08/15/2012 11:47AM

Meadowlands: Gingras and Tetrick battle for driving title

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Iron Horse Photo
Yannick Gingras with his beloved Foiled Again after winning the Molson Pace.

There will be a changing of the guard at the Meadowlands on Friday night. In the midst of a stakes-filled card and the first leg of the Meadowlands/Vernon Driver Championship, two sulky regulars – Yannick Gingras and Tim Tetrick - will vie for the honor of unseating reigning driving kingpin Brian Sears, who has won the most races at the East Rutherford, NJ oval for six of the prior seven years.

Gingras (122 wins) and Tetrick (121) are nearly deadlocked atop the standings. Over the last 30 years, the battle for leading driver has finished in a tie twice: 1996 (John Campbell and Mike Lachance) and 2003 (David Miller and Luc Ouellette). Amazingly, those four names along with Sears account for five of only nine drivers to have captured the top spot over the last three decades. The others are William O’Donnell, Jack Moiseyev, George Brennan, and Ron Pierce.

While Tetrick has never won a Meadowlands title, he has been the leading money-winning driver in North America since 2007. For Gingras, who is second behind Tetrick in earnings in 2012 and had his best year in 2011 ($11,964,152), a driving title would cap off what is shaping up as a career year.

“There is no doubt it would be nice,” said Gingras. “I had a great meet. It started off unbelievable and then Timmy got hot. We have been going back and forth lately.”

Gingras may have a few advantages on Friday. Of course being up one win is huge, but he also listed to drive 10 horses on the 12-race Meadowlands card to Tetrick’s 9. In addition, Gingras, who is known as the “Green Hornet” because of his driving colors, has quite a few favorites on the Friday program.

“He’s got to win two more than me to win,” said Gingras. “If things go smoothly with Maven (a heavy favorite in race four), that means he needs three to beat me.”

The 33-year-old Gingras was kind enough to give an inside look at his drives on Friday.

Race 2 – (5) DOUBLE IT UP

“His lines don’t look great, but hopefully I can pick up some points for the Drivers Championship (the two-track contest which offers a $10,000 prize to the driver with the most points at the Meadowlands and $25,000 to the overall leader after both tracks). It is very interesting for drivers because the money is like winning a million dollar race.”

Race 3 – (8) SHARED PAST

“She is a nice filly who is getting better and better, but I would have liked to draw inside.”

Race 4 – (1) MAVEN

“Last week (Aug 4) I went in very confident but I had to check when Check Me Out broke; that’s racing. Hopefully everything goes smoothly this week.”

Race 6 – (2) ROCKIN AMADEUS

“He’s big and powerful like a lot of his brothers. He is nice to drive and has all the tools. It looks like there are 3 or 4 others in there to worry about.”

Race 7 – (11) DROP THE BALL

“Everything looked great on the first turn (on Aug 4) and then Lightning Treasure broke and I was stuck first-over. That is kind of how my Hambo day went. I don’t think the second tier draw will affect her and GINGER AND FRED (post 1) and ANNDROVETTE (post 2) are in front of her with speed.”

Race 8 – (7) INTHEBLINKOFANEYE

“I wanted one I could take a shot with and put in play,” said Gingras, who got to choose his horse as part of the Driver Championship format and elected against the Ron Burke-trained Real Special even though he drives regularly for the barn. “Real Special is kind of a trip-type horse and there is not much speed in there.”

Race 9 – (5) HES A BEACHBOY

“I have been racing against him and last week he was locked in too long and had some pace. I wasn’t upset to get him in that Driver Championship leg.”

Race 10 – (3) FOILED AGAIN

“The trip was okay last time but second-over is not really his trip and he was parked every step of the race. I would love to be first over with him and either I’ll go by Golden Receiver or he’ll put me away. I really don’t know with him until the final turn whether he’ll be really good. It would be really sweet if I could lock [the title] up with this horse. With as much as he has shown up for me over the years, to win the title and get him over $4 million in earnings would be special.

Race 11 – (1) UNEFOISDANSMAVIE

“She was very, very good last week. Ronnie (Burke) actually called me to make sure I was driving last time because he saw a (Ed) Gannon horse and thought I might own a piece of it. He never calls me. I think she has a big shot in there.”

Race 12 – (3) LEMON DROP HALL

“I don’t know why he made a break last time, but if he returns to form I should be fine.”

The Meadowlands has a special 6:35 post time for the 12-race card and will offer fireworks after the races.