When Yannick Gingras makes an appearance at Vernon Downs, he has a strong tendency to be mightily successful on the racetrack. Such was the case on Sunday (July 26) afternoon, when he swept the filly and colt divisions of the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Stakes.
In the $185,000 Zweig for three-year-old trotting fillies, Gingras settled Mission Brief ($2.60, part of entry) into the third spot out of her mid-pack post, tracking Wild Honey (John Campbell) and Magic Marker (Brian Sears) through a :27 initial quarter before brushing to the fore at race's midpoint. Just as Wild Honey slackened through a :56.1 half-mile, Mission Brief charged past, opening up her lead to two lengths on the far turn. The daughter of Muscle Hill and Southwind Serena would hold that margin through a :55.3 final half, defeating Wild Honey in 1:51.4. Magic Marker stayed on to be third, while Gatka Hanover (Brett Miller) rallied mildly off cover to take fourth.
Ron Burke trains Mission Brief for the Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, the J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi. Now a 12-time winner, Mission Brief has amassed $794,887 in career earnings.
A mere hour after Mission Brief asserted herself in the $185,000 Zweig division for three-year-old trotting fillies, Pinkman ($2.10, part of entry) found room up the inside to strike late from a pocket trip in the $370,000 Zweig event for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.
Beginning from post seven as part of a four-horse Jimmy Takter-trained entry, Pinkman left strongly, stringing out Habitat (Brian Sears) in the early going before yielding to stablemate Canepa Hanover (Takter) after a :27.3 initial quarter. The gelded son of Explosive Matter and Margie Seelster drafted comfortably behind his stablemate through a :56.1 middle half, but was boxed at the apex of the far turn when Habitat attempted a first-over bid. With racing room at a premium in upper stretch, Pinkman found room up the inside, passing Canepa Hanover in the final sixteenth. He prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:52, a stakes record. Canepa Hanover held second, while Workout Wonder (Daniel Dubé) rallied late to take third past Wings of Royalty (Tim Tetrick).
Also taking career win number 12, Pinkman stretched his career bankroll to $1,216,800 for Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman.
Driver John Campbell and Muscle Diamond won the $75,000 Zweig Consolation in 1:53.2 for trainer Brett Bittle, who co-owns the Muscle Hill-Windylane Hanover colt with Charles Keller III, Charles E. Iv Keller and E. Daniel Bittle.
Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (July 31) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.
(With files from Vernon Downs)