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YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 14, 2020--I'mprincessgemma A (Joe Bongiorno, $6.20) was both widest and fastest Friday night (Feb. 14th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Sandy Win (Eric Goodell) fronted the fray, doing so through early intervals of :27.1 and :56.3. Robyn Camden (Jim Marohn Jr.), who had left into a three-hole as the 19-10 favorite, made a second move to go after the leader. Western New York standout HP Sissy (Dan Dube) tried to match strides with 'Robyn," but gapped. It was Sandy Win maintaining her advantage in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters, Meanwhile, I'mprincessgemma A, away last from outside her five (after a scratch) rivals, was saving ground by the pylons and slipping out down the backside right behind Betterb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton). Shady Win owned a length lead off the final turn, but was about to get swallowed up. 'Gemma,' fifth entering the lane, launched past everyone. She widened to win by 2¾ lengths in 1:53.4. Shady Win did hold off the rest to and save second, with Robyn Camden and Betterb Chevron N inseparable for third. Wishy Washy Girl (Brent Holland) picked off the final pay envelope, while 'Sissy' backpedaled to last among the half-dozen in a rare poor effort.   For season-debuting third choice I'mprincessgemma A, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Village Jolt co-owned by her chauffeur, trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, Steve Manzi and Wish Me Luck Stables, she entered off an eight-win, $100,000 season in 2019. The exacta paid $19.80, the triples returned $34.20 (Betterb Chevron N third) and $23.40 (Robyn Camden third) and the superfectas paid $60 (Betterb Chevron N third) and $49.60 (Robyn Camden third). A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Feb. 15th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,899.15 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee has been approved by the New York State Gaming Commission and is conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 5 through 9 Saturday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Freehold, NJ --- Statesman was bet down to favoritism in the Preferred Handicap harness razcing pace at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (February 1), and lived up to his 8/5 billing, winning by a length.   Driver Joe Bongiorno took him back in the early stages, sitting in fourth place most of the way. As they neared the five-eighths point, Bongiorno activated his charge, sending him first-over after early leader Machtu. Statesman grabbed firm control as they turned for home, and despite a late rally from Vapour, Statesman had enough for the victory. The time was an impressive 1:53.2 over a fast Freehold track.     Statesman is co-owned by Joe and Jenn Bongiorno; Jenn handles the training. This was the first start of the year for the 13-year-old veteran, and his 50th career triumph. In 261 races, he's won 50 times, while bankrolling more than $890,000.   Statesman's win was one of three for Bongiorno on the Saturday card. He also won race 9 with J M Mandarin and race 10 with Hardts or Bettor. The former gave Jenn a training double; Mike Russo trained the latter.   Rancousy, Exit Cam, Fox Valley Inferno, Machtu, and Declan Seelster completed the order of finish.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Thursday, starting at 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway  

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing pacer Hot Deuce lived up to his 3/5 billing on Saturday at Freehold Raceway, taking the Preferred Handicap by 4 1/2 lengths.   Driver Joe Bongiorno blasted off with his drive, sending him hard from post five and putting him on the lead. He went through a quarter in 27.3 and a half in 56.3, not encountering any serious competition.   Heading up the backstretch the final time, Shellie de Vie and Sunfire Blue Chip made moves on the outside, but Hot Deuce scooted away from the competition at the three-quarter pole and drew off. He coasted under the wire in 1:54.3 over a sloppy track with a two-second variant.   This is Hot Deuce's eighth win of the year, five of which have come at Freehold. He's owned by Robert Weinstein and trained by Jenn Bongiorno.   Bullet Bob saved ground and held second at 8/1. Sunfire Blue Chip, Spirit of Truth, Shellie de Vie, and Tisadream completed the order of finish.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, starting at about 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway  

CHESTER, PA - Driver Tony Morgan and trainer Jennifer Bongiorno combined on their third win of the program as the Bettor's Delight mare Divas Image closed stoutly midtrack to take the $18,000 feature for pacing mares in 1:52.2 during a special Friday night card at Harrah's Philadelphia. Morgan kept the winner, who pushed her career earnings to $604,627, next-to-last in the field of seven early as several horses traded the front spot in the field, then moved with cover down the backstretch. The 2-5 favorite was looking good as she tipped wide the stretch battle, and the mare showed her class by coming home powerfully to hold off the horse on her back and the longest shot in the field, 42-1 Slick Artist A, by 1½ lengths for the partnership of Joseph Bongiorno LLC, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro, and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Morgan went on to win the last race on the card to end the night as leading driver with his four victories. There were also a pair of $16,000 co-featured