05/09/2013 10:35AM

Meadowlands: Gingras guides Foiled Again and Sweet Lou in TVG Free-For-All Series

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Mike Lizzi
Yannick Gingras gets his first chance to drive Sweet Lou on Saturday.

There are rewards for being trainer Ron Burke’s number one driver in major races. For Yannick Gingras it will mean getting to drive champions Foiled Again and Sweet Lou in $50,000 divisions of the first leg of the TVG Free For All series at the Meadowlands on Saturday night. Driving Foiled Again, the richest pacer of all time, will be nothing new for Gingras. Sweet Lou, the sport’s best two-year-old pacer in 2011, will be making his four-year-old debut and Gingras will be sitting behind him for the very first time in a pari-mutuel race.

“I haven’t driven him, but I’ve driven against him in a lot of races and know he’s a quality horse,” said Gingras, who prepped Sweet Lou in two qualifiers at the Meadowlands.

“He’s a powerful horse, really. He’s very nice to drive and he finished with plenty left in the qualifiers,” Gingras said.

While Foiled Again has gone through the aged wars for years and has appeared to come through them unscathed, Sweet Lou had some of his reputation hampered as a three-year-old after a brilliant two-year-old season. Gingras knew from afar that there were some soundness issues, but he believes what he sat behind over the last few weeks is a different Sweet Lou than people saw in 2012.

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“I think he’s healthier than he was last year,” said Gingras.

Many four-year-olds find it difficult to step up and race against the top older pacers in North America. Gingras didn’t set the bar high for Sweet Lou’s first race, with obvious recognition of what his horse will be up against in the sixth race on the Meadowlands’ 14-race offering.

“I don’t think he’s going to be able to cut the half in :52 and change and live to tell about it,” said Gingras, fully aware of the two premier aged pacers starting directly outside of his post four, namely Golden Receiver and Razzle Dazzle.

Golden Receiver has won seven of eight starts this year and returns to his favored oval with post three for driver Tim Tetrick. The eight-year-old swept the Presidential Series at the Meadowlands this winter and has struggled to find horses to compete against. He most recently scored in a $50,000 Open this past Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in a comfortable 1:50 mile. The Mark Harder trainee will start from post five.

Razzle Dazzle turned back Foiled Again in an epic $450,000 Levy Series finale at Yonkers two weeks ago. Trainer Mark Silva has put up John Campbell to guide his six-year-old on Saturday night.

This TVG division also includes Aquarius Series runner-up Warrawee Needy. The four-year-old returns from Ontario following a smashing 1:48 3/5 mile at Woodbine and will have the services of Jody Jamieson in the bike from post six.

Seven horses go to post in the second $50,000 TVG scheduled as race 11 and they’ll all be trying to knock off Foiled Again. The nine-year-old drew post three and we asked Gingras if he’s at all surprised that the horse was able to endure six straight weeks of racing in the Levy series.

“If you asked me that question two or three years ago I would say I was surprised. But nothing this horse (Foiled Again) does surprises me anymore,” said Gingras.

In fact, the driver believes that Foiled Again likes the rugged style of racing more than any horse he’s ever driven.

“He’s all heart,” said Gingras.

Foiled Again has won three of his six starts this year and gave Razzle Dazzle all he could handle in a bitter Levy struggle that left him only a neck behind the winner despite racing the final half without cover in a 1:51 3/5 effort over the half-mile track.

Foiled Again meets some new company in the TVG, most notably Hurrikane Kingcole (post two), a four-year-old noted for his blistering high speed. His 1:47 3/5 mile taken last year in the Meadowlands Pace consolation would give the impression that he’s a faster horse than Foiled Again (career best 1:48 1/5), but Foiled Again’s courage has vanquished many a fast horse in the past.

Still, Hurrikane Kingcole seemed ready for bigger game when he captured last Saturday’s four-year-old Open pace at the Meadowlands in 1:50 flat coming from off the pace.

Gingras also hopes to cash in with Visible Gold in the $58,000 final of the Hudson River Series, race three on the program.

“I haven’t driven him yet but I know Ronnie really likes this horse,” said Gingras. Visible Gold, a winner just once in 26 starts in 2012, has won 9 of 10 races this year and should be a solid favorite from post four.

The TVG Free For All series includes nine preliminary legs and will culminate with a $500,000 final on November 30 at the Meadowlands.