06/24/2015 3:37PM

Pandolfo: Ginsburg tastes Meadowlands success

Lisa Photo
Vincent Ginsburg drove Account Rollover to victory in the Caramore final.

Sometimes opportunity knocks. During the past couple of Saturday nights, most of the top Meadowlands drivers were at Mohawk competing in major stakes races. This meant more drives for young Jersey-based drivers like Vinny Ginsburg.

Ginsburg is one of the top drivers at Freehold where he ranked third on the driver leaderboard at the recently concluded meet. The 26-year-old had his best year ever in 2014, winning 137 races for $711,414 in purses. This year he's ahead of that pace.

With the veteran drivers out of town, Ginsburg made the most of his opportunities. Along with a six-pack of victories over consecutive Saturdays, he won the Caramore Final with Account Rollover.

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On Saturday, June 13, Ginsburg picked up the drive on Account Rollover in the second leg of the Caramore pacing series. Tim Tetrick had driven the horse the week before.

"From watching replays, I noticed that Account Rollover is quick. He can beat the gate. We drew post 9. I knew that the horse to beat was Freddy Day Hanover, who's a good horse with some class. I felt that I could loop him out of there and maybe follow him," said Ginsburg, who did just that, hitting the quarter in 26 1/5 before yielding to the 4/5 favorite.

"My horse had a lot left," Ginsburg said. "He finished in 27 3/5 for the win."

Last week in the Caramore Series Final, Account Rollover drew post 1 and Ginsburg rated him perfectly for the win.

"I think showing that strong gate speed the week before may have helped me in the final," Ginsburg said. "Only one other horse left, the Burke horse, Stonehouse Adam. So I just let my horse relax at the start and then quarter-moved to the lead. But Dauplaise's horse, Long Live Rock, who has some class, came at us hard the last half. I was confident, though. I thought my horse would hold him off and he did."

Despite his age, Ginsburg says racing against the best drivers in the sport is hardly nerve-racking.

"I don't get nervous," Ginsburg said. "I get excited. I love driving and it's fun to drive good horses. With so many top drivers at the Meadowlands, they get their pick and I end up with horses that I have to try to work out an easy trip with. It was nice to get some horses that I could put into play, leave or go first-over with if I had to."

Ginsburg grew up around horses in New Jersey. His grandfather, Vincent Fusco, Sr., and his uncles Carmine, Paul, and Vinnie, were all in the business as trainers and drivers.

"My grandfather, Vincent Fusco, Sr., who lives in Freehold, has a small training track right in his backyard. It's one-fifth of a mile so you've got to go around five times. The first time I ever sat in a sulky, when I was 13, I was jogging a horse around that little track."

Ginsburg started driving in 2009 and he admits that he wasn’t exactly an expert from the start despite starting his career with a win.

"I won with my first drive, which was at Freehold,” said Ginsburg. “The name of the horse was Badlands Woman. I'm not sure if I knew what I was doing, but winning my first drive ever was a confidence booster.

"I'd say that for the first two months or so I was still a little nervous,” he continued. “I remember the first time I drove in the rain, I couldn't see a damn thing. I had to figure out a better way of using the goggles. But after those first few months I got comfortable.

"I've been in a couple of wrecks (accidents) and that's the toughest part of driving horses. I don't care how much experience you have, you come back after an injury, or getting thrown in a spill, and you tend to drive a bit more cautiously. Psychologically, it can take a while to get over it."

Like any young driver, Ginsburg was influenced by some top reinsmen, including some Hall of Famers.

"When I first started out, my uncles were using Georgie Nap (Napolitano) on a lot of their horses and that guy is a great driver,” said Ginsburg. “In a way I think he's underrated because he drives against tough colonies at Harrah's (Philadelphia) and Pocono, and many nights he dominates. He's a lot like Walter Case, Jr. He can make speed and he can keep a horse going even when it looks like the horse is tiring.

"Driving against Cat Manzi was a great experience for me,” said Ginsburg. “I think I learned a lot watching him. He was a very smart tactical driver. He's also a very nice guy.

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"At the Meadowlands, John Campbell. Did you see his drive on Doo Wop Hanover in the Graduate Final last Friday? He's parked out near the back of the pack, unable to flush cover. Some drivers might panic in that situation and use their horse too hard. But Campbell is so cool. He saved ground with his horse and timed his move perfectly. It was a great drive. I don't care what age he is, Campbell is still an elite driver."

With Ginsburg spending much of his time between Freehold and the Meadowlands, one has to wonder whether the back and forth between two distinctly different size tracks have any effect on his style or tactics.

"Not really. It's just another horse race. You still have to go four quarters," remarked Ginsburg.

Regardless of track, Ginsburg is producing in 2015. He already has two more wins (13) at the Meadowlands in 2015 than he had in all of 2014 in 74 more starts. The future could be bright for this young up-and-comer.

To find out more about Pandy’s handicapping theories check out his www.trotpicks.com or www.handicappingwinners.com websites, his free picks at handicapping.ustrotting.com/pandycapping.cfm or write to Bob Pandolfo, 3386 Creek Road, Northampton, PA 18067.