Entering Tuesday, the 34-year-old Gingras has established personal highs with 517 wins, $14 million in purses and a .368 driver rating. He captured the Grand Circuit driving title for the first time in his career and on Monday became the 15th driver to reach $100 million in lifetime earnings.
Gingras surpassed $100 million when he won with Lucky House in the fifth race Monday at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Lucky House is trained by Ron Burke, for whom Gingras drives regularly.
|USTA/Ed Keys photo|
|Yannick Gingras went over the $100 million plateau in career earnings on Monday.|
“That was good,” Gingras said. “After last year I figured it was going to be tough to do better, but I always want to try to do a little more each year. But I’m lucky. I’ve been getting to drive for the best connections, so it’s hard not to do good. It’s all kind of snowballed and I keep getting better horses to drive.”
Gingras’ win total this year is ninth best in North America -- he could finish in the Top 10 in the category for the first time in his career -- and his purses are second to only Tim Tetrick’s $16 million. He also finished second to Tetrick last season.
He has driven a slew of contenders for year-end honors, including older male pacer Foiled Again, older female trotter Maven, 2-year-old male trotter Father Patrick and 2-year-old male pacer Western Vintage, not to mention stakes-winners such as Sunfire Blue Chip, Dedi’s Dragon, Wishing Stone and Charisma Hanover.
Gingras won Breeders Crown trophies with Foiled Again, Maven and Father Patrick. Foiled Again, at age 9, became the oldest horse to ever win a Crown and capped his year by winning the TVG Free For All Series Championship to push his career earnings to a North American-record $6 million.
“Winning the Breeders Crown with Foiled Again was the highlight of the year,” Gingras said. “A close second was getting to drive Father Patrick. I never had to sweat it in any of his races. Sure, there is some pressure being 1-9 and expected to win, but I knew if I lost it was because I messed up.”
Gingras was particularly happy to see Foiled Again win the Breeders Crown because he thought he might have cost the horse his best chance at a trophy two years ago. Foiled Again missed by a head against Bettor Sweet at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, with Gingras stuck in New Jersey because of a fluky October snowstorm.
“I felt guilty about missing that year; that one was on me,” Gingras said. “I knew (Foiled Again) wasn’t getting any younger and he might not get many more chances.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Winning the Breeders Crown with Foiled Again was the highlight of the year for Yannick Gingras.|
“To me, the Breeders Crown (this year) was the race of the year,” he continued. “To get it done and the trip he went was incredible. That was the most thrilling race I’ve ever been in.”
Of course, at this stage nothing Foiled Again does surprises Gingras. Foiled Again won six of his final nine starts this year and was never worse than second during that span. He ended the campaign with 11 victories in 29 races and $1.4 million in purses.
“He’s shown year in and year out that he can outlast them,” Gingras said. “He’s resilient and just has that desire to win. When it’s time to dig down deep, I haven’t seen too many with as much as him.”
As Gingras ponders how to top this year’s numbers in 2014, he is buoyed by the realization that all of his top drives are expected to return next season.
“This year was great with so many great horses,” Gingras said, referring not only to horses he drove, but the sport in general. “There are so many worthy candidates (for Horse of the Year) it’s scary. And with maybe the exception of (injured) I Luv The Nitelife, all of them should be coming back. It should be another great year next year.”