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Trenton, NJ — Survey says…Final Claim! It was a one-man survey given to harness racing driver Yannick Gingras, who has driven both Final Claim and Goes Down Smooth in the Walner Series for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadowlands, but who had to make a choice between them for Saturday’s (April 27) $54,500 final. They are two of three Ron Burke-trained horses in the final (along with Cheap Tricks) and both are eligible to the Hambletonian. Final Claim is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, starting from post one. Goes Down Smooth, with Tim Tetrick in the sulky, is 3-1 from post two. Asked how he came to his decision, Gingras said, “I mean, I think they’re both really good, I think (Final Claim) right now is maybe a little stronger. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if the other horse wins it too. It was not an easy decision. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with what one you think, but it’s not always right. We’ll see how that works out.” Either way, it was a nice choice to have. “No doubt about that,” Gingras said. “It’s easier to pick from the two favorites than the two longest shots.” One thing that tipped the decision Final Claim’s way was his April 19 victory in his second of two Walner Series starts. He won by 6-3/4 lengths in 1:52.4, with a snappy last quarter-mile of :26.2. His win time is the fastest mile of the year by a 3-year-old trotter. “He was very good, he won fairly easy, he did what he had to do, so I’ve got to be happy with that,” Gingras said. “And he had some left, so that’s the good part. It definitely made a difference and was part of the reason I did pick him. “I do think both of them had something left. Goes Down Smooth wasn’t tired either the last time I raced him. But Final Claim was very good in that series. A couple starts before that I picked the other one, but changed my mind and decided Final Claim was the way to go.” Both horses had disappointing 2-year-old seasons for Burke, who was expecting strong years from each. They came back having to prove themselves and are doing just that. Last year, Final Claim had just one win but has gone 3-for-3 this season. Gingras drove Final Claim only three times last season, all in qualifiers before making his debut, and the horse went off stride each time. Once his campaign began, Final Claim went off stride six times in 10 starts, often when on the lead. “He was always fast last year,” Gingras said. “If you look at his lines, he was making breaks, but he was making breaks in the stretch. He wasn’t making breaks because he was tired, it was immaturity. He wasn’t ready to handle the speed he was going. He was a little dicey at times, a couple little issues. It’s mostly the reason why he was making those breaks. It’s not like he was sitting in the back and didn’t have the ability to do it. He just wasn’t ready for it. “This year he’s a little bit more mature and he’s able to handle it a little bit better. Sometimes that’s all they need.” There are still a few issues, but Final Claim is getting there. “If you watch him go you can tell he’s not 100 percent perfect yet either,” Gingras said. “He’s not bullet proof, he’s not exactly where we want him to be. But so far this year he’s able to behave enough to not make breaks. You just have to watch him; but he’s able to do it.” One of the nicer aspects of Final Claim is that Gingras has his choice of how to drive him, depending on the competition and situation. “It really doesn’t matter with him,” he said. “He’s been on the front the first couple weeks. Last time he sat third, he was really nice and easy, and let me do what I wanted to do. I pulled him around the five-eighths (point) and it was no worry at all. He doesn’t have a certain trip he needs, or nothing like that. I think he can race any which way.” Much like Final Claim, Goes Down Smooth has emerged after a tough rookie year. The horse was 0-for-9 last season but has won two out of three starts thus far in 2019. “He had ability too,” Gingras said. “A lot of time that’s what it is with these trotters, he just wasn’t really fully mature yet. I don’t think he has the ceiling that Final Claim has. Final Claim is bigger and stronger, and I think he does have maybe a higher ceiling than Goes Down Smooth. “But Goes Down Smooth was a little easier to handle last year. So far this year he’s been good as well. The time he made a break was more my fault than his. I got him to the gate a little too quick and that’s what really hurt him. But I think he’ll be just fine Saturday night.” Although he has been good to drive, Goes Down Smooth can also be a bit challenging at this juncture. Goes Down Smooth was 0-for-9 last season but has won two out of three starts thus far in 2019.  “He was a little harder to handle last week, he was a little grabby,” Gingras said. “I wish he relaxed a little more for me, but he didn’t. He might need a certain trip. I definitely think he can sit in a hole, but I think if he gets jammed up too much I’m not sure how he’ll like that. Final Claim right now might be a little easier to drive.” In looking at the two horses’ prospects for scaling the stakes ladder to Hambletonian Heaven, Gingras feels the horse he’s driving Saturday may have the better chance. “It’s big shoes to fill and let’s be honest, I think it’s not going to be that easy to go up and stuff,” he said. “Yes, it’s impressive the miles that they’re going right now; but some of these 3-year-olds did that last year. I do think Final Claim is the one that has a shot. He has that tremendous ability. I believe if one of the two does it, he’s the one who has a shot to go further. “But then again, horses make liars out of you. You never know how that goes.” Saturday’s card at the Meadowlands also includes the $58,500 Wiggle It Jiggleit Series final for 3-year-old male pacers. Respect Our Flag is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for driver Joe Bongiorno and trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. In addition, the Mr Muscleman Series for trotters gets underway with a field that includes 2015 Trotter of the Year Pinkman, Trolley, Ice Attraction, Yes Mickey, and Top Flight Angel as well as the opener of the Golden Receiver Series for pacers, where Donttellmeagain and Dealt A Winner make their seasonal debuts. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m (EDT). For complete entries, click here. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As the leading harness racing driver at the Meadowlands, Yannick Gingras has had his share of big nights at the mile oval, and Saturday at the Big M was just another of many for the 39-year-old, who scored four times on the 13-race program, among them the featured conditioned pace. Seeing Eye Single, a 4-year-old gelded son of Dragon Again-Shabalabadingdong, overcame post 10 and lowered his previous lifetime best by one-and-one-fifth seconds after stopping the clock in 1:49.3 in the event for non-winners of $17,500 in their last five starts. Gingras had Seeing Eye Single on the go from the start, following Captain Deo (who led at the quarter in :27) before clearing the lead just after the first split. A rated second fraction of :28.2 would follow before pressure would come from Stonedust, who was inching his way closer to the leader while first-over at three-quarters. Seeing Eye Single shrugged off that challenger to get some separation at the head of the stretch before holding sway to the wire, finishing a length in front of the pocket-sitting Captain Deo. Rough Odds was third with Penzance Hanover fourth. K Ryan Bluechip, the 4-5 favorite, was in a fourth-over flow before closing well to be a non-threatening fifth. Seeing Eye Single returned $6.00 as the second choice in the wagering, and in the process upped his resume to 11 wins from 28 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $359,926 for owners Burke Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Larry Karr and Weaver Bruscemi. "He was strong and won fairly easily," said Gingras of the Ron Burke trainee who sprinted his final quarter in :26. "He loves the big track." Gingras' other wins came with McRaven (first race, $8.20, 1:52.3), All It Takes (third, $6.00, 1:52) and Always A Diamond (sixth, $8.20, 1:52.1). BETTING TOPS $3 MILLION: For the seventh time in 2019, wagering at the Meadowlands exceeded $3 million, as a total of $3,046,148 was pushed through the windows. Race eight saw $341,302 in action, and the ever-popular 50-Cent Pick-4 served as the catalyst with a pool of $116,859. A LITTLE MORE: It was huge day for Austin Siegelman. Monticello Raceway's leading driver took his act on the road Saturday and piled up the victories. After winning five times during the day at Freehold, Siegelman then won three more under the lights at the Big M. ... Players who don't like chalk are loving life of late at the Meadowlands. Over the last four programs, favorites have gone nine-for-52, good (or bad, based on your preference) for a minuscule win percentage of 17. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Historically, the Meadowlands is a track where a horse can win from well off the pace, but Alotbettor N took that to an extreme in taking the featured high-range conditioned pace at the Big M harness racing on Saturday night. Bushwacker, the 9-2 third choice in the wagering, was on the point from the start to the head of the stretch, but nearing three-quarters there was a live flow coming after the leader, with the train being led by 2-1 favorite, Dover Downs shipper Penzance Hanover. Driver Vinny Ginsburg had Alotbettor N in the flow but had much to do since he was seventh in the eight-horse field with a quarter-mile to go racing fourth over. The duo proved up to the task. Ginsburg steered Alotbettor N to the outside for the stretch drive and the pair fired home in :27 to record a half-length win over McThriller. Stonedust finished third. "Alotbettor is such an honest horse," said winning trainer Jenn Bongiorno. "And he absolutely loves it when we bring him back to the Big M. I wasn't surprised at all how he won the race because I know he loves to come from off the pace and never gives up." Alotbettor N returned $16.60 to win as the fifth choice in the wagering after completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:49.3. For his career, the 8-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight-Falcons Flybye has won 25-of-88 starts and banked $259,415 for owners Joe Bongiorno, Howard Taylor and Thomas Lazzaro. On the driving side of things, Yannick Gingras had what for him is a typical night at the salt mine, visiting the winner's circle four times on the 13-race program. Gingras scored with McClinchie N ($3.80 to win as the favorite) in 1:51.3 in the first race conditioned pace, Blacklight ($3.80 as the favorite) in 1:52.2 in the fourth race for pacers who were non-winners of two, Spaghetti Eddie ($9.20 as the third choice) in 1:51.3 in the 11th race conditioned pace before capping his night off with U F Rockin Dragon ($4.40 as the favorite) in 1:52.1 in the 12th race conditioned pace. A LITTLE MORE: One lucky simulcast player betting into the Catskills hub was the holder of the only ticket that lasted six legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and was rewarded with a payout of $14,376. ... Ginsburg, Andy Miller and Dexter Dunn all had driving doubles while Nick Surick trained a pair of winners. ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 pool saw $108,946 in bets. Those who had 28-1 shot Mach N Cheese in the first leg and then went on to cash collected a hefty $3,874. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,782,432. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