events for class-climbing younger horses. In the pacing mares division, Delightful Feather finally surrendered the lead to favored Money Shot Hanover in front of the stands, and then the pair saw Odds On Clearwater make a fast brush on the backstretch to the front. The early rivals came after the stretch leader - Money Shot Hanover to her inside, Delightful Feather to her right - and it was the Bettor's Delight mare Delightful Feather get the decision in 1:53.2, with Money Shot Hanover ¾ of a length behind the winner and 2½ lengths ahead of Odds On Clearwater. George Napolitano Jr. guided the winner for the brother team of trainer Thomas and owner John Cancelliere. In the trot, Oberto moved up uncovered on the far turn to the lead, then had to brace for what looked to be a tough stretch challenge from Gaareat Gazoo on his back. But that foe had some late steering problems, and the Yankee Glide sophomore gelding Oberto fended him off by a neck in 1:57.1 for driver Pat Berry, trainer Jeff Weiner, and owners Thomas and Pamela Herbst Maloney. (Ms. Maloney's middle name, which translates from German to "fall," was appropriate for this evening card, which saw the temperatures fall into the 50s as autumn starts to take a grip on the local weather.) For full results and entries click here. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia  

CHESTER PA - New Zealand native Dexter Dunn, who has ascended to third in the Harrah's Philadelphia driving standings behind perennial leaders Tim Tetrick and George Napolitano Jr., took five victories during the Thursday afternoon harness racing card at the riverside oval, including wins in the feature and one co-feature - neither of them predictable. In the $18,000 headlining trot, Dunn rallied the Cantab Hall gelding Newcastle to a 9-1 upset, swinging wide off of cover to the lead and then resisting the inside charge of Kinda Lucky Lindy in 1:55.1. The half-length victory brought Newcastle's lifetime summary to 25 victories and $364,338 in earnings. Jennifer Bongiorno conditions the winner for Andiamo Racing Stable. One of the $14,500 trotting co-features went to Dunn and the RC Royalty gelding Coastal Region, who took a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2 while catching bettors unaware at 14-1. Whereas last week Coastal Region was shuffled back and had to come from far off the pace, this week the winner could move outside from third-in at the three-quarters for his late kick, catching pacesetting Sheez On A Cruise by 1¼ lengths for trainer Arlene Cameron, now 3-for-4 with her recent acquisition, and owner Jaypaul Hoover. Coastal Region broke the six-figure lifetime bankroll plateau with the win, with earnings of $101,879. In the other $14,500 trotting contest, the Donato Hanover gelding Don Dream and driver David Miller cleared to the lead on a first-over bid towards the three-quarter pole, then drew off by 3¾ lengths over Armageddon Seelster while lowering his speed mark to 1:54. Joe Holloway, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month, trains the winner of $179,882 for Crawford Farms Racing.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia Jerry Connors

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Jenn Bongiorno barn has been on a roll all meeting long at the Meadowlands, and on Saturday night, 'J-Bo' standout Albergo Hanover won his third straight at the Big M and fourth in a row overall by taking the $30,000 featured harness racing Preferred pace for 4-year-olds in a lifetime-best 1:49. "I'm not surprised at how good he's been," said Bongiorno, who entered the weekend second in the Big M trainer dash-win standings (with 29) and tops in win percentage (31). "But I am more impressed with him each and every week. He won a Pennsylvania Sire Stake for us last year, so we always knew there was talent there." The son of Well Said-Allamerican Celeb, who continued his hot streak despite bumping up from non-winners of six to the Preferred ranks, had that talent on display Saturday, coming first over after leader Hayden Hanover, who had reached the half in :54.4, down the backside. Joe Bongiorno, Jenn's brother and driver, kept his horse alive racing first over while inching closer to the leader and under serious late urging surged past Hayden Hanover at the conclusion of a heated stretch duel to win by a determined head. Hudson Phil was third. "Being first up into Hayden - whom I consider a stakes horse - was a little nerve-racking for me," said Jenn. "But the truth is, this horse is so talented and has such a big heart, I knew he wouldn't embarrass himself." Albergo Hanover, who paid $9.60 as the second choice in the wagering, stayed perfect in four starts this year and has now won 11-of-31 lifetime, good for earnings of $143,409 for owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. So Jenn, is Albergo Hanover as good as your None Bettor A, who has won four straight at the Big M in sub-1:50, the most recent in 1:48.4? "I don't know," said Jenn. "None Bettor is 6 and Albergo is 4. They both are really nice and, truthfully, I am just so grateful to have these amazing animals under my care." A LITTLE MORE: All-source wagering came oh-so-close to the magic $3-million mark, as a total of $2,967,772 was bet on the 13 races. ... The always popular 50-Cent Pick-4 took huge action, as a total of $120,505 was poured into the pot, good for the second biggest Pick-4 pool of the year, surpassed only by the $134,614 bet on March 2. ... Yonkers standout Jason Bartlett drove three winners on the card while George Brennan, Victor Kirby and Joe Bongiorno all had two apiece. ... The 50-Cent Pick-5 saw a sequence where winner's odds were 15-1, 11-1, 58-1, 6-1 and 1-5, and when the dust cleared, one shrewd player betting into the Western NY OTB hub walked away with $32,091.10. