Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jason Settlemoir Honors Top Driver Yannick Gingras with USHWA Presidents Award



Yannick Gingras, the “youthful veteran” driver from Quebec, who extends his talent and efforts on the track to worthwhile causes away from the racing, has been named as one of two President’s Award winners by Jason Settlemoir, president of the United States Harness Writers Association.

The 31-year-old Gingras is one of many French-Canadians from Quebec who have come to the States and risen to the top ranks of horsemanship.

USHWA’s Rising Star of the Year in 2003, he has won a driving title at Yonkers and now competes regularly, and with success, at The Meadowlands, against the toughest driving colony in the world.

Despite being “in the big time” for less than a decade, Gingras’s sulky charges have won over $60 million during his racetrack career, headed by the iron-tough mare Darlin’s Delight, who herself earned $2.9 million during her many seasons at the races.

But Settlemoir selected Gingras for honors because Yannick has contributed freely and generously with time and effort away from the racing wars.

Concentrating on charities for children such as “Toys For Tots,” he has shown an admirable philanthropic streak, often asking when competing at Tioga (Settlemoir’s base) to have his driver’s check donated to this charity or that.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Gingras has given to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, to sustain horses after their racing careers.

And he has taught French at local schools.

Gingras has also been cooperative with the marketing and publicity departments of racetracks, whether at the track itself or taking time from his regular schedule to shoot promotional tape for a venue 300 miles away.

He has shown himself to be articulate during panel discussions concerning the sport, and popular while signing autographs in a track’s winners circle.

Yannick Gingras will receive his President’s Award at USHWA’s annual “Night Of Stars” awards banquet, to be held February 27 at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale FL. Tickets, accommodations, and further information can be obtained from Steve Wolf at stevejw@bellsouth.net.

FINISHING LINE – As a service, we will solve one of the toughest questions in harness racing: how do you pronounce Yannick Gingras’s name? We went to the horse’s, er, horse’s driver’s mouth and called Yannick; we didn’t reach him on vacation, but his message made it loud and clear: YAH-neek ZHEN-grah.