Day At The Track

Joe Bongiorno says “I was misunderstood”

06:12 PM 16 Mar 2014 NZDT
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Joe Bongiorno, harness racing
Joe Bongiorno

Coral Springs, FL - In an exclusive interview early Sunday morning with’s Steve Wolf, harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno explained that he was “misunderstood” in his interview at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ Saturday night that prompted the judges to take him off two horses he was scheduled to drive.

‘What I said in the interview,” said Joe Bongiorno, “was that I was going to race those horses conservatively. I obviously regret using the word conservatively. Obviously my words were misconstrued. Probably should have used the words “raced off the helmet” and try to beat horses in the lane.

‘All people have to do is watch me drive races,” Bongiorno added, “I drive every horse to win. I’m very aggressive. I wasn’t going to be real aggressive at the start tonight but race them off the helmet. But I guess I did not explain myself well enough in the interview.”

“He was only taken off the two horses he talked about,” John Tomasello, presiding judge at the Meadowlands explained, “Those two horses he indicated would get “easy trips” and we understand about racing and how racing lays out. However we expect horses to be raced to win and we don’t want to hear that they are in a series next week. We are concerned about the races here tonight. That was the reason we made the driver changes tonight. We want to see every horse here tonight given the best chance to win.”

In the sixth race Saturday, Bongiorno was replaced on Shoobee’s Place, who was driven by Marcus Miller and finished fourth at odds of 4-1. Bongiorno was also replaced on Code Word, who was driven by Steve Smith in the eighth race and was never a factor, finishing eighth at odds of 6-1.

“I spoke to the judges,” Bongiorno said. “They said they had to take me off the two horses because of the interview. We really didn’t get into details. I had to let them do what they had to do and now move forward. We talked a little and I have to respect the decision they made. Obviously I used the wrong phrase of words. I am out there trying to win every race. Sometimes I may even be too aggressive at times and that has cost me races.

“Anyone who has come out and watched me race,” Bongiorno said, “knows that I am trying to win every race I am in.”

By Steve Wolf, for

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