Gingras Takes Racing To School

Published: March 9, 2011 08:54 am EST

Driver Yannick Gingras visited Wall Township (NJ) High School on Tuesday, March 8 to speak with two advanced French classes about harness racing -- in his

native French.

Gingras, a native of Sorel, Quebec, spoke with the classes, switching back and forth between English and French, about how he learned English, his move to the United States nearly ten years ago and his profession.

Gingras talked the class through videos of two of last year’s major victories for him, the Wellwood Memorial with Pastor Stephen and the Quillen Memorial with Foiled Again. He also passed around his helmet (a casque, in French, he said), colours, goggles and in the process, taught the class a new vocabulary word -- the French word for “mud,” which is bouette.

The classes, about 40 students total, were taught by Kathy Hoch Ricci, a Standardbred breeder and daughter of the late trainer Louis Hoch. Mrs. Ricci had prepared the class with harness racing-related vocabulary words and helped them construct questions to ask Gingras. The questions included those about the danger involved in driving, whether he speaks to horses in English or French, how he learned to drive a horse and whether his French suffered now that he speaks mostly English.

One light moment came when a student asked Gingras, “Vous etes epuise?” This elicited a puzzled look from Gingras, who after conferring with the student and Mrs. Ricci, determined the student had meant to ask, “Vous etes epouse?” “Yes,” Gingras responded in French with a smile. “I am both, epouse (married) and epuise (exhausted).”

The trip marked the second time Gingras has visited high schools to talk about harness racing en Francais. He also invited the students to visit his facebook page and promised to “friend” them right away. The visits were arranged by the USTA’s Harness Racing Communications division.

This photo and story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit



Great story indeed ! Keep up the good work Ms Ricci and Yannick.

André Audette

Way to go Yannick and Ms Ricci... all around we have doomsday merchants telling us harness racing is dead or dying. It's heartening to see people like Yannick and Ms Ricci still fighting the fight and damn well doing something about it. Great story.

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