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YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 20, 2018-Pocket-sitting fave Lispatty (Joe Bongiorno, $5.50) picked off pace-setting Caviart Cherie (Jason Bartlett) Friday night (July 20th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Alertly away from post position No. 2, Lispatty took that early seat behind her rival as that one threw down early intervals of :27.3 and a flat 56 seconds. Down the backside the second time, Medusa (Dan Dube) moved first-up from fourth, offering just token annoyance in and out of 1:23.4 three-quarters (:27.4 third quarter). Caviart Cherie owned a length-and-a-half lead entering the lane when Lispatty took a peek from the pocket. She then ducked back in waiting to Medusa to back away, then edged out and by. Lispatty whipped 'Cherie' by a widening length-and-a-quarter in 1:52. Bronze Over N (Brent Holland), Medusa and Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton) came away with the minors. For Lipatty, a 5-year-old daughter of McArdle owned by Gilbert Garcia-Owen and trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, it was her sixth win in in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $23.60, the triple returned $120 and the superfecta paid $544. Special Friday props to Safe from Terror, whose second-place finish in the $29,000, 12th-race pacing finale made her the sport's newest milliionairess.  The 6-year-old daughter of Western Terror has earned $1,006,077 with a resume of 128 starts, 53 wins, 18 seconds and 15 third-place finishes. The mare, driven by Holland, is owned by Big Bad DT Racing Stable and trained by Virgil Morgan Jr. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Elkton, MD --- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (July 19) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by harnesss racing driver Joe Bongiorno; trainer Nancy Johannson; TV Personality Heather Vitale; Chairman of the Standardbred Horse Show Committee Rob Pennington, and Running Aces Track Announcer Darin Gagne. Bongiorno, Driver of superstar mare Diva's Image, joins to talk about her big come-from-behind upset in the TVG-Golden Girls Grand Circuit event at The Meadowlands this past Saturday night. Johannson, Trainer of superstar sophomore Kissin In The Sand, will discuss her filly pacer's strong victory in the Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands last Saturday, which may have cemented her as the filly to beat in the 3-year-old division. Vitale, Host of one of the longest running harness racing television series' 'Post Time', will join the show to talk about the show's 20th anniversary, as well as her most memorable moments from the program. Pennington, the Chair of the Standardbred Horse Show Committee, will talk about the upcoming National Standardbred Horse Show at The Horse Park of New Jersey. The show will take place on August 8th, 9th, and 10th in Allentown. Gagne, The Track Announcer at Running Aces in Minnesota, will host the weekly Running Aces segment, which will highlight the upcoming $50,000 Dan Patch for pacers. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. From the Mike and Mike Post Time Show

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Divas Image, sent off at odds of 31-1, charged through the stretch from near the rear of the pack to win Saturday's $189,750 Golden Girls for older female pacers by one length over 99-1 shot Inverse Hanover in 2:03.1 for the distance of 1 1/8 miles at the Meadowlands. Pure Country finished third. Shartin N took the lead soon after the start and set fractions of :25.2 for the quarter, :53.1 for the half, 1:21.3 for three-quarters and 1:49 at the mile. Divas Image and driver Joe Bongiorno were 10th at the top of the stretch, more than eight lengths behind 1-5 favorite Shartin N, before rallying on the far outside. She won for the seventh time in 16 starts this year. "The fractions were very fast," Bongiorno said. "Fourth over, being out the whole mile, I was a little concerned because she's a small mare, but she's just as tough as they come. When I flipped her out, she absolutely came out of her harness. She was pacing very strong." Divas Image, a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight-Rocknroll Diva, is trained by Jennifer Bongiorno and owned by Joe Bongiorno LLC, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro and J&T Silva Stables. She has won 18 of 58 career races and earned $498,917. Divas Image paid $65.60 to win. By Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, May 4, 2018—First, she won the open draw. Then, she closed matters early. Odds-on favorite Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett, $2.60) toyed with her six foes Friday night (May 4th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace. Away second, Mach it a Par went up and over Bettorhaveanother (Joe Bongiorno) before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. A qualifier-esque :57.4 intermission effectively ended what minimal suspense actually remained. Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland) was the first to move—from seventh—and subsequently broke after Call Me Queen Be (Eric Goodell) appeared to come out underneath her. Meanwhile, Mach it a Par maintained her open lead in and out of a 1:26.1 three-quarters, widening to 3½ lengths off the final turn. She finished if off by 2½ lengths in 1:54.2. Culinary Delight (Larry Stalbaum) did get into second, with Bettorhaveanother, Call Me Queen Be and Delightful Dragon coming away with the minors.   For Mach it a Par, an 8-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned by D’Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P & Gandolfo Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was her fourth win in 13 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $8.40, with the triple returning $28.60. Derby Day fun begins early Saturday (May 5th), with mutuel windows opening at 10 AM in advance of the 144th  Kentucky Derby. First post at Churchill Downs is 10:30 AM, and Yonkers getting the spirit with the obligatory hat contests, mint juleps and an array of food and drink specials. Of course, since a wager or two is made, windows are open both inside and outside, with Derby post time set for about 6:46 PM.     Frank Drucker 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

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - On an evening that saw competitive harness racing, a $9,700 payout in the Pick 10 Survivor wager and no fewer than four drivers winning at least two races, Joe Bongiorno and Billy Dobson were the biggest winners of all, as both guided three horses to victory lane Friday night at the Meadowlands. Bongiorno's three-bagger began with Woodbine shipper More Than Talk in the second race, who trotted the mile in 1:55.1 and returned $5.00 to win as the favorite for trainer Ron Burke. Cracklin Rosie followed in the sixth for trainer Carmen Auciello, paying $10.40 to win after pacing the mile in 1:53. Joe B's triple treat concluded in the ninth when Elysium Lady scored, paying $6.00, after trotting the mile in 1:54 for Burke. Dobson got underway in the fifth race guiding Kyle Spagnola-trainee No Recess to a 14-1 upset ($30.80 to win). The winner trotted the mile in 1:53.3. Carobbean Pacetry took the eighth race pace in 1:51.3, returning $10.40 to her backers for trainer Meir Geller. Dobson's third winner came in the 13th race pace as even-money choice Talbot Chanel ($4.00) scored as much the best in a lifetime-fastest 1:53. The win gave Burke a training triple on the card. A LITTLE MORE: It was a night for the chalk players as favorites reigned supreme in eight of the 13 races. ... Jim Marohn Jr. and Anthony Napolitano each recorded driving doubles. ... The Late 20 Cent Jackpot Super High Five again failed to result in a single-ticket winner, pushing the carryover past the $50,000 mark. ... All-source wagering on the card totaled $2,459,528. ... Racing resumes Saturday night at the Big M. Post time is 6:35 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

Lexington, KY - On a warm late-summer evening in the Bluegrass, The Red Mile hosted the annual Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) Super Night on Sunday, Sept. 17, with $1.7 million in purses awarded in the eight harness racing finals for 2 and 3 year olds of both gaits and sexes. Under new conditions this year that resulted in each of the four 2-year-old finals having a purse of $250,000, while the 3 year olds raced for $175,000 in each of those four divisions. Trainer Tony Alagna, racing in the KYSS program for the first time as a direct result of the new conditions that allowed eligibility to progeny of mares who resided at least six months in the Commonwealth, sent out seven in the finals and had a pair of winners in the 2-year-old colt pacer Key Advisor and the 2-year-old filly pacer Band Stand. Both winners were driven by Joe Bongiorno. Key Advisor held game down the stretch to hold off favorite Grand Teton and driver Mark MacDonald and win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:51.1. Trajectory and Yannick Gingras finished third. Key Advisor was one of six newly-crowned KYSS champions who were purchased at the 2016 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale; the other two are homebreds. A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Key Advisor was a $200,000 purchase by Brittany Farms and Key Advisor Racing from breeder Courant Ab. His KYSS final win was his third straight and a career best, increasing his earnings to $164,350. Presenting the trophy to the winning connections was Kelly Knight Craft, who was recently confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Canada. Band Stand completed a sweep of the three KYSS preliminaries and final with a 1:52.4 effort. Bongiorno rallied the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance from fifth