02/06/2014 12:30PM

Meadowlands: Leading driver Gingras is fresh off a layoff

Derick Giwner
Yannick Gingras has 12 drives at the Meadowlands on Saturday night.

A two-week break in the action can sometimes alter the momentum of even the sharpest drivers. But if you’re thinking that Meadowlands leading driver Yannick Gingras will be suffering any vacation lag heading into Saturday’s 13-race card, think again.

Gingras was named on a slew of leading trainer Ron Burke’s arsenal on Saturday night and the pair should be expected to extend their leads in both the training and driving standings at the East Rutherford plant.

Gingras and Burke begin their activities in race two as Damon Blue Chip (post 1) looks for his second straight victory.

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“That’s a good class for him,” Gingras said of the $20,000 claiming level. “The B-2 class was too tough for him.”

Damon Blue Chip has won his last two starts when entered at this level and looks for a third straight with Gingras aboard.

Gingras and Star Chaser should receive public support in the third race, a $15,000 claimer. “I raced him too hard last time,” said Gingras, “They got to the quarter in :25 4/5 and that was too much. I’ll try to keep him covered up.”

JLDontwastemytime (post 4) is Gingras’ mount in the fifth race, a C-1 event, and the driver seems puzzled by the horse. “He’s been a little bit of a disappointment. I need to figure him out,” said Gingras, “Maybe if I race him from the back.” The driver believes the four-year-old has speed but confesses that he needs to find the trip that leads to the winner’s circle.

Gingras is excited to be driving Easy Again in the $30,000 sixth race feature. “I haven’t driven him but I’ve heard he’s been racing very well at The Meadows,” said Gingras.

Easy Again won three straight at The Meadows before a creditable fourth-place finish on January 18 at Yonkers. The five-year-old Easy Again doesn’t appear to be an Invitational type but he won’t be facing many in Saturday’s feature. Gingras, to his credit, knows plenty about a horse he’s never driven.

“I remember when he (Easy Again) beat Sweet Lou as a two-year-old,” Gingras said of the son of Dragon Again.

As far as Easy Again being able to tackle the FFA Handicap field, Gingras was confident. “It’s a winnable class. There’s no Foiled Again’s but he’s not at that level either,” Gingras said.

Fitz’s Z Tam is a horse Gingras believes can turn it around, especially at the C-1 level. “He’s a horse with a good deal of back class. He choked the last time he raced here,” Gingras said, referring to the last-place finish on January 18 at the Meadowlands. “This is a horse that won legs of the Levy Series!”

Morgan Shark drops to the B-2 class for his return to the Meadowlands despite a victory in his last start at Yonkers. For Gingras, it will be a return to the bike. “I didn’t drive him in his last start here but he raced good that night,” said Gingras. “I think he’s got a great chance at this level.”

Morgan Shark starts from post five in the $14,000 eighth race on the program.

P L Fighter steps up a bit off a victory in his return to the races. He goes from post seven in a B-1 class event carded as race 11.

“This is a horse that was so much better coming off a layoff than most horses. He qualified great and then he surprised me a lot in his first start coming from well off the pace and finishing strongly,” said Gingras.

“This is a very big step up in class for him. I mean when he qualified back I thought he was a :52 pacer and the horses he’s in with on Saturday are :49 or :50 types,” Gingras said, hoping to be surprised by P L Fighter again. The five-year-old Ontario-bred won just once in 28 starts last year and now looks for his second straight victory without defeat on Saturday night.

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Mindset is a four-year-old making his first start for the Burke stable in race 12. Gingras’ only experience was driving the horse one time for former trainer Tony Alagna. “He wasn’t very good the time I drove him,” Gingras said, while at the same time indicating that trainer Ron Burke has a history of doing well in his first start with a new horse.

Gingras closes his evening with Capital Account, a three-year-old with pedigree that hails from the Jimmy Takter stable. “I’ve been trying to educate him,” said Gingras. “Last time it worked out well because I was able to get him spotted from the 10-hole and race him from off the pace.”

The driver is always concerned when sitting behind a two or three-year-old. “You want to see them finish with something left,” Gingras said, explaining why he is careful not to stress a young horse with too many speed missions.

The Meadowlands leading driver appears refreshed returning from a family vacation in Costa Rica during the break. “We had a great time,” said Gingras.

Racing fans can expect Gingras to again have a hot hand on a cold night at the Meadowlands.

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