Yannick Gingras knows a lot of eyes will be on Foiled Again as he attempts to win Saturday's $567,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series championship at Yonkers Raceway, but the driver is unfazed by any additional pressure that might bring.
"It's fun, Gingras said. "He's become one of the fans' favorites and a lot of people are watching him. People appreciate him more now. Every race, he breaks his own record by adding to his earnings and hopefully he can keep doing it and make it a record that will be very hard to break. We just want him to keep adding (wins) to his resume.
"As a driver, this is the kind of horse you want to drive. There's no pressure. I'm excited to race him.
The 10-year-old Foiled Again is the richest harness racing horse in North American history, with $6.13 million in career earnings. He has been named the Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer each of the last three years, equaling Rambling Willie's record for the most honors in the division. In 2011, he was Pacer of the Year.
Foiled Again, who has won 80 of 203 lifetime races, captured the Levy Series in 2009 and 2010. He was second by a neck to Razzle Dazzle last year and second by a head to stablemate Atochia in 2012. He finished third in 2011, beaten by a half-length.
This year, Foiled Again competed in all five of the Levy's preliminary rounds, winning the first four times and finishing sixth from post seven last week. The setback ended a six-race win streak dating to last season, which was part of a span of 13 starts in which he posted 10 victories and three second-place finishes.
"Last week it just didn't work out, Gingras said. "Everyone left inside of me and then (Special Forces) pulled first-up and didn't go anywhere. (But) Foiled is fine and ready to go.
Foiled Again, owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and JJK Stables, will start the final from post No. 3 as part of an entry with Bettor's Edge for trainer Ron Burke. Foiled Again drew post seven for the 2013 Levy final, post eight in 2012 and post six in 2011.
"Finally after a few years he drew good, Gingras said. "And he didn't draw inside of post three this whole series, and was outside (of post five) three times. He was due for a good draw.
"I'm really happy with him. He's in great form.
In his fourth-round win on April 12, Foiled Again paced in 1:51, which equaled his best mile ever at Yonkers. Foiled Again, who has won 30 of 44 lifetime starts at The Hilltop, also won in 1:51 during the preliminary round of the 2012 Levy. The Levy stakes record is 1:50.4, set by Silver Almahurst in 1993. The track record is 1:50.2, shared by Sapphire City, who also is a Levy finalist, and Fat Man's Alley.
"I definitely like my spot, Gingras said. "(Foiled Again) just has that refuse-to-lose mentality right now.
Finalists by wins in divisions of the series: Foiled Again (4), Mach It So (3), Bettor's Edge (3), Dancin Yankee (1), P H Supercam (1), Apprentice Hanover (1).
Saturday's card at Yonkers also features the $371,400 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship for older female pacers, where Yagonnakissmeornot will try to cap a strong performance in the event.
Yagonnakissmeornot finished the preliminary rounds with three consecutive wins and had four victories overall. She will start from post No. 2 for driver Daniel Dube and trainer Rene Allard.
"She's been doing everything right, Dube said. "With an inside post, it should be good. But she can race anyway you want; she doesn't need a trip. She can do it the hard way.
Last week, Yagonnakissmeornot started from post seven, used a first-over move at the halfway point and wore down leader Scandalous Hanover by the final turn en route to a one length victory in 1:53.2.
"I had to ask her a little on the backside, but at the wire she could have still done another lap, Dube said. "She can make the other (horses) tired. She can grind and keep going. She can kind of be on the lazy side, but if you ask for a little more, she gives you more.
The Matchmaker field also includes defending series champ Feeling You and 2012 winner Rocklamation. Somwherovrarainbow, who was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old filly pacer in 2012, starts from the rail.
Rocklamation, who drew post three for the final, finished second by a head to Feeling You in her most recent start on April 11.
"She's been really good, driver Gingras said about Rocklamation. "She can't do the dirty work, so post three should be a good spot. We've got the two best horses inside of us and we can see who is going to cut the mile and maybe get a good trip. She had a week off and she's usually very good when she's fresh.
Finalists by wins in divisions of the series: Yagonnakissmeornot (4), Somwherovrarainbow (2), Summertime Lea (2), Angels Delight (2), Anndrovette (1), Rocklamation (1), Feeling You (1). (HRC)