Tetrick in wins 125-123.
He passed 4,000 career wins, winning over 400 races for the fifth time in six years, and also hit the $85 million mark in career earnings.
“2012 was absolutely a dream year for me,” said Gingras. “I thought going in I could have a good year with the stock I had coming back, and it actually went beyond expectations.”
Gingras had A Rocknroll Dance in high gear in the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace, and the Dragon Again colt went down the road from the rail in 1:48.1 enroute to a million dollar season.
“I thought A Rocknroll Dance had a big chance to win the Meadowlands Pace, and he got the job done that night, and really all year long,” noted Gingras.
He also won the Pace consolation with Hurrikane Kingcole in a sizzling 1:47.4.
During the 2012 meet Gingras’ fast start and strong finish earned him leading driver status at the Big M for the first time.
“The Meadowlands driving title has always been a dream of mine,” he admitted. “It was kind of surreal to get that done because it was really my first driving title anywhere. When I came to the Meadowlands in 2004 I was still young and was just starting to dominate at Yonkers.”
Gingras capped off 2012 with a natural hattrick in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine with Dan Patch Award winner To Dream On, Maven and Rockin Amadeus. He also finished second with Drop The Ball and Little Brown Fox.
“Fortunately, pretty much all the horses I drove in 2012 are coming back,” he noted. The only one I’m not sure of is Little Brown Fox. Horses like Foiled Again, Drop The Ball, To Dream On and Rockin Amadeus certainly give me something to look forward to in 2013.”
Gingras and Foiled Again continued to wreak havoc in the free for all ranks. The 2011 Pacer of the Year roared back at age eight with another million dollar campaign and was voted the sport’s top older pacer for the second straight year. The son of Dragon Again also became the richest pacer of all time at $4.6 million with a dramatic upset in the $794,870 Canadian Pacing Derby in 1:48.3 at Mohawk, the biggest career win for horse and driver.
“What amazed me about Foiled Again is he wasn’t quite as sharp going into that race as he was at other points in his career,” recalled Gingras. “It was the first time he had a chance to go for the money record, plus he did it from a spot where he usually doesn’t win. He closed from eighth and was zig-zagging between horses. It just defined his career. He’s an overachiever and an unbelievable horse, and on that stage he gave me my biggest win ever. It was a great thrill and I’m so proud of that horse. He’s not the fastest nor the biggest horse out there, but he’s got a huge heart and makes money. If he stays healthy the $5 million mark is well within his reach.”
It’s all about horse power, and Gingras will continue to have plenty of it as the go-to guy for Ron Burke, the Big M’s leading trainer in 2012.
“Ron Burke is a great person to drive for,” said Gingras. “He’s not going to call you to give you a hard time when you mess up. I feel I’m definitely still improving as a driver. I was on top of my game this past year and I’m really confident in myself. He sees that and I think we’re a great team. He likes the way I race his horses. He wants somebody who gives his horses the best chance to win.”
Gingras will be part of a driver autograph session on the Paddock Level on Saturday, December 29 from 6 to 6:30pm when the Meadowlands offers a 2013 calendar giveaway. He will also be an In The Sulky guest on the track’s pre-card broadcast.
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