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - All Salute! Saturday night at the Meadowlands belonged to Corey Callahan - aka 'The Captain' - as he drove four winners on the 13-race card. Callahan's big night began in Race 5 with his most impressive performer, as None Bettor A - from the hot Jennifer Bongiorno barn - scored in a high-class conditioned pace in a sizzling 1:48.4. None Bettor A has now won four straight and returned $3.00 to his backers. Another 1-2 chance would follow in the next race as Stonedust scored in a low-range conditioned pace in 1:51.1 before Callahan guided 1-5 shot McThriller to a dominant score in a mid-range conditioned pace in 1:49.4 in Race 9. 'The Captain' completed his all-chalk four-bagger in the 13th and final race of the night with Colonial Road in a race for pacers with a Trackmaster rating of 76.8 or less in 1:56.4 at odds of 5-2. Callahan now has 42 winners at the current Big M meeting, good for fourth in the standings. 'THINKBIG' ROLLS: The classy Thinkbig Dreambig - who earned over $500,000 last year as a 3-year-old - went a third-over trip in a six-horse field and blew by his foes blazing a final quarter in :25.2 to take the featured Preferred for 4-year-old pacers. The son of Bettor's Delight-Extreme Dream, who was driven by Scott Zeron and is trained by Nancy Johansson, stopped the clock in 1:50.2 and returned $3.40 to his fans as the odds-on choice in the wagering. On Duty was a half-length back in second with Rock Lights third. A LITTLE MORE: Bongiorno's Albergo Hanover won Race 12 to give the trainer a double on the card. ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 pool reached six figures for a third straight time as a total of $104,786 was pushed through the windows. ... Chalk players had a good time as six winning post-time choices hit the winner's circle. ... All-source handle totaled $2,365,844. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Rollwithpapajoe rebounded in a big way from a sub-par seasonal debut a week ago to win a division of the Wiggle It Jiggleit Series for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace at the Meadowlands Friday night. The Jenn Bongiorno trainee, a tough-trip fifth-place finisher on April 5, came back with a strong mile as Dave Miller moved the son of Roll With Joe-Crazy On You off the rail from fifth at the three-eighths and made steady progress past the half and onto the far turn, trailing leader - and 6-5 favorite - Actor Hanover by just a head at three-quarters. Through the stretch, Rollwithpapajoe drew clear over a sloppy track as heavy rains fell. Rollwithpapajoe, who paid $6.80 as the second choice in the wagering, hit the wire 1¾ lengths in front of Prince Of Tides in 1:51.3. Sugartown was third. "That's the performance from Papajoe that I was waiting for him to show everyone," said Bongiorno. "This horse has serious speed and ability. Last week, the problem was they walked to the half. Tonight, he showed that he loves his job and wants to win." The first of three Wiggle It Jiggleit divisions went to 6-1 chance Rockme Rollme ($14.00) for driver Marcus Miller and trainer Nik Drennan. Miller dove to the inside in deep stretch to nip even-money favorite Dealer's Table at the wire by the smallest of noses in 1:50.4 as Dealer's Table saw his four-race win streak come to an end. Stone Hanover was third. The third and final Wiggle It Jiggleit division went to JK Captain Jack for driver Josert Fonseca and trainer Nancy Johansson. The winner went first over for a little more than the final half-mile to score by a half-length over Bring The Thunder. Goldberg, the 3-5 favorite, settled for third. JK Captain Jack paid $13.20 as the second choice in the wagering after completing the mile in 1:52. The third and final leg of the Wiggle It Jiggleit takes place April 19. The April 26 final will offer a purse of $58,500. A LITTLE MORE: The fourth edition of the Can-Am Pick-4 saw a total pool of $55,610, and after a sequence saw winner's odds of 5-2, 5-2, 4-1 and 5-2, the return for the wager with the 20-Cent base bet was $158.76. ... The Meadowlands' 50-Cent Pick-4 took in $95,127 in wagers and those who had horses that went off at 2-1, 4-5, 5-2 and 5-2 walked away with $107.50. ... Yannick Gingras drove three winners to up his meet-leading total to 78. ... The fifth race 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, upping the carryover to $78,108. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,400,551. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Historically, the Meadowlands is a track where a horse can win from well off the pace, but Alotbettor N took that to an extreme in taking the featured high-range conditioned pace at the Big M harness racing on Saturday night. Bushwacker, the 9-2 third choice in the wagering, was on the point from the start to the head of the stretch, but nearing three-quarters there was a live flow coming after the leader, with the train being led by 2-1 favorite, Dover Downs shipper Penzance Hanover. Driver Vinny Ginsburg had Alotbettor N in the flow but had much to do since he was seventh in the eight-horse field with a quarter-mile to go racing fourth over. The duo proved up to the task. Ginsburg steered Alotbettor N to the outside for the stretch drive and the pair fired home in :27 to record a half-length win over McThriller. Stonedust finished third. "Alotbettor is such an honest horse," said winning trainer Jenn Bongiorno. "And he absolutely loves it when we bring him back to the Big M. I wasn't