CHESTER PA - A pair of $16,000 contests for developing younger harness racing horses, one on each gait, were the headliners at Harrah's Philadelphia on a dank Friday afternoon. In the pacing co-feature, which was for mares, War Crimes came home in 55.3, moving from third off the second turn to the lead at the 5/8 and running off to a 4 ½ length victory in 1:53.1. Josh Green conditions the winner of three straight and 7 of 12 starts lifetime for Green Racing Inc. And speaking of "running off," that's exactly what driver Tim Tetrick did after his fourth visit to Harrah's winners circle on the program, going on the dead run in an effort to meet transportation to reach his scheduled commitment in the first race at Yonkers tonight. In the trot, the developing Wishing Stone gelding You Need Stones won his second straight contest, and 11th in 36 career starts, by fronting his field and then holding off the late charge of Northern Credit by a length in 1:56. The winner, owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Carr, and Phil Collura, gave the teaming of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke its second winner of the afternoon - Gingras had three sulky successes in total on the card, as did Tony Morgan. In the $14,500 top event for fast-class mare pacers, Ella Christina pulled off a rarity at the still-young Harrah's meet - she came off of cover to overhaul the favored pacesetter Slick Artist A in 1:53.3. Tim Tetrick tipped the daughter of Western Ideal three-deep late on the far turn, and she built enough of a head of steam to outclose the chalk by two lengths for Louis Willinger, William Daggett Jr., Lawrence Vukovich, and the J L Benson Stables Inc. The win also gave Nick Surick his second training triumph of the day - he leads Burke by a 7-5 score in the early going here, not quite the 57-win lead over the #2 trainer Surick enjoys at his Freehold base.     PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

Pinkman, who won the 2015 Hambletonian on his way to being named Trotter of the Year, is ready for a new season and trainer Per Engblom is optimistic that "the old man" is poised for a solid harness racing campaign. The 7-year-old gelding makes his seasonal debut Friday (April 5) in the preferred handicap trot at The Meadowlands, which could be the first of two preps for Pinkman ahead of May's Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Big M. For the past several years, Pinkman has been troubled by chronic throat and breathing issues; he made a total of only 14 starts at ages 4 and 5. Last year, he enjoyed his healthiest campaign since age 3 and equaled his career high for starts with 17. Pinkman heads to Friday's race off a 1:54.2 win in a qualifier at the Meadowlands on March 30. He starts from post six in an eight-horse field and is 5-1 on the morning line with Yannick Gingras in the sulky. Sutton, with Andy Miller driving for trainer Julie Miller, is the 5-2 favorite. "The old man is doing good," Engblom said about Pinkman. "He had a good winter, actually a little bit better winter than he's had the last couple years. We didn't miss any training with him. He's been staying healthy, he's been breathing well, and he qualified great. "You have to take him for what he is. He's an older horse and you can't really push him. But if he's feeling well, he will give you what he's got." Engblom is well acquainted with Pinkman. A native of Sweden, Engblom is in his first year running his own stable in the U.S. following six seasons as the top assistant in Jimmy Takter's stable, where Pinkman has spent his career. Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter out of Margie Seelster, has won 19 of 56 career races and earned $2.73 million for owners Christina Takter, brothers John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. He was a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3 and counts the Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, and Beal and Zweig memorials among his victories in addition to the Hambletonian. Despite his health woes in recent years, Pinkman has earned $270,212 since turning 4. He won a Group 2 race in Sweden in 2016 and was stakes-placed last year. He trotted 1:49.2 in Homicide Hunter's 1:48.4 world-record mile in the Allerage Open Trot at Lexington's Red Mile, where he finished third. "He had a little bad luck last year," Engblom said, referring to eight starts from posts eight, nine, 10 or the second tier. "At the end of last year, he was doing pretty well. He trotted (1):49 and a piece in Lexington. He's still got it, we just need to manage him. That's the key. "He's been so solid (preparing for this season). I really think he's going to do OK. I'm really confident he can have a pretty good year. He's a sound horse. His legs are as tough as they come. It's fun to work with classy old horses like him. It's a thrill every time you train him." Friday's card at the Meadowlands also includes the start of the Walner Series for trotters and the Wiggle It Jiggleit Series for pacers. Each series features three preliminary rounds followed by an April 27 final. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For complete Friday entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

CHESTER PA - The most impressive winner on Friday afternoon's 2019 harness racing opener at Harrah's Philadelphia didn't come in the race with the biggest purse - but any time you can call yourself the fastest three-year-old trotter in all of North America, regardless of size of track, you deserve to be at the front of the story. Capt Chaps Hanover was sent to the lead in his maiden trotting event by driver Yannick Gingras. He got the lead in 27.4, rated the half to 58.4, then threw in successive 28.2 back quarters to complete the mile in 1:55.3 - faster than any sophomore has gone so far anywhere in the United States and Canada. The 7 ¾-length winner certainly had the pedigree to produce such a mile - an altered son of Explosive Matter whose second dam was the producer of $1M-winning Hez Striking - and he certainly had the backing - trainer Ron Burke and the ownership combine of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva - Purnel & Libby, most of whom were the team behind 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover. Just a tick behind Capt Chaps Hanover was another three-year-old trotter, the Yankee Glide gelding Blue And Bold, who made every pole a winning one while reducing his mark three seconds to 1:55.4, last half 57.1. Trained by Andrew Harris for A Harris Racing LLC and April Campbell, the frontstepping winner followed the trend of most of the card's successful horses - from which it can be inferred that it was a good day for driver George Napolitano Jr., who had four winners as he opened defense of his sulkysitting crown. The biggest purse contest of the day was a $16,000 trotting event, taken in wire-to-wire fashion by the Dejarmbro gelding Icingon De Cupcake, who teamed with George Napolitano Jr. to withstand Armagedon Seelster by a nose in 1:56.2. Owned by Dynasty Racing, Icingon De Cupcake proved to be the third winner of the day for trainer Nick Surick. Racing resumes on Sunday at Harrah's Philadelphia, with a 12-race card set to start at 12:40 p.m. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Racing luck usually plays a part when one wins a race. Getting an expert steer doesn't hurt, either. Those two factors were on display in the Saturday night feature at the Meadowlands, as Caviart Luca and Big M leading harness racing driver Yannick Gingras nailed favorite K Ryan Bluechip at the wire in the featured Preferred for pacers. Speedsters Castle Flight and New Talent were on the go early. Castle Flight led at the quarter in :27.3 while New Talent, fresh off his Big M season's-fastest 1:49.2 score last week, then brushed to the top at the three-eighths and hit the half in :55.1 as the 2-1 chalk K Ryan Bluechip was gradually chipping away at the leader's edge racing first-over. All the while, Caviart Luca was sitting in what appeared to be an impossible spot - third at the rail - with four horses in the outer flow. K Ryan Bluechip inched his way past New Talent with a little less than three-sixteenths of a mile to go. Enter racing luck and Gingras. Finding a seam just big enough as the field spread out in the stretch, Gingras moved Caviart Luca off the rail to get directly behind KRB with an eighth to go. Inside the sixteenth pole, Caviart Luca swung to the outside and managed to get up by the smallest of noses at the wire. New Talent held on for third. "I just got lucky to find a seam in the middle," said Gingras, "my horse was sharp and ready." Making just his second start of the year, Caviart Luca, eighth and last in his 2019 debut at Yonkers, returned $10.40 as the third choice in the wagering for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Phillip Collura. The 8-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere-Caviart Sierra, who completed the mile in 1:51.1, has now won 29-of-141 career starts and earned $742,535. ANDY'S DANDY: Andy Miller piloted four winners on the card, giving him seven for the weekend. Gingras was right behind him with six, after winning three times on both Friday and Saturday. On the training side, the red-hot Jennifer Bongiorno made two Saturday winner's circle visits, giving her three victories for the weekend. A LITTLE MORE: Wagering continued to be strong as all-source betting totaled $2,919,538. ... 50-Cent Pick-4 cashers walked away with $903.80 by using 9-1 shot Pepper Guy and driver Dexter Dunn in the ninth race. The winner's odds of the other three horses in the sequence were 4-1, 9-2 and 3-2. ... Dunn and Vinny Ginsburg each drove a pair of winners. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. Bettors will have a new wager to try as that evening will see the debut of the Can-Am Pick-4, a wager that requires players to pick two winners at the Meadowlands and two at Woodbine Mohawk Park. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Apparently, Yannick Gingras and Andy Miller like an off track, as both Meadowlands regulars, currently first and third, respectively, in the driver standings at the mile oval, each scored three times on the Friday night Big M harness racing card. At the start of the evening, the weather was spring like, with temperatures in the 70s, but a cold front came through after the fourth race, dousing the track with several intense rainfalls that made it necessary to delay the action twice during the remainder of the card. Neither Miller nor Gingras could have cared less, as each scored their trifectas after the track was downgraded to sloppy for the start of the fifth race. That's when Miller got his night underway, scoring with Abbeylara in a $7,500 claiming pace as the 8-5 second choice in 1:53.2. The resurgent Rubber Duck won the seventh, a conditioned trot, in 1:52.3 as the 6-5 favorite before Miller completed his three-bagger in the 14th race with Arch Credit in a conditioned trot in 1:55.3. After going a three-hole trip, Arch Credit skimmed the cones to become the night's biggest-priced winner at $23.80. Gingras began with Max Volo in the sixth race conditioned trot, scoring as the 6-5 public choice in 1:56.1. Well Said Maria (4-1 second choice) followed in the ninth race fillies and mares conditioned pace in 1:52.1 before Tearful Of Happy became Gingras' third of the night in the 11th race fillies and mares conditioned pace in 1:52.1 as the 5-2 second choice. A LITTLE MORE: The 14-race card saw a 6-1 shot win the opener and a 10-1 chance take the finale. The 12 races in the middle were won by six favorites, with no horse scoring at odds greater than 4-1. ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 fell just short of a sixth straight $100,000 pool, as a total of $97,185 was wagered. The sequence saw winner's odds of 3-1, 4-1, 7-2 and 5-2 add up to a healthy payoff of $1,001. ... Tyler Buter and Andy McCarthy had driving doubles while Nick Surick trained a pair to victory lane. ... All-source handle totaled $2,675,593. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Orlando, FL -- Moments into his speech to accept the Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award on behalf of legendary pacer Foiled Again during Sunday's U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet, co-owner Joe Koury Jr. was halted by USHWA member Gordon Waterstone. Koury knew he had not exceeded his time limit because he was just getting started, so he was surprised. Surprise was about to turn to shock. "Don't you think we ought to have the award-winner here?" Waterstone soon said to Koury. Enter Foiled Again. Foiled Again turned the idea of a surprise party upside down when he emerged from behind the curtained stage area to the delight of the 320 banquet attendees at Rosen Shingle Creek resort. Only a handful of people knew in advance of Foiled Again's appearance, which was conceived by Waterstone with Foiled Again's co-owners Ron Burke and Mark Weaver. "I was wondering what was going on," said Koury, who like the entire Burke Brigade other than Burke, Weaver and Foiled Again's caretaker for the night, Devan Miller, had no idea of the plan. "Next thing you know, Foiled was coming out. I was absolutely shocked. It was a great experience. It was exciting." Said Joe Koury Sr., "When Foiled showed up, it was unbelievable. I was shocked. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, it was just amazing." "I didn't expect it; that's the last thing that would have crossed my mind," said Yannick Gingras, who drove Foiled Again for the majority of the gelding's career and won numerous major stakes together. "I thought it was really cool, something different." Many others had the same reaction, which was what Burke and his co-planners had hoped. "It was unbelievable," Burke said. "I knew it would be a hit, especially with my father (Mickey), but it was a hit with everybody. It was one of the coolest moments ever. We thought it would be something nobody would be expecting and would add a little bit of fun, and it did." Waterstone, who in addition to being a member of USHWA is associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World magazine, worked with the resort's staff to set up Foiled Again's appearance. It required an extra bit of insurance and a protective covering for the banquet room carpet, which was new. "I called Mark about bringing Foiled Again to the banquet and he said to talk to Ronnie," Waterstone said. "I called Ronnie and he said absolutely, but he wanted to do it as a secret. "It came off better than I thought it would. You keep your fingers crossed. The reaction was unbelievable. To be involved in this was really cool." Foiled Again was already staying near Orlando, at the Burke's winter stable in Astor. "Devan did a great job," Burke said. "She had to prep him for it and people were wondering why she was prepping him when he was just there hanging out. He looked incredible. I was thrilled." Unfazed by the cheers that filled the banquet room and the joyful commotion that soon engulfed him, Foiled Again stood perfectly for his admirers. photo Chris Tully "He was like a little showman," Joe Koury Sr. said. "He's like a celebrity, a celebrity of the humblest measure. It was just unbelievable. He's amazing. I love him to death." Foiled Again reached harness racing's mandatory retirement age of 15 when the calendar turned to 2019. He is the sport's all-time richest horse, with $7.63 million in purses, and ranks ninth with 109 lifetime wins. He received Dan Patch Awards for best older male pacer in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was Pacer of the Year in 2011. Last year, he embarked on a Farewell Tour that attracted numerous fans to racetracks across North America, as well as garnering mainstream media attention. He will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in July. Foiled Again is owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and the Koury family's JJK Stables. The group bought the horse in 2008 when he was 4. He was trained by Mickey Burke briefly before Mickey retired and handed the lines to his son Ron. "He's a dream come true," Joe Koury Jr. said. "To be a part of this with such great friends and partners is amazing. We were all young guys who, for the most part, were just getting started. He brought us up all together and put us on a different level. It's just been a phenomenal ride." And now that the ride is completed, Foiled Again will enjoy a life of leisure. "He's basically going to live my dad's life," Ron Burke said with a laugh. "They'll be hanging out together forever."   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Dozens of harness racing pacers hailing from either Australia or New Zealand will compete at Yonkers Raceway in the next several days, which is a common occurrence. Less ordinary is the appearance of a trotter from Down Under, but that will be the case Thursday (Feb. 21) when Australian-bred La Grange makes his North American debut for trainer Per Engblom. La Grange, owned by Renee Spahr, is a son of Muscle Hill out of La Coocaracha. He was bred by Yabby Dam Farms in Australia and was a Group 2 winner during his 2- and 3-year-old seasons Down Under. Born in November 2014, he would be a 4-year-old back home, but is considered a 5-year-old in the U.S. because of the different breeding calendars. The stallion, who has won six of 22 career races and earned $68,723, drew post eight in Yonkers' sixth race, a $20,000 conditioned event, on Thursday and is 20-1 on the morning line with Yannick Gingras in the sulky. Four-year-old