Local driver becomes only second female to reach 1000 harness racing victories

   Forget about New Year’s Eve, Jacqueline Ingrassia had another reason to celebrate on Dec. 31.
   Ingrassia on December 31 became just the second woman in harness racing history to reach the 1,000-win mark when she guided four-year-old trotter Southwind Pepper to victory in the third race at Freehold Raceway. Owned by Arden Homestead Stable and trained by Frank Ingrassia, Southwind Pepper was sent off at odds of 39-1 and paid $81.40 to win.
   Starting from post eight, Ingrassia hustled Southwind Pepper from the gate and worked a perfect pocket trip en route to the victory in 2:02.3. After the race, Ingrassia was honored in the winner’s circle and a large sign congratulating her on the milestone triumph was presented to her.
   "It’s got dust on it," Ingrassia said with a laugh, referring to her month-long pursuit of win No. 1,000. Her previous victory came Nov. 28, also at Freehold, with The Temptress – a span of nine starts.
   Ingrassia, a native of England who now lives near Allentown, N.J., is the only female driver to win a Triple Crown race, having won the 2000 Yonkers Trot with Goalfish. Horses driven by Ingrassia, many trained by her husband, Frank, have won $3.95 million in her career.
   Bea Farber, who retired in 1995, leads all female drivers with 1,801 and $9.1 million in purses.
   "It’s not something I set out to do," Ingrassia said. "Bea Farber was very unique and a great driver. She deserved everything she got. I’ll never break her record. But I’m not out to break records, we just want to pay the bills."
   Over the years, Ingrassia has always preferred to be recognized as a good horseperson rather than simply a successful woman driver.
   "I’ve just always tried to do what I want to do, what I’m capable of doing," Ingrassia said. "I’m not out there to prove a point; I’m not out there to trail-blaze. If what I do happens to help others, that’s great. But that’s not the intent of it."
   In addition to her driving, Ingrassia has been a member and officer of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey and is a member of the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors. In 1999, she was inducted into the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame.