Gingras looks at Fall Four Stakes
By Ken Weingartner
Harness Racing Communications/USTA
After guiding Lyons Again to his first career win in his Governor’s Cup elimination at Woodbine last weekend, driver Yannick Gingras believes it is just the start for the 2-year-old male pacer.
Gingras arrived at Woodbine last Friday and Saturday with plenty of firepower for the Fall Four Stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters, and it all fired. He drove horses in all eight Fall Four eliminations, posting five wins, two second-place finishes and one fourth.
In addition to winning with Lyons Again, Gingras picked up victories in both eliminations for the Goldsmith Maid, with female trotters Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover, a win in the Three Diamonds with female pacer JK She’salady, and a triumph in the Valley Victory with male trotter Habitat.
He finished second with Three Diamonds contender Band Of Angels and runner-up with Governor’s Cup hopeful Blood Brother. His fourth-place finish was with Pinkman in the Valley Victory elims.
The Fall Four Stakes finals, worth a total of nearly C$2 million, are Saturday at Woodbine.
Lyons Again was the longest shot driven by Gingras, at 14-1, but his Governor’s Cup elimination win from post nine by three-quarters of a length over Traceur Hanover in 1:52.4 was not a complete surprise.
“He was a longshot for everybody (else) but I’ve really, really liked this colt,” Gingras said. “He’s really been a bridesmaid, always finishing second or third, but he ran into a really sharp horse in Artspeak early in the year. There’s no shame in finishing second to him, as sharp as he was.”
A son of Dragon Again-A Filly To Fear owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound, Lyons Again has one win, four seconds and two thirds in eight starts. Three times he hit the board in races won by Artspeak, with two runner-up finishes, and once he finished second to Yankee Bounty. Artspeak and Yankee Bounty are harness racing’s two richest 2-year-old male pacers and have combined to win 15 of 18 races.
Lyons Again, who finished third in the Metro Pace and has earned $161,687 this year, was not eligible to the Grand Circuit races at The Red Mile in Lexington, so the colt enjoyed a six-week layoff following his second-place finish in a division of the Champlain Stakes on Sept. 6 at Mohawk.
Ron Burke Keeps Breaking Earnings Records
By Ken Weingartner
With the record for purses in the bank and 11 weeks remaining on the calendar, trainer Ron Burke is now left to contemplate how much his stable can increase its earnings before the end of the year.
Burke, who in 2013 became the first trainer to eclipse $20 million in a season -- finishing the campaign with $22.23 million, moved $9,333 beyond that figure this year thanks to earning $11,750 at Yonkers Raceway on Monday night. His stable broke last year’s mark when pacer Rockstar Temper won the sixth race.
“It’s neat because coming into this year I thought we might not be able to reach that,” Burke said. “Now to reach it this early, you wonder how far you can go. The next mark is 25 (million dollars). There’s not a ton of stakes races left, but there’s enough that if we can put together a run, maybe we could do 25.”
Last year, Burke’s horses won 25 races worth at least $100,000. This season, the “Burke Brigade” has captured 38 races worth at least $100,000. Among those victories were 3-year-old pacer JK Endofanera in the North America Cup, 5-year-old pacer Sweet Lou in the Ben Franklin Pace and William R. Haughton Memorial, 3-year-old pacer Limelight Beach in the Little Brown Jug, and 2-year-old trotter Mission Brief in the Merrie Annabelle.
He also won four New York Sire Stakes championships, plus two sire stakes crowns each in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and one in New Jersey.