Seven Iron, a stakes-winner at age 2, is the 9-5 favorite from post one. "He's a nice horse," said Engblom, who welcomed La Grange to his stable in December. "I've seen in replays from Down Under, and from the way he feels when we're training, that he's a very strong horse. He can take a lot of air. He's very clean gaited; I just hope he's fast enough. He's more of a grinder than a speed horse, but I think he's OK." La Grange qualified twice at the Meadowlands ahead of Thursday's debut. He finished second, timed in 1:58, behind In Secret with Engblom driving and more recently won in 1:59 with Gingras in the bike. Engblom hoped to race La Grange last week at the Meadowlands, but the class did not fill. Rather than send the horse against open-level trotters, Engblom opted for the conditioned event at Yonkers. "There he can race in a class where he belongs," Engblom said. "Hopefully we can get him into the Meadowlands in a class where he fits so we can get started there. He's basically missing his 4-year-old year, so it's going to be a big transition. We'll see how he handles it. He was maybe a notch below the best ones Down Under, but he's a real good horse. La Grange will not be the first Australian-born son of Muscle Hill to compete in North America. Last year, colt Aldebaranwalkabout won two races, including a division of the Bluegrass Stakes, for owner Aldebaran Park Inc. and trainer Jonas Czernyson. Engblom will point La Grange toward several upcoming series for older trotters and also made the stallion eligible to some stakes races. "I don't know if he's going to be ready for the early stakes, but by this fall I wouldn't be surprised if he is," Engblom said. "He's got a series at Pocono, then we'll see. We'll see if he develops. He's a big horse, so I think he's going to be better with age. I think he'll be OK." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Since returning from a four-week layoff on Jan. 25, Resita has been on a roll for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. Friday night, the 5-year-old gelded son of Manofmanymissions-Winkys Magik won his third straight, scoring in the $15,750 conditioned trotting feature at the Meadowlands. Resita, who defeated non-winners of $5,000 and non-winners of $8,500 in his last two outings, respectively, took on one-rung below the Preferred Handicap types on Friday - the non-winners of $15,000 class - and passed the test with flying colors. The formful Derf Hanover was away quickly from post eight and had the lead at the quarter in :27.2. Resita rolled past that foe and had the point at the half in :56.4 as Pappy Go Go came after the leader and continued to press the issue at three-quarters in 1:24.4. The eventual winner shrugged off Pappy Go Go turning for home, but the horse Pappy towed into contention - 25-1 longshot Nows The Moment - tipped off cover and came after Resita. Nows The Moment was in position to pull off the upset, but as he inched to almost even with Resita in deep stretch, he went off stride, and Resita went on to a 1½-length win in a lifetime-best 1:53.1. Nows The Moment finished second, but was disqualified and placed fourth for being lapped on break to two other horses - Two Am and Derf Hanover - who were declared the official second- and third-place finishers, respectively. As the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, Resita returned $7.40 to win and stayed perfect in three starts this year. He's owned by Andrea Lea Racingstables and ASA Farm. Lifetime, he's won nine of 48 outings and banked $107,664. A LITTLE MORE: Gingras' remarkable February continued as the 39-year-old scored four times on the card, giving him 27 wins in 61 starts this month. ... A simulcast player in Montreal was the only bettor to last seven legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $15,161. ... Marcus Miller, Corey Callahan and Dexter Dunn all recorded driving doubles. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,661,109. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. Tuxedo Bay seeks his third straight win in the weekly pacing feature, the $21,000 Preferred Handicap. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Yannick Gingras is having a record stretch for a harness racing driver while betting continues at a torrid clip during February at the Meadowlands. After winning 13 races over the span of Feb. 1-2, Gingras followed that up with 10 more wins last weekend (Feb. 8-9) at the Big M, giving him 23 victories in 49 starts, for an incredible win percentage of 47. Not surprisingly, trainer Ron Burke conditioned many of Gingras' winners. Over the course of the four race cards, Burke had 15 victories in 24 starts (63 percent), with all of the winners being driven by Gingras. Cold weather, hot handle: Big M betting is on a roll of late. The first weekend of February saw just over $6 million in action before last week saw all-source wagering total just short of $5.7 million. The Superfecta, which offers a 10-cent minimum bet and lowest in the game 20 percent takeout, has seen an average pool of $38,236 Since switching to a Race 1 start, betting in the 50-Cent Pick-5 has been strong, as an average of $58,213 has been poured into play on the wager with the low 15 percent takeout The Pick-3 ($1 minimum, 20 percent rake) has averaged $28,382 The 50-Cent Pick-4 (15 percent takeout), the track's signature wager, continues to be a hit with bettors, as $97,538 has been the average pool size. Saturdays have been especially good, with average action of $109,680 The 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 (15 percent takeout) saw its first $20,000 pool of the year last Saturday, when a total of $21,633 was wagered. One lucky bettor in Ohio walked away with more than $18,000 after being the lone holder of a ticket "surviving" eight legs THIS WEEKEND: Racing continues Friday and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ... The