Saturday, December 9, 2023

It’s not very often a Hall of Fame driver says he messed up, but that was the case in the Friday night $17,500 high-end conditioned pacing feature at The Meadowlands, where Yannick Gingras guided Flirtin JK to a nerve-racking victory for those who bet the duo down to 1-9.

“I screwed up,” said Gingras, who sits in the top spot in the driver standings at The Big M. “It wasn’t a very good drive and we still won, so I’ll take it.”

Gingras was being a tad hard on himself, given the way things panned out.

It looked like just another day at the office for a heavy Gingras-trainer Ron Burke favorite, as Flirtin JK was away alertly from post six in the seven-horse field and led at the quarter in an anything-but-blazing :27.4.

Johnathan Ahle then opted to vacate the pocket and take the lead with 13-1 third choice Barrier, so Flirtin JK raced in the pocket. But as Barrier backed down the half to :57, Erinwood Yves got anxious in the three-hole and rolled to the top at the five-eighths and led at three-quarters in 1:24.

Sitting a three-hole at the top of the stretch at a nickel-on-the-dollar is no way to make friends, but Gingras found a way to stay in the chalk players’ good graces.

“Once we got to the top of the stretch, in a short field, you’re probably not going to get locked in,” said Gingras, who found more than ample real estate along the inside with less than an eighth-of-a-mile to go to sprint clear of his foes by 2 lengths at the finish in 1:50.3. Barrier finished second with Southwind Sambucca third.

“Once we got room,” said Gingras. “He paced right through there.”

“I liked him the first time I raced him,” said the pilot known as “The Green Hornet”. “He’s got some sore feet but he’s been racing really well and we got lucky tonight.”

Flirtin JK, a 3-year-old gelded son of Jk Endofanera-Mcflirty, returned $2.10 to win while scoring for the fifth time from 32 career starts. He lifted his lifetime earnings to just over $117,000 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Gingras.

 A LITTLE MORE: Gingras led the driver colony with three winners, running his 2023-Big M leading total to 119. … Burke trained three to victory lane, and tops the trainers with 106 victories. … For a fourth straight time, the 20-cent Pick-8 failed to yield a winning ticket, creating a carryover of $22,581 when racing resumes. Those with seven correct collected $158.04. The Pick-8 begins in race four Saturday night. … Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to … All-source handle on the 14-race program totaled $2,877,367. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Flirtin JK and driver Yannick Gingras take the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)