It's been a fabulous run, but Canadian harness driver Yannick Gingras is looking forward to finally returning home.
Gingras, of Sorel, Que., has been racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park since late August, his horses having won 27 times and earned over $2 million heading into the inaugural US$1-million Mohawk Million on Saturday night.
But even with that success, Gingras says it's time he get back to his wife, Vicki, and their three children — two girls aged eight and 12 and a 15-year-old son — in New Jersey.
"It (being away from family) wasn't easy, I won't lie," Gingras said Thursday during a telephone interview. "It's tough for my wife, with three kids it's a lot of work for her.
"She's got her hands full and I think it's time for me to go home and give her some help. The time here was good, I hung out with friends and no complaints about the racing . . . but I'm good to go home now."
Predictably, the mounting victories have helped ease Gingras' home sickness.
"It always does, that's for sure," he said. "If I wasn't doing well I probably would've been gone by now . . . I wouldn't have lasted this long."
Some of Gingras' wins have been big ones.
He captured the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup for the first time Aug. 29 driving favourite Tall Dark Stranger to victory. He guided talented mare Atlanta to a four-length decision in the $560,000 Maple Leaf Trot on Sept. 5.
Last weekend, Gingras swept both elimination races for the $455,000 Shes A Great Lady, driving Scarlett Hanover and Caviart Audrey to separate victories.
On Saturday, Gingras will drive Caviart Audrey in the Shes A Great Lady final. And later that night, he'll lead another filly, Insta Glam, in the Mohawk Million.
Gingras said deciding between Scarlett Hanover and Caviart Audrey wasn't easy.
"She (Caviart Audrey) was one of the horses that I came to Canada for," Gingras said. "I've raced her from the beginning and she's a filly I really like.
"It was close between those two fillies but I just think on her best day Caviart Audrey can be just a little bit better."
Gingras will take Insta Glam from the No. 9 hole in the Mohawk Million. The daughter of Father Patrick — one of three fillies in the race — is four-of-seven and earlier this year set a track record of 1:54 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
The horse is trained by Nancy Takter, who's also the conditioner for Tall Dark Stranger.
"She (Takter) said Intsa Glam trained really well this week," Gingras said. "She's a really nice filly so I'm not concerned about that part.
"I think if she's 100 per cent on her game, she can go with the best in there. But she needs to bring her 'A' game obviously with post 9 on top of it."
Filly Donna Soprano is expected to be the Mohawk Million favourite. She's a perfect five-of-five on the track and will be driven by Bob McClure, a resident of Rockwood, Ont., and Woodbine's leading driver.
The Mohawk Million will feature a field of 10 two-year-old trotters in Canada's richest harness event. Nine of the slots were purchased at a cost of US$110,000 each with the other awarded to On A Streak for winning the William Wellwood Memorial.
Gingras would definitely like to end his Woodbine Mohawk Park tenure on a winning note. But he readily admits he's been happy with his results thus far.
"I knew coming in I'd have good horses to drive, that's why I came to begin with," he said. "The racing has been going very well, the horses have been running well.
"I'm very happy with the way things have worked out, for sure."
But it's not as if Gingras' season will end with Saturday's races.
"I'll be home for four days and then I'll go to Lexington, Ky., to race two weekends in a row," he said. "It's right back at it and right back into the thick of things."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press