Early 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five has a carryover of $40,545 awaiting players Friday. ... Free program pages for the Big M Pick-4 are available at www.ustrotting.com and www.playmeadowlands.com. WHHC QUALIFIER: The World Harness Handicapping Championship rolls on at the Meadowlands on Saturday (Feb. 16) with two spots to the April 6 WHHC final up for grabs. It's $200 to get in ($100 entry fee/$100 bankroll). Contest check-in and headquarters are at the main entrance to the Clubhouse, across from the Players Club Desk. Walk-ups are welcome, but must arrive between 5:30 and 7 p.m. For complete information, go to http://playmeadowlands.com/uploadedFiles/2019_February_WHHC_qualifier.pdf BRING YOUR SWEETIE: This Friday (Feb. 15), the Big M's Pink restaurant will offer a special Valentine's Day celebration with a $44.95 buffet that includes a glass of champagne and a red rose for the ladies. In addition, every time a driver with red in his colors wins, two lucky drawing winners will receive $50 betting vouchers in "Cupid's Cashout". The entry form will be in the live program. On Saturday (Feb. 16), the $44.95 buffet will be offered once again in Pink, and this time, a Florida vacation will be up for grabs, as one drawing winner will walk away with a trip to Orlando. Once again, entry forms will be in the live program. MADNESS IS COMING: It is upon us! March 19 marks the start of the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament. Come on out to the Big M and watch and wager on the games in the FanDuel Sports Book. From the Meadowlands Media Department  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke and big action highlighted a huge weekend of harness racing at the Meadowlands last Friday and Saturday (Feb. 1-2). Formal records aren't available, but when it comes to what Burke and Gingras combined to do last week, they likely aren't necessary. Since the inception of the Big M racing primarily twice a week in 2013, it's hard to imagine any trainer-driver team winning 11 times (in only 13 starts) over the course of a weekend, as Burke and Gingras did a week ago, combining to win five times Friday before taking a half-dozen winner's circle trips Saturday. "Yannick thought we had won six in a night once before," said Burke, "but to go back-to-back like we did is really hard to do." Burke won't be able to equal his win output during this weekend's action at the Big M, however - he only has 10 horses entered. "The more you win with conditioned horses there's more of a chance the next losing streak is coming," said Burke, "because they are up in class after winning. I don't need to win that many in any weekend anyway, I just need to be consistent." Gingras won twice driving horses for someone other than Burke on Friday to total seven victories, one short of the single-card record shared by Brett Miller and Mike Lachance. Again, with formal records unavailable, it's not known if after winning six more on Saturday that his 13 wins (25 starts) over the weekend are a Big M best, but it's extremely likely. While Burke and Gingras were winning at a white-hot pace, betting was like a wildfire in high winds during the two 13-race programs. All-source wagering on Friday was $2,874,831, the second-highest total of 2019. The next night, play reached the magic $3 million mark for the first time this year, as $3,147,209 was pushed through the windows. "What a great weekend of racing it was," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir, "and we are grateful to our fans, who supported us in a big way by betting over $6 million during the two cards." The Big M's popular 50-Cent Pick-4 wager took in a meet-high $110,700 on Saturday, and those who were sharp enough to cash a winning ticket walked away with $1,083.80. Free program pages for the upcoming Pick-4s this Friday and Saturday are available at www.ustrotting.com and www.playmeadowlands.com. The wager is offered on races eight through 11 and sports a low 15 percent takeout. STUDY YOUR FIVE COURSES: On Saturday (Feb. 9), come on out to the Big M's Pink restaurant and enjoy an incredible Italian feast. All five dinner courses will be paired with a wine that compliments each course perfectly. The cost is $70. To make reservations, call 201-460-4079. STUDY FOR THE WHHC: The World Harness Handicapping Championship rolls on at the Meadowlands on Saturday (Feb. 16) with a $200 entry fee and two spots to the April 6 WHHC Final on the line. Based on 100 entries, there will be $10,000 in prize money. For complete information, go to http://www.meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedFiles/2019_February_WHHC_qualifier.pdf. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Wagering reached the magic $3-million mark for the first time at the meeting and the team of harness racing trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras combined to win an incredible six races on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Twice during the course of the 13-race program, which saw all-source play total $3,147,209, single-race total wagering was in excess of $300,000. The Big M's signature 50-Cent Pick-4 saw its biggest pool of the year as $110,700 was pushed through the windows for the wager which spans races eight through 11. The sequence saw Burke and Gingras win twice, but when the dust cleared, no winning favorites scored leading to a payoff of $1,083.80. It was almost inconceivable that Burke and Gingras would top their five-win Friday night, but they did just that, scoring a half-dozen times on the Saturday program, good for a total of 11 victories over the course of the 26-race, two-card race week. Gingras won twice without Burke on Friday to tally a total of 13 times over the two cards. Saturday's edition of "Yannick and Ronnie's Awesome Night at the Races" started with a sweep of the