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Gingras, Ford Off To Great Start At Big M

Published: January 13, 2022 1:34 pm ET

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Two horsemen stood out in front of the rest during the first weekend of racing at The Meadowlands in 2022 as driver Yannick Gingras recorded eight winners over the course of January 7-8 while trainer Mark Ford schooled four to victory lane.

Gingras, who will be inducted into harness racing’s U.S. Hall of Fame in July, was the bettors’ best friend, winning at a 32 per cent clip. His three seconds and five thirds gave him a total of 16 on-the-board finishes from 25 starts, meaning that the 42-year-old Quebec native “hit the ticket” 64 per cent of the time.

His Return On Investment (ROI) was plus 18 per cent.

Heading into Friday’s card, Gingras thought he might have some success. He was right, hitting victory lane five times.

“I had some power and they were ready to race,” said Gingras.

And what’s ahead for this season?

“I’m looking forward to staying healthy and having a good 2022,” said Gingras. “Atlanta is coming back. And Branded By Lindy. There’s many others I’m looking forward to driving. This Is The Plan. And Blue Diamond Eyes, who finished [2021] strong.”

Ford’s four scores came from just five starts, and his lone non-winner came in third, so his win (80) and in-the-money (100) percentages were both remarkable.

His ROI was off the charts at plus 426 per cent, as his winners returned $6.60, $17.20, $16.80 and $12.20 to win. Gingras drove all but one of Ford’s winner’s circle visitors.

“Every little bit helps. It’s not the first time that’s happened, you know,” joked Ford, with his tongue firmly in cheek.

On a more serious note, the President of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey for the last seven years is pleased with the current harness racing environment in the Garden State.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs over the last four or five years,” said Ford. “We have finally righted the ship and it seems like better times are ahead. Getting a piece of the sports wagering and the appropriation from the state have us going well now.

“[Meadowlands Chairman and Chief Executive Officer] Jeff Gural, some people like him, some don’t, but the proof is in the pudding. He has gone after the drug problem and bettors have a good feeling that they are getting a better shake when they go to The Meadowlands.”

Racing at The Big M is conducted on a Friday-Saturday basis and has a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. The track’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pre-game show kicks off nightly at 5:37 p.m.

There will be some special guests on the track’s “In the Sulky” pre-game show segment this weekend. Jim King Solomon, who played a key role in putting together this weekend’s Dr. Martin Luther King Remembrance events will be interviewed by Dave Little on Friday while Dave Brower will be joined by Northwood Bloodstock’s Bob Boni on Saturday. Brower and Boni will be talking about Monday’s Winter Mixed Sale at The Big M.

Here is a rundown of The Meadowlands' wagers, which feature a low takeout of 15 per cent, for the upcoming weekend:

· Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
· Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
· Race 6: 50-cent Early Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
· Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
· Race 10: 50-cent Late Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
· Race 15: 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5

On Saturday, Jan. 22, The Big M will host a World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifier where the prize money – based on 50 entrants – is $10,000. In addition, the top four finishers get a seat in the WHHC final, which takes place at the mile oval on Saturday, Sept. 10.

One of the more popular promotions at the track is the “Chili Cook-Off,” which takes place on Saturday, Jan. 29. Patrons can walk around and taste samples or come on out and participate for a chance to walk away with the $1,000 grand prize.

NFL fans can come to The Meadowlands on the day of the league’s championship game (Sunday, Feb. 13) and watch and wager on the biggest event of the year in American sports by viewing the game on huge-screen TVs that will be spread throughout the building and wagering on it in the FanDuel Sportsbook. There will also be several dining options so fans can have a place to watch the game and have some great eats at the same time.

For complete details, go to playmeadowlands.com.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)


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