early, moving third-over and then three wide in the final turn to win by a half-length over Let's Fall In Love and Gingras, with Dance Blue and MacDonald third. Now a perfect five-for-five in her brief career, Band Stand is a $40,000 yearling purchase by Brad Grant from breeders Steve Stewart and John Carver. The freshman filly now has earnings of $171,550. Top Expectations sprung a 10-1 upset in the KYSS final for 2-year-old filly trotters. Driven by Marcus Miller, Top Expectations closed late in a 1:54.1 mile to edge Lily Stride and Jeff Gregory by a neck, with Zoe Bi and Aaron Merriman third. Top Expectations had won once in the KYSS preliminaries and needed all she had to best Lily Stride, who was a winner earlier this year on the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes circuit but was able to race in Kentucky as a result of the new dual eligibility conditions. The daughter of Cantab Hall was a $120,000 yearling purchase from breeder Dunroven Stud by Quebec-based owner Daniel Plouffe, best known as owner of Triple Crown champion Blissful Hall. Trained by Erv Miller, Top Expectations won for the second time in eight starts while increasing his earnings to $168,378. Hat Trick Habit, directed by the sport's all-time winningest driver Dave Palone, captured the KYSS final for freshman male trotters. The son of Donato Hanover held off Wolfgang and Jimmy Takter for his second win in four starts. Dawson Springs and Bongiorno finished third. Bred by Frederika Caldwell, Hat Trick Habit is a $65,000 yearling purchase of Fred Monteleone Stable. Frank Antonacci is the trainer. In The Dark was the only 2016 KYSS champion to successfully defend the title when she scored a 1:51.2 victory in the $175,000 final for 3-year-old filly pacers. Trace Tetrick was in the sulky behind In The Dark as she bested runner-up Al-Mar-Got A Fever by a half length, with Straightontherocks and Merriman third. Bred by Stewart and Rick Rader, In The Dark was a $8,000 yearling purchase by Jim Avritt Jr. The Jack Gray Jr.-trained daughter of Cambest won for the fifth time in seven starts this year, with her prior scores coming on the Kentucky fair circuit. Sunday's KYSS final win increased her career earnigs to $199,825. Tetric and Gray made a second trip to the winner's circle with the 3-year-old colt pacer Beer Dad, who led wire to wire in 1:55.3. Defending KYSS champ Starlight AS and Elliott Deaton finished 1 3/4 lengths behind in second, with He's On A Mission and Tim Tetrick third. A homebred of longtime Kentucky-based breeder-owner Dr. James Sautter, Beer Dad is a son of Tequila Spur. The win was his second in eight starts this year after going unraced last year at two. Beer Dad's earnings now stand at $91,000. Cassandra AS led from start to finish in the final for 3-year-old filly trotters. Tyler Smith was in the sulky as Cassandra AS bested Sadie's Trouble and Tim Tetrick by 1 3/4 lengths, with the winner's stablemater Almondy AS third for Deaton. Defending KYSS champ Sheas Victory made a break early and was never in contention. Anette Lorentzon trains Cassandra As, an ACL Stuteri Ab-bred daughter of Allstar Hall, who was second by a head to Sheas Victory in last year's KYSS final. Sunday's win was her second in four starts this year, bringing her career earnings to $145,150. The Super Night program actually kicked off with a bang whgen the 3-year-old male pace went to Mt. Sterling Mafia, a son of Cambest owned in part by Red Mile announcer and Kentucky Harness Horsemen's Association executive director Gabe Prewitt. Driven by Corey Callahan, Mt. Sterling Mafia wore down odds-on favorite and defending champ V Power and driver Palone in deep stretch to score in 1:51.1. Best Trick Hanover and Bongiorno finished third. Prewitt, in partnershp with James McLaughlin and trainer Kevin Thomas, purchased Mt. Sterling Mafia as a yearling for $35,000 from breeder Walnut Hall Ltd. Winless last year in six starts, Mt. Sterling Mafia now has four wins in 10 starts this year. His career-best effort on Sunday night increased his earnings to $152,870. The Kentucky Super Night card wraps up the early portion of the 2017 meet at The Red Mile. After a 10-day hiatus, racing returns to the historic racetrack in Lexington on Thursday, Sept. 28, the first of eight cards of the traditional Grand Circuit stand. (KYSS). From the Kentucky Sire Stakes

