Gingras Wins No. 8,000

Yannick Gingras is being inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame this July and he got his 2022 highlight reel off to a good start by getting his 8,000th win after guiding Bettors Donttell to victory lane in the sixth race.

It was fitting the score came for trainer Burke, with whom Gingras has teamed with to win countless races during his stellar career.

Gingras has made the most of his wins, as he is one of only six drivers in history to amass $200 million in earnings. The other five in that exclusive club all have at least 1,500 more victories than “The Green Hornet”.

GET LEGS REPEATS IN STYLE AT BIG M

After winning the Preferred a week ago at odds of 3-1 after driver Andy Miller was able to rate the second fraction in :29.4 after leaving from post 3, it seemed to be too tall an order to repeat that wire-to-wire performance from post nine at odds of 6-1 Saturday night at The Meadowlands in the weekly $31,500 trotting feature.

But Get Legs didn’t get the memo.

Miller made the top with the five-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Legzy in :27.1 and never looked back during a dominant 1:52.4 score to stay perfect in two 2022 starts.

“I wasn’t intent on going to the front,” said Miller. “I was just going to float out of there, but he got out of there on a good foot and I let him trot to the front.”

That proved to be a winning decision, as after the half was reached in :56, Get Legs had more than enough trot to repel a weak challenge from 6-5 favourite Chin Chin Hall as they reached three-quarters in 1:24.2.

Get Legs had no trouble from there keeping pocket-sitter Dunbar Hall at bay through the stretch to record a 1-3/4-length score. JL Cruze was third. Chin Chin Hall finished seventh on a night when he did not have it.

In winning for the 14th time from only 29 starts for trainer Julie Miller, Get Legs returned $15 as the fourth choice in the wagering exactly one week after paying $8.40 against the same kind of stock.

Andy has big expectations for his trotter. “I won’t race him all that much over the next few months. We are going to try and keep him strong for stakes season.”

BACKSTREET SETS PACE: In the $31,500 Preferred for pacers, Backstreet Shadow, who rallied well to get second a week ago in the same class, was put on the point by driver George Brennan and led at every call as the 2-1 favorite on the way to a safe neck victory over My Pal Joe in 1:50.2, a fantastic time given the cold conditions that had the reel feel at 2 degrees over a track that was listed with a variant of minus-2.

“Last week he was coming off a layoff,” said Brennan of ‘Backstreet’, whose explosive opening quarter of :26.4 was the key to victory. “We just wanted to run him up the inside. Tonight, the game plan was to go forward.”

The seven-year-old gelded son of Shadow Play-Backstreet Sweetie, a Ron Burke trainee, lifted his lifetime stats to 29 wins from 79 starts, good for a bankroll of $1,117,760. He returned $6.00 to win. Let It Ride N finished third in his bid to win a second-straight pacing feature after going off as the slight 2-1 second choice.

THARPS TAKES MLK: Sitting off a speed duel between Captain Hill and Casino Bags Anso, Sonic Flare and driver Eric Tharps Jr. closed well after swinging three-wide for the stretch drive to take the Martin Luther King Remembrance Race, completing a weekend where the civil rights icon – who would have turned 93 Saturday night – was honoured. The race featured African-American drivers.

Sonic Flare returned $6.20 to win as the favourite despite drawing post 10 in the second race.

“It means a lot to win this race,” said Tharps. “Anybody who races horses wants to win at The Meadowlands. I saw those two got into a duel, so I just sat there before making my move.”

One of Dr. King’s messages was to be inclusive of people of all races, and two races later, in the Pro-MLK Remembrance Race where Meadowlands regular reinsmen took on African-American drivers, pilot Mark MacDonald, representing the Big M regulars, scored from off the pace with 7-5 public choice Dirt E Rock.

Jamaal Denson, representing the African-American drivers, was excited to finish third with 17-1 chance Missile Seelster and is already looking forward to participating in the MLK in the future.

“It means a lot to come up here from Mississippi and race at The Meadowlands,” said Denson. “I had a great time. As long as they tell me I can come back, I will be back.”

A LITTLE MORE: Yonkers regular Jason Bartlett proved he can do it on the mile track as well, leading the driver colony with four winners. It was a big night for Burke, training four to victory lane. Gingras’ driving triple gave him 14 winners over the last four race cards.

All-source handle totaled $2,514,410.

Racing resumes Friday (Jan. 20) at 6:20 p.m. (EST).

(The Meadowlands)