Early Daily Double, as Try Try Again - making his first start for the Burke Brigade - scored from post nine in 1:55.1 in a non-winners of $5,000 trot as the 2-5 favorite. Approximately 20 minutes later, K-Lees Shakenbake won a $15,000 up to $20,000 claiming handicap pace in 1:51.3 as the 4-5 public choice, capping the $6.20 DD. Race six saw the dynamic duo win for the third time on the card with even-money choice Windsong Jack in 1:51.2 in a non-winners of $8,500 pace before the potent pair thrilled their backers with a pair of prices. Fireball took the ninth race non-winners of $8,500 pace in 1:52.2 at odds of 9-2 before 3-1 chance Ginger Tree Marty won race 10, a non-winners of $5,000 pace, in 1:52 to complete a Daily Double that returned $72.40. Larry Karr completed the sextet in race 12 as the 2-5 choice in a non-winners of four pace. The 4-year-old gelding went a tough uncovered trip to win for the fourth time in five starts. A LITTLE MORE: One simulcast player wagering into the Twin Spires hub was the only bettor to last eight legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and cashed in for $11,542.44. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - One would think after winning seven times over the course of last weekend's two harness racing cards at the Meadowlands that driver Yannick Gingras would have a tough time coming up with an encore. Think again. The 39-year-old Gingras, who led the Big M driver colony in wins during January with 15, came within one win of history Friday night at the mile oval, winning seven times on the 13-race card, falling one victory short of the Big M single-card record of eight, which is shared by Mike Lachance and Brett Miller. Gingras got some help from the sport's top trainer, Ron Burke. The potent pair were at it again Friday, teaming up to win five times on the program after winning three on both Friday and Saturday one week ago. Chief Justice gave the duo their first winner of the night in the opener, a non-winners of two trot, settling for a dead-heat with Alvisi Hanover, who hit the wire at the same time as the 4-5 favorite in 1:57.3. Misslarose took the second race co-featured non-winners of $15,000 trot in 1:54.4 as the even-money public choice, winning a second straight on the front end, before back class-master Resita powered clear in the third race non-winners of $8,500 in 1:54 as the prohibitive 1-5 choice. A week ago, several of the Burke-Gingras winners won despite being out of action for a month, but in the fifth race non-winners of $8,500 trot, they won with 4-5 favorite In Secret - who had been away for three months - in 1:53.1. But they weren't done quite yet. Burke and Gingras got their 'one for the thumb' in the eighth race non-winners of $8,500 for filly and mare pacers with Toronto shipper - and first-time Burke trainee - Bettim Jackie, who scored after making the top down the backside in 1:53.4 as the 5-2 second choice. Gingras' sixth win came in the 11th race for non-winners of $3,500 on the trot. The Mark Ford-trained Sortie Hanover hit the wire first in 1:56.3 as the 4-1 third choice before Gingras completed his seven-bagger with 2-5 chalk Bizet in the 13th race for non-winners of three in 1:56. A LITTLE MORE: A simulcast player in Las Vegas made a huge score in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10. As the only bettor to last eight legs, he or she walked away with $12,101.66. ... The Jenn Bongiorno-trained Divas Image was super in taking the co-featured non-winners of $15,000 filly and mare pace on the front end in 1:52. She paced her back half in :54.4 to hold off the pocket-sitting Ideal Lifestyle A, who was making her North American debut for trainer Tahnee Camilleri. ... Betting on the card was strong as $2,874,831 was pushed through the windows, the second-highest total in 2019. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, January 7, 2019 -- Yannick Gingras was so giddy Yonkers Raceway began its 2019 season Monday night (Jan. 7th), he popped in and reached a harness racing driving milestone. Career win No.7,000. It took until the finale and odds-on fave Prologue ($2.90) lasting on the lead to get Monsieur Gingras to the Promised Land, doing so by a diminishing nose in 1:53.2 Gingras, who began the dozen-race dossier needing three wins to reach the plateau, made short work of the $7.50 early daily double, escorting romping public choices Roll with Jeff ($4.80) in the $13,000, first-race pace (1:56.1) and ABC Muscles Boy ($2.80) in the $10,000, second-race trot (1:58). He then forced the rank and file to wait around until last call before receiving his gold star. "I'm not a numbers guys in that regard. I had no idea that the (7,000) number was upcoming until right before Christmas when someone mentioned it to me." The 39-year-old Gingras, a native of Greenfield Center, PQ, has career earnings in excess of $169 million and more big-money wins than can listed here without writing this in missive in installments. "To have it happen it here (Yonkers) where it all started for me coming down from Canada makes it special," Gingras said. Gingras counts his win with Foiled Again in the 2009 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series here as one of his personal highlights. "I don't know what else to say about him. He would get ready to begin his year in the Levy every season...just made for the half-mile (oval). "In the last few years, I've been concentrating more on the stakes races," Gingras said. "I had less drives (1,705) and had less wins (330) in 2018 than in about 15 years. This season, I'm committing to overnight racing, Yonkers Mondays and Thursdays, Meadowlands Fridays and Saturdays. "Winning never gets tiresome. As Cat Manzi said to me, 'You're only one win away from happiness.' " And the sign. Don't forget about the sign. Frank Drucker

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