02/11/2016 10:36AM

Meadowlands: Gingras refreshed after a short break

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Geri Schwarz
Yannick Gingras has gotten off to a slow start at The Meadowlands in 2016.

Leading driver Yannick Gingras returns to action this weekend at The Meadowlands after a week-long vacation and is looking to jump start his New Jersey season.

“It’s been tough at the Meadowlands so far,” said Gingras. “I do most of my driving for Ron (Burke) and he doesn’t have very many for the lower classes. The ones he’s had haven’t raced that well.”

Gingras seems refreshed after extending his stay in Turks & Caicos with his family. “We went there planning a seven day vacation but decided to stay an extra day,” said Gingras. “The kids had to get back to school.”

Gingras’ numbers at the Meadowlands may be reduced in 2016 but he’s gotten off to a tremendous start in Delaware.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights from the DRF Harness team this Saturday at 6:35 p.m.]

“It’s been a welcome surprise,” said Gingras of his numbers at Dover this winter where he’s driving just on Mondays.

“For the next three weeks I will be driving at Dover on Mondays and The Meadowlands on weekends,” said Gingras.

“After that, Corey Callahan, Brett Miller and myself are going to Australia for a driver’s competition.”

Gingras wasn’t sounding the alarm bells about his lack of success at the Meadowlands thus far, but at the same time appeared to recognize his plight as in the early entries he was only named on four horses on the 14-race Saturday card.

Gingras recognized that he would likely pick up more drives before the final changes were made. “There will be horses that others chose off of,” said Gingras, matter-of-factly in what appears to be a reversal of the usual form. Generally the leading driver in the sport has his choice on the menu but in the current driving colony and with the current caliber of horses racing weekends at The Meadowlands, the winter has in many ways left this driver out in the cold.

Still there are few other drivers in the sport that wouldn’t want to change places with Gingras given his impeccable record over the last few years and his ability to get the most out of the highest caliber stock. With three more weeks of winter until he goes Down Under for what appears to be a working vacation, the driver will return with plenty of other options and likely a more complete schedule.

“It will be different when I get back form Australia with Harrah’s (Philadelphia) opening,” said Gingras.

Of course the driver has plenty of other options ahead and among the best of his options is Mission Brief. The freakishly fast filly of 2014-15 returns as a 4-year-old this year and needless to say the sky is the limit.

“She was only a hundred percent sound maybe three times all of last year,” said Gingras. “Ronnie (Burke) tells me she is training back great.”

While Gingras is excited about the prospect of racing Mission Brief against the best older foes, he didn’t think by any means that the road to dominance over the aged set would be that easy.

“You have Ake’s horse (Resolve) coming back and he ended the year in a big way. You also have Pinkman and he’s a winner. Even though Bee A Magician may have had an off year you have to respect her for all the tough miles she put in,” said Gingras, while sizing up what is expected to be a rather formidable group of aged trotters. Those numbers could swell higher if others arrive from Europe hoping to test the waters in North America.

Gingras has been on the outside looking in this year in East Rutherford and it’s sort of fitting on Saturday night that he’ll be looking inside in the $20,000 featured pacing event with Limelight Beach. The Ron Burke-trained 5-year-old has earned over $1 million during his career and makes his season’s debut from post eight with Gingras in the sulky.

The non-winners of $17,500 in last 5 starts conditioned event has some very sharp horses including recent winners Ashley’s Husband (post 2) and Shooters Dream (post 3). Rockeyed Optimist (post 7) is making his second start of the season and Sometimes Said (post 5) is making just his third start as a 5-year-old having missed his entire 4-year-old campaign.

The Meadowlands has a 6:35 p.m. first post time for Saturday’s 14-race card.