surprised at all how he won the race because I know he loves to come from off the pace and never gives up." Alotbettor N returned $16.60 to win as the fifth choice in the wagering after completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:49.3. For his career, the 8-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight-Falcons Flybye has won 25-of-88 starts and banked $259,415 for owners Joe Bongiorno, Howard Taylor and Thomas Lazzaro. On the driving side of things, Yannick Gingras had what for him is a typical night at the salt mine, visiting the winner's circle four times on the 13-race program. Gingras scored with McClinchie N ($3.80 to win as the favorite) in 1:51.3 in the first race conditioned pace, Blacklight ($3.80 as the favorite) in 1:52.2 in the fourth race for pacers who were non-winners of two, Spaghetti Eddie ($9.20 as the third choice) in 1:51.3 in the 11th race conditioned pace before capping his night off with U F Rockin Dragon ($4.40 as the favorite) in 1:52.1 in the 12th race conditioned pace. A LITTLE MORE: One lucky simulcast player betting into the Catskills hub was the holder of the only ticket that lasted six legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and was rewarded with a payout of $14,376. ... Ginsburg, Andy Miller and Dexter Dunn all had driving doubles while Nick Surick trained a pair of winners. ... The 50-Cent Pick-4 pool saw $108,946 in bets. Those who had 28-1 shot Mach N Cheese in the first leg and then went on to cash collected a hefty $3,874. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,782,432. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

WILKES-BARRE PA - Three $15,000 divisions of the first preliminary of the Bobby Weiss Series for pacing males highlighted the harness racing card on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Jim Morrill Jr. guiding two of the winners to 1:52.3 victories. First on the track was the Sweet Lou sophomore gelding Division Bell, who broke his maiden for trainer Ron Burke and Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Morrill sent Division Bell to the lead in front of the stands, then kept the youngster rolling home in 56.1 to be 1¼ lengths ahead of R U Talkin at the finish while also setting a new mark. Sports Legend, an Ontario Gold finalist at two and three despite only notching one victory in his initial two campaigns, is making up for lost time in 2019, as the Sportswriter gelding ran his 2019 scorecard to 4-3-1-0 with a half-length success over hard-charging Pocono Pike utilizer Under Paid. Jennifer Bongiorno trains the winner for Gestion J Y Blais Inc. Turbo Hill, a four-year-old son of American Ideal, won his fifth straight race and is now 7-for-8 lifetime, with his 1:54.2 final clocking (after he stole a 58 half on the lead) sufficient to hold off Dakota Ole by 1¼ lengths. A winner in 1:51.1 here earlier in the meet, Turbo Hill was driven and is trained by Hunter Oakes for owner Tom Hill. Gilly's Boy ran his 2019 record to 3-for-3, and he also posted the fastest mile of the young season so far at the mountain oval, 1:50.3, while winning the $21,500 fast-class pacing feature. The Cam's Card Shark gelding, who also took a new mark, left alertly, yielded to favorite Stars Align A as that one cut fractions of 26.3, 55.1, and 1:22.1, then came out for the drive and passed the chalk by a half-length under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano, who had four visits to Victory Lane. Ron Burke conditions the career-sharp pacer for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. ... And then 38 minutes later, the Bettor's Delight gelding Havefaithinme N lowered the Pocono seasonal best another tick, moving to the lead after a 26.4 opener, posting middle splits of 54 and 1:21.4, then staying strong to the finish to give driver Jim Morrill Jr. a third win on the night (Tyler Buter also drove three winners). Trained by Jose Godinez for Blindswitch Racing Stable, Gary Axelrod, Good Friends Racing Stable and Santo Farina, Havefaithinme N was of course a star Down Under, winning the 2016 Miracle Mile in 1:47 5/10, at the time the fastest Australasian mile race ever, and recorded most of his $1,182,169 bankroll in the Southern Hemisphere. Once again the claiming box was a Saturday night beehive of activity at Pocono, as seasonal records were set in amount of horses claimed (17) and amount changing hands for horseflesh ($328,750). Ten days into the meet (with most of the claimers written on Saturdays), there have been 62 horses going back to different barns after their races, with the money tally now over seven figures for the meet at $1,094,500. FINISHING LINES - The Pocono horsemen's community was saddened to learn that Syl DeCample Jr. passed away recently at age 76. Only three horsemen (George Napolitano Jr., Bill Lambertus, and Bill Mullin) have won more horsemen's crowns locally than did the colorful DeCample, who was the best in driving victories three straight years (1977 through 1979), and then won both the UDR title and the training wins title in 1992 - with Syl's son Syl III succeeding his father in the trainers' category the next year. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 19, 2018 -- It took Albergo Hanover 19 career starts to make it to his first stake, but he debuted with a splash, jogging in 1:49.4 in a Pennsylvania Sires Stake. On Monday, he'll try to repeat and secure a spot in the PASS championship in the $162,012 Tarport Effrat, the final preliminary leg for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, at The Meadows. The son of Well Said-Allamerican Celeb leaves from post 5 in race 8 with regular pilot Joe Bongiorno. First post is 1:05 PM. A modest $17,000 yearling acquisition, Albergo Hanover was racing in overnights in Canada when owner Gestion JY Blais Inc. sent him to trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. "They wanted to see if he could get around Yonkers," she says. "He's a little guy, but he was perfect. I recommended to the owner that they take a shot at the Aug. 12 sires stake leg. I had a feeling some of the better colts would be at the Carl Milstein that night. He was so, so good. The minute he reached the stretch, we knew he was a winner. He finished with his ear plugs in." Albergo Hanover boasts a three-race winning streak that easily could have been five but for a July 16 mishap at Yonkers where a hopple broke and settled on a hind leg. Joe Bongiorno was able to keep the colt upright and avert disaster. "Luck was definitely on our side that night," Jennifer Bongiorno says. "Luck got him back safe." When he first arrived at Yonkers, Albergo Hanover was prone to stud-like behavior that, Bongiorno says, he since has outgrown. "When I was walking a mare past him in the paddock, he had a meltdown, jumping up and down like he was trying to escape," she says. "We had to give him three baths that day. He's perfect in the paddock now, but we still leave the track with him immediately. We don't want to chance anything. "He likes to let people know he's there, so he's a little bit vocal -- especially around our other stallions. Evenin Of Pleasure will yell, Rubber Duck will yell, and Albergo will yell louder than all of them." Albergo Hanover currently is tied for seventh in PASS points; with eight qualifying for the $252,000 championship at Pocono on Sept. 2, he'll need a strong performance to cement a berth. While lightly staked the rest of the season, he's eligible for the Simcoe and the Keystone Classic at The Meadows. Monday's card also features a $60,000 PA Stallion Series stake for sophomore colt and gelding pacers. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

YONKERS, N.Y. – When the draw to randomly allocate the 22 harness racing trotters of the SOA of NY’s French American Trotting Club to their new connections was complete, trainer Jenn Bongiorno was excited to begin researching her new prospect, Ursis Des Caillons. When she viewed the gelding’s profile and saw he is already 10 years old and appeared small on replays, she didn’t know what to expect. “I started looking him up and I was like, oh my gosh, he’s 10,” Bongiorno said. “So we got an older one, but he has some nice races over there. From what we saw, we thought he was going to be extremely small. When we were watching replays, we thought we got a really small horse.” A son of Kool du Caux out of the Workaholic mare Jolie Nuit, Ursis Des Caillons won eight races and 239,580€ in France in the stables of Hubert Hardy and Nicolas Ensch. Although his last victory came November 20, 2017 and his two most recent starts resulted in disqualifications, Mike Lachance felt the 10-year-old was worth including in the French American Trotting Club. “I asked Alex (Dadoyan) who ended up training him over in France and he said Mike Lachance. Mike’s comment was that he’s very well-mannered and he handles the turns very well,” Bongiorno said. Bongiorno’s concerns about Ursis Des Caillons’ age were alleviated when he arrived at her stable in good order last month. Although she and brother Joe Bongiorno did find Ursis Des Caillons to be small and narrow, he looked like he would be suited to the half-mile track at Yonkers Raceway.  “I was excited to get him over here and when he walked in the barn, he was just very narrow and he was skinny, so we definitely got him some groceries and we took care of him,” Bongiorno said. “He’s put on weight, so I’m happy to see that. How he’s so narrow and small is not the worst thing when you’re going to be racing on a half-mile.” Bongiorno then focused on adapting the gelding to her training style and changing his equipment. She started with a blank slate and worked her way up. A shoeing change proved beneficial and Bongiorno now says Ursis Des Caillons trots perfectly. She also added a headpole, a piece of equipment not worn in France. “On day one, we just put a harness on him, put some cotton in his ears and he was fine, he jogged really well. Joe actually sat behind him day one and really liked him and every day he improves and adapts well,” Bongiorno said.  “We put on a shoe that we really believe in here with our trotters,” she continued. “He does have a headpole on. We approached it like he was a baby though because they don’t wear a lot of equipment over there. We actually jogged him with the headpole first to make sure he was going to be ok with it and then trained him with the headpole and he’s fine. I thought that was funny, we have a 10-year-old that we’re babying because we have to make sure he’s not going to be uncomfortable with it.” Ursis Des Caillons proved impressive in the mornings. He went a training trip ahead of his first qualifier and beat one of Bongiorno’s pacers. “When we biked him up, he passed one of my pacers and came the last quarter in 26-and-a-piece,” the trainer said. “Joe and I looked at each other and said, ‘we have a real horse here.’ Really the question was just if he was going to handle the half.” Ursis Des Caillons completed his first qualifier at Yonkers Raceway July 13. After racing in second early, driver Joe Bongiorno moved Ursis Des Caillons to the lead before the half. He won the 1 ¼-mile trial by 3 lengths, stopping the timer in 2:30.4 with a :27.3 final panel. Scott Di Domenico’s Deo finished second while Aigle De La Vallee was third for Rob Harmon. Very Very Fast captured the other French-exclusive qualifier that afternoon for Bob Bresnahan, beating Rich Banca’s Adagio De La Tour and Bob Bongiorno’s Uhlan Noir in 2:29.4. “When we came here the other day and Joe went a trip with him to warm him up, he was super. Joe thought he was going to handle the track perfectly and then he went out and that qualifier was really, really good. He was wrapped up, not asking him at all.” Bongiorno said.  “When he was coming over here, I thought we were going to have a nice horse, I thought we would improve him for sure, but after that training mile and qualifier, I really think we have one of the best ones.” Other French American Trotting Club participants Alpha d’Urzy and Bioness made their first pari-mutuel starts in the United States this week. The former won a $4,500 overnight in 1:57.1 at Saratoga July 15 for trainer Rene Allard while the latter finished third, individually timed in 1:54.4, in an $11,000 race at Pocono July 17 for Chris Oakes. Ed Gannon’s French trotter Ubanji finished second, individually timed in 1:55.3, in a qualifier at Harrah’s Philadelphia July 17. Yonkers will host qualifiers exclusively for the French Trotters at the 1 ¼-mile distance July 21 ahead of the start of the French American Trotting Club Series August 5. The second and third legs of the series will be held August 19 and 26, respectively and the $100,000 final is set for September 2. For more information, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, June 16, 2018--Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno, $5.20) was a two-move sharpie Saturday night  winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace. Leaving the gate from assigned (and penultimate) post position No. 6, Evenin' of Pleasure found a three-hole behind 13-10 favorite Missile J (Brian Sears) and Artful Way (Mark MacDonald). The former led through early intervals of :27.4 and :56.3. Evenin' of Pleasure then went after the leader, engaging Missile J in and out of a 1:23.4 three-quarters. With urging from his chauffeur, Evenin' of Pleasure grabbed a short lead entering the lane. He couldn't open any nighttime daylight, though, as Missile J hung around. Evenin' of Pleasure did prevail, however, the margin three-quarters of a length in a season-best 1:51...matching (Bettor Memories) the fastest local mile of the season. Missile J settled for second, with Pacing Major N (Jordan Stratton), Theartofconfusion A (George Brennan) and Somewhere Fancy (Dan Dube) rounding out the payees. For second choice Evenin' of Pleasure, an 8-year-old son of Dragon Again owned by Gestion J Y Blais and trained by Jennifer Bongiorno, it was his fourth win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $14.60, the triple returned $43.50 and the superfecta paid $214. The first of nine Sunday matinees in an 11-week span offers a Father's Day (June 17th) first post of 12:35 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

CHESTER PA - The Bettor's Delight mare Divas Image, despite having to go first-over, paced her back half in a sizzling 54.1 to take the harness racing $18,000 featured distaff pace at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon. Driver Joe Bongiorno got away third from the rail with the winner of $362,682, then sent her out and up first-over, and Divas Image responded, going a 26.3 split down the back in the process of gunning to the lead, and then tacking on a 27.3 back quarter to easily handle her competition by 3¾ lengths while taking a new lifetime mark of 1:51. Jennifer Bongiorno trains the fast five-year-old, who has now won two straight and 5-of-9 in 2018. The victory was perhaps a bit bittersweet, because on Monday Eugene Kurzrok, a partner in both the Our Horse Cents Stables and Stable 45, which shares ownership of the winner with J&T Silva Stables LLC, had passed away at 81. Among the ownership of such stars as Mission Brief and Southwind Frank, Kurzrok was among the sport's higher-profile owners, and the victory of Divas Image may help allay some of the grief of his friends and partners. For the total Friday Philly card, the "Ohio Millers" combined for half the victories in the 14 races, with David winning four times (the first three with Nifty Norman trainees) and Brett three. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

YONKERS, N.Y. – After finishing second to Rockin Ron in leg one of the George Morton Levy Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway in his seasonal debut March 17, hasrness racing trainer Jenn Bongiorno is expecting Evenin of Pleasure to be even sharper in week two of the series. The 8-year-old will start from post three in the eighth race tonight (March 24), the second of four divisions of the Levy series on the 12-race Yonker's program. “Last week, I was so pleased. I thought it was a great start. Rockin Ron is probably one of the best horses in the series, we were not going to go by him that night, but I was really happy. I felt Evenin of Pleasure finished up well to stay that close to Rockin Ron,” Bongiorno said. “Rockin Ron already had a start, that was our first start. Second start this week, I think he’s in such a good spot. I’d like to see him control the race for sure.” Evenin of Pleasure came to Bongiorno’s barn in late February with his connections, owner Gestion Blais and trainer Travis Cullen, targeting the Levy Series. They initially intended to send Evenin of Pleasure to Ron Burke, who conditioned the horse during a stint of racing in the Yonkers Open Pace last summer. However, with Burke’s series entries maxed out, Bongiorno got the call. “Ron Burke couldn’t take the horse for the series because he has horses he owns