09/18/2014 6:39PM

Little Brown Jug: Gingras wires the field with Limelight Beach

Conrad Photo
Limelight Beach won his first two races of the year in the Jug elimination and final.

With each passing week in 2014 it becomes more apparent that this is the year of Yannick Gingras. The leading driver in the nation won six races on Little Brown Jug Day at the Delaware County Fairgrounds and topped it off with Limelight Beach in the 69th edition of the $647,500 Jug on Thursday afternoon.

Lyonssomewhere took immediate control in the first of two Jug eliminations and led the way for three quarters of the mile while facing pressure from Beat The Drum at the half. Let’s Drink On It ($8.80) would engage the leader past the third call, took a clear lead when Lyonssomewhere broke on the final turn and held At Press Time at bay in a 1:51 mile. Beat The Drum and On Golden Ponder also advanced to the final.

The second elimination saw an upset as eventual final victor Limelight Beach ($12.00) bided his time in the pocket and finished with a powerful stretch burst to pass both Somewhere In L A, who was a very game uncovered second, and McWicked in 1:51. Sometimes Said finished fourth to make the final.

With the octet set for the final and Gingras drawing the rail with Limelight Beach, the tactics were simple over the typically speed-favoring track. Go fast and win!

Limelight Beach charged away from the gate as the entire field lined up behind the Ron Burke trainee in single file post-position order. After setting reasonable fractions of 27 4/5 and 55 2/5 on the engine, Somewhere In L A popped out of the three hole to begin his charge ahead of Beat The Drum and McWicked.

It proved difficult to come close to Limelight Beach as Gingras stepped on the gas with a 27 3/5 third quarter to keep Somewhere In L A at bay while McWicked launched a wide bid and Let’s Drink On It waited for room to develop from the pocket. But the fractions were kind to Gingras and Limelight Beach. The duo maintained their lead through the lane and coasted across the wire 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Let’s Drink On It and Somewhere In L A in 1:50 4/5.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” chuckled Gingras about the race unfolding as he expected, with Limelight Beach as the only early speed, “but I thought they would respect my speed and they did.

“This is a dream come true coming here and winning the Little Brown Jug. I won the Jugette twice but to be able to get this one done is awesome.”

Burke Racing Stable originally bought Limelight Beach with Weaver Bruscemi, M1 Stables and Wingfield Brothers with the hope of winning the Adios, but Burke knew that the Jug was a possibility.

“The track fits him better than anything, but maybe he is coming into his own, too. Maybe this is the start of something and not the end of something,” said Burke.

Co-owner Mark Weaver echoed the thoughts. “We’ve kind of said all along that the Jug would fit him best,” said Weaver, who put perspective on the win. “The Adios is my number one goal. I’d like to get that one time, but this ranks right up there. This is a pretty cool place to be.”

Limelight Beach’s two victories in the 3-year-old colt pacing classic on Thursday marked his first wins on the year in now 14 total starts. He more than doubled his current year earning to $468,738 and paid $4.00 to win.

Jug Day Notes

On the undercard, Classic Martine went all the way on the front to capture the $121,500 Ms. Versatility for older trotting mares. Driver Tim Tetrick rated a very soft 57 half and cruised home an easy winner over Charmed Life and Maven in 1:54 1/5.

“Everyone knows my mare can leave like a runner. They would have had to really bust out of there to get around me,” said Tetrick.

Sumatra lit up the toteboard winning the $118,300 Old Oaken Bucket for 3-year-old trotting colts by a half-length over Datsyuk and a host of others in 1:56 1/5. The Tom Fanning trainee was parked every step of the mile before driver Brian Sears cleared passing the three quarters point. The gelded son of Muscles Yankee picked up his second win of the year in 12 starts.

Total attendance was announced at 44,101 and handle came in at $2,559,627.