What a difference a week makes. Two Sundays ago 12-year-old Joey Chindano of Bullville, NY became the youngest driver in harness racing history to win a matinee amateur event at New York's Goshen Historic Track.
Then last Sunday (June 17) the track’s presiding judge Jerry Fielding said Joey was not permitted to drive his filly Del Sol Blue Chip in a three horse event.
Joey was devastated, so much so his training father Joseph has got rid of his horses and both no longer want anything more to do with harness racing.
“He was on a high all week after driving his first winner, and now Joey has had his hopes and feelings trampled on. The wind has really been taken out of his sails. It was the start of the school holidays and Joey didn’t even want to go down to the barn on Monday. That’s not like him – he lived for the sport.
“I asked him what he wanted me to do and he said get rid of the horses – so I did that. He said he had enough and didn't want to be bullied again. I’ve had enough too.The sport is being administered by people with egos and they should be enticing the young into the sport - not driving them away. I’m in the construction business and harness racing was only a hobby. We will try something new now,” Chindano Sr. told Harnesslink.
He said he had purchased some colts especially for him to train and his son to race but for some reason the presiding judge wouldn’t let him drive his 2-year-oldfilly.
“I don’t get the reasoning at all. There were only three horses in the race – one more than what we usually work at home. We have been hard at it as father-and-son for four years now and we both loved the game.
“Anyway nothing can be done now, we cleaned out the barn yesterday (Monday),” said Chindano who has driven 69 winners and trained further eight more.
Chindano said it was a sad way to end something his son absolutely loved.
“He was a huge fan of Larry Stalbaum and no doubt he’ll have the odd look at what’s going on, but for now he’s very sad and has said no more. I can't see him ever going back.
“He’s good at school so I’ve told him to refocus his energies there so he can look after Dad when he gets old,” Chindano joked.
But the feelings are a far cry from this time last week when young Joey had one of the United State’s top harness racing journalists - John MANZI - write the following story about him:
There may not be anything special about driving a winner in an amateur race. But when the driver is just 12 years old ….that’s special.
On Sunday, June 10th at the Historic Track matinee races, 12 year old Joey Chindano of Bullville, NY made his first drive a winning one when the youngster guided veteran pacer Kevin’s Apples to a 2:05.2 victory which brought the crowd to a standing ovation.
The driving victory even brought announcer Howard Oil out of the Judges Stand-where he calls the races from - to say a few words on the 12-year-old’s victory.
“Oh my God, did you see that. A 12 year old just drove the winner here at Historic Track. This may be a harness racing first,” an excited Oil shouted over the PA system as the crowd cheered for young Joe Chindano.
“He drove a great race and look, he can hardly reach the foot- rests on the sulky.”
Young Joe was joined in the winner’s circle by his proud father, Joe, Sr. When Chindano the elder was asked if he was nervous with his son out there against drivers three and four times his age he quickly replied:
“Not at all. I wasn’t a bit nervous. We have been training our three colts together and Joey handles the colts very well. I know he’s young but he’s been around horses his entire life. He loves them. Why he thinks he’s George Brennan, for gosh sakes!”
“When young Joe was asked who his favorite trainer is, he blurted out in the blink of the eye,” My dad of course.” And your favorite driver? , “That’s easy too,” the young man said,” It’s the Bomber”, Larry Stalbaum, “He drives my dad’s stock and he wins a lot of races too.”
Young Joey Chindano is a seventh grade student at Harmony Christian in Montgomery. And after his thrilling driving victory on Sunday afternoon in Goshen on Monday morning he was back in school.
“He’s cramming for his finals now,” poppa Joe said. “But I know his mind is wandering from time to time thinking about his driving victory.”
“He’s a good kid and a good student,” family friend and fellow horse trainer, Brian Yusko added.
“He loves working with the horses and he’s good at it too.”
Footnote: Harnesslink has contacted the Goshen Historic track for its side of the story and we are awaiting that.
We (Harnesslink) also hope the Chindanos reconsider their decision to leave harness racing – simply because the sport needs young people with enthusiasm and talent. We believe the industry also needs as many keen horsemen as it can get - and one man’s decision shouldn’t make a career changing difference.
By Duane RANGER (editor) and John MANZI
12 year old Joe Chindano wins at Goshenon June 10, 2012: