09/17/2015 2:04PM

Mohawk: Gingras has confidence in Trotting Classic fave Pinkman

New Image Media
Pinkman was a convincing winner in his Canadian Trotting Classic elimination.

Yannick Gingras made a decision before the second heat of the Hambletonian that kept him out of the winner’s circle after the $1 million final at the Meadowlands. Thankfully he’s been given a second chance to get behind Pinkman and the driver appears as excited about the Explosive Matter-sired gelding heading into Saturday’s C$700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk as he was entering the Hambletonian.

“He’s just as good now as he was then,” said Gingras about the form of Pinkman, a horse that recovered from a three-race losing streak to score in one of two eliminations for the Canadian Trotting Classic last Saturday.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights every Saturday night--starts at 7:00 on 9/19]

“He actually raced really well in the Yonkers Trot final,” said Gingras. “The problem was that he kept on losing ground on every turn.”

A winner in nine of 13 starts this year, Pinkman will start from post four in the tenth race as part of a major night of stakes action at Mohawk. The Canadian Trotting Classic is the most prestigious sophomore stakes event in Ontario and Pinkman appears to be back at the top of the class after last week.

But Gingras is far from counting his chickens just yet. Less than a month ago Pinkman entered the $500,000 Colonial Trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono as the 1-10 favorite. Things did not go well that night when Pinkman broke before the start and never recovered. Much was discussed with trainer Jimmy Takter after that miscue but Gingras lost little faith in the horse.

“I told Jimmy to leave him the way he was,” said Gingras. “It was just one of those things and it will probably never happen again.”

Confidence is a major asset in the trotting game and Gingras clearly has an abundance of it when Pinkman is concerned. Yet he won’t enter Saturday’s contest overconfident.

“Sure I think he’s the horse to beat, but there are plenty others in the field that have a license to win. Uncle Lassie was very good last week winning his elimination. Crazy Wow has been solid all year. The Bank was very good last week,” said Gingras.

Uncle Lasse was indeed very good last week, finally returning to the winner’s circle. Trainer Takter put Brian Sears in the bike and that may have had something to do with it. Sears and Gingras battled in both legs of the Triple Crown with Sears in the winner’s circle on each occasion. In Uncle Lasse (post 3) he will guide a horse with an immense amount of tactical speed.

Crazy Wow has won half of his 12 starts this season for trainer Ron Burke and drew post eight for the Canadian Trotting Classic. Tim Tetrick will guide the New York-bred son of Crazed. Crazy Wow captured the Colonial and then handed Pinkman a defeat in a Yonkers Trot elimination on August 29. Crazy Wow broke at the start of the Yonkers Trot final losing all chance. He rebounded with a solid performance finishing second in last week’s elimination heat.

The Bank scored a major victory with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike capturing the $350,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship on September 5. He chased Pinkman home last week after leaving alertly from the outside. On Saturday The Bank drew further outside landing post 10, but his chances could improve with David Miller hopping in the bike for the first time.

If there are two sleepers in the Canadian Trotting Classis field they are Muscle Diamond (post 7) and Centurion ATM (post 9). Hall of Famer John Campbell thought that all Muscle Diamond needed was more racing to get tighter. The Muscle Hill-sired colt had to step up in class somewhat for last week’s trials but finished a credible third. He’ll have to step up again to be a contender on Saturday.

Centurion ATM may simply not like the inside lanes at some tracks. He has broken before the start in his last two outings but last week recovered enough to qualify for the final. Last year’s Peter Haughton Memorial champion teased his fans with a second-place finish timed in 1:51 after breaking in a division of the Dancer Memorial at The Meadowlands on July 18. Whether there’s another mile like that in the Ake Svanstedt-trained colt remains to be seen.

Gingras has a host of live drives on Saturday including the heavy favorites in the William Wellwood Memorial (Southwind Frank) and the Elegantimage (Mission Brief).

“Mission Brief is much sounder now than she was for the Hambletonian,” said Gingras. “Ron let out her hobbles three inches before the last race and she was very good.”

Gingras doesn’t believe he’s going to need to make another decision as he did on Hambletonian Day. A potential meeting between Pinkman and Mission Brief could take place on October 10 in the Kentucky Futurity, but Gingras was thinking it might not come off. “The Breeders Crown eliminations are six days later,” Gingras said. “But it is up to the owners.”

Both will see action with Gingras in the bike on Saturday. What happens three weeks hence remains to be seen.