By Ken Weingartner — Yannick Gingras will head to Hollywood Dayton Raceway looking to sweep Friday’s Grand Circuit stakes at the Ohio oval with morning-line favorite Mission Accepted in the Dayton Trotting Derby and second choice This Is The Plan.
It will be Gingras’ first time behind Mission Accepted since the duo lost the Crawford Farms Open Trot by a nose on Aug. 11 at Tioga Downs. The 4-year-old stallion has not won since the Vincennes on Aug. 3, Hambletonian Day, at The Meadowlands, but Gingras has been impressed with the horse’s efforts in his recent starts.
Mission Accepted enters the Dayton Trotting Derby off a second-place finish to Lindy The Great in last week’s Caesars Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park. Mission Accepted was eighth in the outer flow for the first three-quarters of a mile before fanning four-wide off the final turn and rallying for the place spot.
Two weeks earlier, he was third, beaten only a half-length, in the Charlie Hill Memorial won by Atlanta. Trained by Ron Burke, Mission Accepted is 2-1 on the morning line in the $171,250 Dayton Trotting Derby.
“He’s been super sharp,” Gingras said. “Last time, he was loaded with trot finishing. I was really impressed with how much trot he had. And the race before, he was loaded that day too. He couldn’t be coming into the race in better form. I think he’s coming into the race in the right way.”
For the season, Mission Accepted has won four of 17 races, hit the board a total of 11 times, and earned $244,345. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable, breeder Knox Services Inc., David Wills, and the Weaver Bruscemi partnership.
“He’s very versatile and sweet to drive,” Gingras said. “He’s not the biggest horse, he’s not the most powerful horse, but you know he’s going to go on the track and give you everything he’s got.”
This Is The Plan enters the $151,750 Dayton Pacing Derby off a win in last week’s Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. After racing from the front in most of his starts this season, Gingras decided to race This Is The Plan from off the pace at Hoosier and got a second-over trip behind favorite McWicked en route to victory.
“I did go into the race wanting to change tactics,” Gingras said. “He had several tough starts in a row, and I figured it would be nice to try to get him covered up. You always have to respect McWicked and I thought that maybe if I could get McWicked in front of me, that might work out. Usually it doesn’t work out that way, but for one time the plan worked out to perfection.”
McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, is the 5-2 favorite from post one in the Dayton Pacing Derby. This Is The Plan is 3-1 from post five.
This Is The Plan has won three of 16 races this year and finished second on six occasions, earning $743,598. He ranks third in purses among all older pacers in North America, trailing only Shartin N and Lather Up.
For his career, the 4-year-old gelding has won 10 of 49 races and earned $1.38 million. He is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr.
Gingras hopes last week’s change in style and subsequent victory results in more versatility down the road.
“He’s been super consistent,” Gingras said. “He’s got crazy gate speed and puts himself into the race. I really didn’t know how he would race from behind. Heading to the Breeders Crown and the other big races coming up, I wanted to see how he would respond. Hopefully now he will be a little more well-rounded. Last week he showed he was able to do it. Hopefully he can continue in that direction.”