Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pinkman Captures Hambo

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pinkman Captures Hambo

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Yannick Gingras knew there was no going back. Faced with the chance to pick who he wanted to drive in the Hambletonian final, he had to live with his decision.

That's why years from now harness racing fans will remember this race as much or more for the driver's decision than Pinkman's victory.

After driving Pinkman and Mission Brief to victories in the Hambo heats Saturday, Gingras, who's yet to win a Hambo, opted to be in the filly's bike for the $1 million final. The move backfired when Brian Sears stepped in and led Pinkman to a three-quarters of a length win over Mission Brief.

The conversation Gingras had with Jimmy Takter, who trains Pinkman, in between the heats and the final sounded like it was

out of a reality show.

"I understand the situation Yannick was in, but I tried to tell him he was making a mistake. But he didn't listen," Takter said. "I was right."

Like he usually is. Pinkman is the fourth Hambo champion he's trained and Takter, for the second consecutive year, had the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks winners. The first, third and fourth finishers in the Hambo were his trainees.

Takter has so much control over his horses that Dick McClelland, part of Pinkman's ownership group, said he didn't know Sears was driving until he saw his name on The Meadowlands' infield screen.

McClelland said Takter, mindful Gingras might have to pick between the two best horses in the field, mentioned a couple of drivers two or three weeks ago, but nothing was decided.

After Gingras chose his option, Takter quickly reached out to Sears, who qualified Habitat for the final for Ron Burke (who also trains Mission Brief).

"We got one of the best drivers when the money is on the line," said John Fielding, one of Pinkman's owners.

Sears won his third Hambletonian with a skillful drive. He moved Pinkman into the lead just before the half-mile pole and had enough left to hold off a late charge by Mission Brief. The second choice at 9-5 to Mission Brief's 3-5 among the 21,968 fans, Pinkman paid $5.60 to win.

Pinkman's time of 1:51 was a career-best, just two ticks better than the 1:51.2 he posted in winning his heat by a half-length over stablemate The Bike, who finished fourth in the final, from the far outside No. …

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