himself, so he can’t put a horse he doesn’t own ahead of one that he does, so luckily the owner was pointed in our direction,” Bongiorno said. “You have that kind of a classy horse, the day he got to the barn, I just ran to his stall and gave him a hug. It’s such an honor to even be able to sit behind a horse like that and have the opportunity to race him in such a great series.” A 27-time winner from 126 starts, Evenin of Pleasure is a multiple stakes winner with $811,524 in earnings. Bongiorno says his class shows in the morning. “One thing I’ve definitely learned is better horses are better on the track. They aren’t the ones that grab on so much. They’re so smart and just perfect gentlemen basically,” she explained. “I can’t really say enough good things about him. Perfect in the barn, great attitude, turn him out every day. He seems to be really adjusting well to our program.” Although Evenin of Pleasure arrived with his own rigging, Bongiorno made some adjustments that she feels will help the son of Dragon Again stay sharp as the series goes on, such as a shoeing change that will help to combat Evenin of Pleasure’s habit of running down, or hitting his heels on the surface of the track when he races. “Right now, we have him completely off his rundown, so I think that could definitely be something in the series that will help him because that can definitely hurt a horse,” she said. “When horses run down, the back of their heels hit the ground. With his shoeing and changes we made with that, we were able to get him off that, so that’s a plus.” Evenin of Pleasure arrived at Bongiorno’s stable in New Jersey nearly ready to qualify. She trained him the week he arrived and planned to qualify him at Freehold the following week, with the aim of qualifying him a second time before starting him in the series. However, a winter storm threatened to derail Evenin of Pleasure’s schedule. “That first qualifier was actually supposed to be at Freehold and it was the day of the snowstorm. I was like, ‘oh my gosh, we have to get this horse qualified,’ because he needed two qualifiers and that first start was going to be the Levy. I was in pure panic mode, I really was,” Bongiorno said. Bongiorno reached out to the Meadowlands race office and got Evenin of Pleasure in to qualify there after Freehold canceled. He won that March 3 trial in 1:53.1, beating Sunfire Blue Chip and Always at My Place. Six days later, Evenin of Pleasure posted a 6-length score in a qualifier at Freehold. “I thought that was a really nice qualifier over some nice horses: Sunfire Blue Chip, Always at My Place, who won a leg of the series, so I knew that we were in the right direction,” Bongiorno commented. “Freehold that day, the track was so dead, it was just a dead track. He paced in 1:54.2. We were happy, but we thought he might need another start before he was in tip-top shape. I think second start he’ll definitely be tighter and better.” Evenin of Pleasure’s leg two rivals include Christen Me and All Bets Off, who each finished third in leg one of the series. Bongiorno is confident given her horse’s favorable draw as Christen Me and All Bets Off will start from posts six and seven, respectively. “When I saw the draw this week, I couldn’t have been happier,” Bongiorno said. “Christen Me is a nice horse, but I thought he had time last week to shake free and win, and he didn’t. All Bets Off is probably one of the top two in the series, but he didn’t look that good last week either and drawing post seven isn’t the easiest way of doing things. I think having the inside is definitely going to be to our advantage.” In addition to Evenin of Pleasure, Bongiorno will start longshot Franco Rayner in race 10, the third division of the Levy Series. After finishing fourth in leg one, the Australian import drew post seven tonight and is a 20-1 morning line. Although she believes he has talent, Bongiorno has yet to unlock his full potential. “I’ve been saying since we first bought him, I think he’s the real deal,” Bongiorno said. “Foreign horses, it takes time to get them to adapt to life here. It’s been a little bit of a battle with him. Last week, he did race well, he left great. He doesn’t have the respect yet because he’s not proven. Foreign horses have their little issues, we’ll work on it, like keeping him better hydrated. He’s going to need a little more attention because it seems like he can have issues.” First post time tonight is 6:50 p.m. For entries for the card, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Since taking out her harness racing trainers’ license in June, Jennifer Bongiorno has enjoyed immediate and steady success at Yonkers Raceway. She’s sent out 18 winners from 73 starts for an 18 percent strike rate and posted another 27 placings. Despite her flying start and a contingent of top-class horses in her stable, a victory in the lucrative local Open ranks has proven elusive. Bongiorno will have another chance at her first Open win with Georgie’s Pockets in Sunday’s $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. “I couldn’t be happier with the results. I give full credit to the horses I have and the owners I have behind me,” Bongiorno said. “The owners that I have behind me, big names that are able to provide us with horses that have talent and are able to go out there and win races. I definitely own my own horses in the barn, but you have names like Jerry Silva, Gene Kurzrok, Howard Taylor. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.” This spring, Bongiorno found herself increasingly involved in managing the horses she owned while still balancing a full-time position as a harness racing broadcaster at The Meadowlands. Bongiorno knew her true passion was with the horses and with the help of her younger brother, driver Joe Bongiorno, decided to take the plunge into training her own stable. “I felt like I was constantly at work just worrying about the horses I owned and talking to different trainers that I’m friendly with and wanting to learn more about that end of the game,” she said. “So really, I just took a leap of faith and I knew I would have the support of my brother, which is immense. “I definitely feel I made the right decision,” she continued. “I go to work every day and I think I was at the point at The Meadowlands where it became a job for me, and now with what I’m doing, it’s not. I’m so passionate, I’m so happy. Every morning when I walk in, those horses are like kids to me. I love each and every one of them and they’re what makes me happy.” Bongiorno didn’t have to wait long to taste success. She scored her first win as a conditioner in her very first start when 5-year-old pacer Gratian Hanover won a $14,500 overnight from post eight as a 9-1 outsider June 20. “My first win, I’ve never felt that level of gratification before,” she said. “My first start was with my boy Gratian Hanover. He’s my absolute pet. Luckily, crazily enough, we had a win together. It was awesome.” Bongiorno will look to add to her win tally when Georgie’s Pockets races from post four in this week’s Open Trot. Joe Bongiorno will take the lines behind the 8-1 morning line chance who will face six rivals, including 3-1 favorite Home’N Dry, a winner of two straight local Opens, International Trot starter In Secret, and millionaire mare Charmed Life. Buen Camino, Tight Lines, and Wings of Royalty complete the field. “Opens at Yonkers are always difficult. It being a seven-horse field is not the worst thing, that’s for sure,” Bongiorno said. “He has speed, he can do it from off the pace. Versatile horses are always good to have. He’s given me no reason to think he can’t go with this group. Sometimes I think he might be a step below them, but he’s beaten Home’N Dry, he’s finished with In Secret before, so I see no reason why he won’t be competitive in there.” Although Georgie’s Pockets has posted 3 wins and another five placings from 15 starts and earned $86,114 since debuting for Bongiorno in June, the son of Muscle Mass almost didn’t come to her stable. After an agent approached her to buy him, Bongiorno felt the price was too high and passed on purchasing the 4-year-old. However, when browsing online listings soon after, Bongiorno’s affinity for sire Muscle Mass proved fruitful as Georgie’s Pockets appeared in the results for a more reasonable price. Bongiorno took him and brought Kurzrok’s Our Horse Cents Stables on as a partner. “What a nice horse he is. He was supposed to be in the Harrisburg Sale and we took him out because he is exactly what you would want in a horse,” Bongiorno said. “He has the most awesome personality. You walk in the barn and he’s the most spoiled horse. He comes running out, he just can’t wait to be around you. You would never know he’s a stud, which is cool. “He’s flawlessly gaited,” she continued. “Joe said after the first time he drove him, ‘you can leave with this horse on a loose line at Yonkers,’ and there’s not many horses you can do that there with. He’s perfectly gaited, perfectly sound and when you have horses like that, they make it as easy as can be.” Georgie’s Pockets’ style has proven a perfect fit for Yonkers Raceway. After disappointing on the five-eighths oval at Pocono, Bongiorno moved Georgie’s Pockets back to Yonkers, where he posted two straight wins at the non-winners of $10,000 and $20,000 levels in July. His most recent score, an 8-length romp for non-winners of $30,000 last five came October 7. “One thing about him is, he is a half-mile horse. There are certain horses that aren’t going to pick up on a big track, and he’s one of them,” Bongiorno explained. “He doesn’t really leave Yonkers now because we know he’s not going to be able to pick up his speed. He’ll go as fast on a half as he will on a mile. That’s just his deal.” Georgie’s Pockets’ most impressive effort in his trainer’s eyes came not when winning, but as the runner-up in 4-year-old Dia Monde’s track record-setting 1:54.2 effort in the Open Handicap Trot September 23. Although she’s being realistic about her chances in this week’s Open Trot, Bongiorno thinks Georgie’s Pockets has great upside for her stable going forward. If he can pull off an Open victory, it will be one the young conditioner won’t forget. “He’s only 4, I think he’s only going to get better. He’s a beautiful looking horse, he’s strong, and I can’t say it enough, he’s so happy, he loves his work. I think going forward he’s going to be a good thing to have in the barn,” she said. “I have three trotters that I think the world of racing: B Yoyo at Pocono and Rubber Duck and Georgie at Yonkers. Anyone would be so lucky to have one of them and to have all three of them in the barn is a true blessing. “I’m just so thankful for my life right now. I wake up and I feel so happy and so blessed. I’m very thankful to everyone I have supporting me,” she continued. “I think my brother is an incredible horseman and a great driver. ‘Georgie’ is a rockstar and I’m so proud of the horse he’s become. I’m still searching for that Open win at Yonkers, but I really will be very, very excited about that. If ‘Georgie’ can do it, with his personality, he would be so proud of himself.” First post time Sunday at Yonkers Raceway is 11:25 a.m. For entries for the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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