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Southwind Frank returns to the winner's circle in Beal
Saturday, July 02, 2016 - by T.J. Burkett, Hoof Beats Executive Editor

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Wilkes-Barre, PA --- Driver Yannick Gingras tucked his whip and breathed a sigh of relief at the wire as he and Southwind Frank won the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in 1:52.4, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

USTA/Mark Hall photo
Southwind Frank flies home in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial final on his march to the Hambletonian.

After coming out of last week’s elimination with a virus, Southwind Frank-Gingras’ best hope for his first Hambletonian win-was back to his championship form.

Last year’s divisional champion got away fourth as Hollywood Highway took the lead from post 2. After a break by Hollywood Highway near the quarter pole, reached in :27.3, Southwind Frank took the lead the first time past the grandstand. Southwind Frank led the field through the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4 before holding off stablemate Dayson—who made a break—and coming home in :28 flat to win by 2-1/4 lengths. Trolley was second with Bar Hopping third. Southwind Frank paid $2.40 to win.

A son of Muscle Hill out of Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank is trained by Ron Burke for Southwind Frank Partners. The Gingras-Burke combo narrowly missed their respective first Hambletonian win last year when the filly Mission Brief was edged by Pinkman.

“I’ve been thinking about Hambo since the Peter Haughton last year,” said Gingras. “We are aiming for that first Saturday in August. All these starts just build up to that. We want to win them all, but the main goal is Aug. 6.”

Co-owner Jerry Silva of J&T Stables was part of the Muscle Hill ownership team when he won the 2009 Hambletonian, but is looking forward to another Hambletonian win with this colt.

“This is the ‘Frank’ that we had last year,” he said.

Mr. Beal, a former owner, trainer and driver who died in 2009, served as president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, where he was instrumental in bringing casino gaming to Pennsylvania racetracks, fought for increased simulcasting opportunities in the Keystone State, and ensured that county fair racing continued in Pennsylvania through tough times.

This is the sixth edition of the Beal Memorial, which was won last year by eventual Trotter of the Year Pinkman in 1:51.3.

Milligan’s School, winner of his first two seasonal efforts but then offstride in his next two, raised his 2016 record to three for five with a $21.80 upset in the $75,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial consolation. Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller had their son of Yankee Glide on his best behavior and in top form for this event, as he came first-over, then held off Love Matters, who followed his cover, by three-quarters of a length. The final clocking of 1:53.2 lowered his speed badge by a tick for the ownership of Stroy Inc.

--- PHHA/Pocono also contributed to this report.


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