Ingrassias enjoying Dandy time
Jacquie and Frank Ingrassia have been together in harness racing for more than 50 years, and the dynamic duo has no desire to slow down any time soon. Jacquie, 75, and Frank, 89, have a stable of six horses based in central New Jersey, with their top horse this season, Dandy, the leader in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes standings for 3-year-old male trotters.
“We’re living the life we want to live,” said Jacquie, who handles the driving for the couple’s stable. “We just love it. And we love the animals. We absolutely love the animals. It just means everything to us, it really does. We intend to do it for as long as we physically can. For our ages, we’re unbelievably healthy. We’re in a good spot right now.”
Jacquie has won seven of 31 drives this year and hit the board an additional 10 times. For her career, she has won 1,176 races, which is third most in North American history for a female driver. Her biggest victory came behind Goalfish in the 2000 Yonkers Trot, making her the first female driver to capture a Triple Crown event.
In 1999, Jacquie was inducted into the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame. In 2019, she received the Governor’s Award for Horseperson of the Year from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
“I enjoy it,” Jacquie said about driving. “If I felt I was not capable, or dangerous, I certainly wouldn’t do it. If that time comes, I’ll just quit. It will come, no doubt. I might be 80 or so, we’ll see. If I thought I wasn’t doing justice, then I wouldn’t be out there. It’s not an ego thing. I just enjoy doing it. I don’t stress about it. If I win, I win. If I don’t, we’ve only got ourselves to blame; or me to blame.”
Frank has won 453 races as a trainer. He was sidelined — but only briefly — earlier this year after getting a new knee. He was back in a jog cart in two weeks.
“The worst thing you can do is nothing,” Frank said. “That’s the worst you can do. You’ve got to keep moving.”
He joked that he had additional motivation to keep moving.
“I’m scared of her, so I’ve got to do it,” Frank said, motioning toward Jacquie.
“Yeah, you better get out there,” Jacquie replied in mock sternness.
“There’s no retirement, she’s got me penciled in for a couple more years,” Frank continued.
“I always tell him that,” Jacquie said. “More than a couple more, Frank.”
Jacquie and Frank met in 1971 at Yonkers Raceway. Jacquie, who was born in England, came to the U.S. to work for Tony Abbatiello. He sent her to Yonkers with several inexperienced horses to train, and ended up in the same barn as Flushing, N.Y.-born Frank.
“That’s all she wrote,” Jacquie said. The couple was married in 1975.
“You know what we always say? We weren’t made for each other, we deserve each other,” Jacquie said with a laugh. “It’s worked. We’ve had some ups and downs. When we first started out, we had absolutely nothing, but it’s worked for us.