By Ken Weingartner, USTA Media — As one of this weekend’s inductees into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, Sunday’s Hall of Fame Day was going to be special for driver Yannick Gingras no matter what. Winning the $12,000 Mr. & Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry Sr. Memorial Hall of Fame Trot in front of family and friends at Historic Track made it even more so.
Gingras and 7-year-old Crews Hilltopper rallied from nearly 10 lengths back at the half-mile point to capture the invitational event, which featured participation from fellow 2022 Hall of Fame inductee Ron Burke, as well as Wally Hennessey, David Miller, Dave Palone, Brian Sears, Jimmy Takter and Tim Tetrick.
Crews Hilltopper, trained by Jim Doherty Jr., won by a half length over Insanity and driver Tetrick in 1:57.3. Grinder, with Takter in the sulky, finished third.
As he crossed the finish line, Gingras waved his right arm to the enthusiastic crowd in celebration.
“It was cool, for sure,” Gingras said following a hug from daughter Addison, who was still on horseback after leading the post parade for the Hall of Fame Trot. “Winning in front of everybody, a lot of them traveled a long way, and last night (at the Meadowlands) I didn’t get to win any of them. Being able to win one for them, especially this one, and get their picture taken means a lot.
“It’s a big weekend. Everybody is getting older, the kids. As I get older, it puts a lot of things in perspective. Family means a lot.”
Gingras and Crews Hilltopper started from post seven at half-mile Historic Track. Full Rights and driver Miller led the field through the first three-quarters of the race while Crews Hilltopper methodically gained position at every call, from sixth to fifth to fourth before being second at the top of the stretch. From there, he out-sprinted Insanity for the win.
“When the draw came out and I had post seven, I didn’t really like my chances,” Gingras said. “I wanted to get (Crews Hilltopper) in the race, but a lot of people left inside of him. But the trip just worked out and the horse was great.”
Crews Hilltopper, a son of Break The Bank K-Hilltopperforjohn, won for the 22nd time in 143 lifetime starts and increased his earnings to $201,154. He is owned by Hero Stables and was bred by John Foster.