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, June 18, 2017 - Westchester Sundays returned (June 18th), with an out-every-step Rubber Duck ($47) with harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno in the bike, winning Yonkers Raceway's $68,000 Open Handicap Trot. The Father's Day marquee trot was the first race of the afternoon, one of four 'French' trots going at the mile-and-one-quarter distance. It looked much different early as 3-4 choice Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett) jumped it off from the pocket. Meanwhile, there were four different leaders through the first half-mile (:28.1, :57) including Springbank Sam N (Jordan Stratton), Red Hot Herbie (Dan Dube), Not Afraid (Matt Kakaley) and Opulent Yankee (Ake Svanstedt). As for Rubber Duck from post position No. 7, he was quite wide into the first turn, then able to join the second tier from third-over after a rival broke. He sat outside Opulent Yankee in and out of a 1:25.4 three-quarters and 1:55.2 mile before wearing that rival down early in the lane. Rubber Duck had enough to hold Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammmer) at bay, winning by three-quarters of a length in 2:26 for the added distance. Red Hot Herbie lost the place photo, while Springbank Sam N and a recovering Hemi Seelster settled for the remainder. For eighth choice Rubber Duck, a 5-year-old son of Muscle Mass co-owned by Albertans Blair & Erna Corbeil and trained by Richard Johnson, it was his third win in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $472, with the triple returning $2,494. The latest installment of the 'New York, New York Double' offered a winning combination of 2-Divine Miss Grey (Belmont's 3rd race) and 1-Jericho (Yonkers' 7th race) paid $10.20 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $4,390. Frank Drucker

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (June 9, 2017) - The purse was only $20,000 and beforehand, most would not have guessed the race would be especially memorable, but harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno and B Yoyo made sure nobody would ever forget the sixth race at the Meadowlands on Friday night. B Yoyo, a 7-year-old Striking Sahbra gelding, ripped out of the pocket to go by the heavily favored Gural Hanover and win going away in 1:50.2. The final time is a world record for an aged gelding over a mile track. "He is one of the toughest horses I have ever sat behind," said Bongiorno. "I am totally speechless. I have never been more proud of a horse, he deserves it so much. He is all heart. I never even popped the earplugs. I am really grateful to be able to sit behind such a nice horse in a world record mile." Gural Hanover (Jordan Stratton) made the lead from his outside post through an opening quarter mile in :27 while B Yoyo happily settled into the pocket. Gural Hanover continued to lead the single file field through a half mile in :55 and three-quarters in 1:23.1. From there it was all B Yoyo who tipped out of the pocket and finished off the record mile with a :27 final quarter. Earlier in the night, veteran horseman Todd Buter won his 1,000th career race when Stitch In Time won the opener. Buter's son Tyler was in the sulky for the milestone victory. Eric Abbatiello closed out the card sweeping the final three races with winners that paid $16.80, $21.40 and $14.60. Total handle on the 10-race card was $2,137,910. Racing resumes Saturday night. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Driver Joe Bongiorno waited patiently for his opportunity, and when it came, he unleashed B Yoyo, who rallied furiously through the stretch to take the Friday night harness racing feature at the Meadowlands, a $20,000 conditioned event for trotters. The 7-year-old gelded son of Striking Sahbra, who won this race a week ago as the even-money favorite, was away well and sat in the three hole from the quarter to the stretch. The conditions of the race may have been the same as a week ago but the task was far tougher this time around with the field including the likes of Opulent Yankee, who was off a dominant score at Yonkers, and 2016 Townsend-Ackerman winner Dayson, who was sent to the gate as the 3-5 public choice. After an energetic opening quarter of :27.3, Opulent Yankee yielded the front to Dayson, who seemingly had everything under control after rating the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:25.3. But at crunch time, he came up empty. Enter B Yoyo, this time a 10-1 outsider who was sitting in a tough spot before swerving off the rail with three-sixteenths to go and out into the five path. He then charged home in a final quarter of :26.2 to win by a widening 2 lengths. Broadway Donna, the Breeders Crown 3-year-old filly champion from a year ago, was second in her seasonal debut. Opulent Yankee was third with Dayson fourth. "This horse is razor sharp and loves the Meadowlands," said Richard Johnson, trainer of B Yoyo. "He has a shot to be as good (as Dayson and Opulent Yankee). He is a very versatile horse." B Yoyo returned $22.80 to his backers and upped his seasonal stats to five wins in 16 starts after completing the mile in 1:52.3. A LITTLE MORE: A reminder to Meadowlands fans, the second annual Spring Beer Fest has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 10. The rainy weather expected to hit the Big M caused the postponement of the event, which had been slated for Saturday, May 13. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,449,987. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (March 25, 2017) - Our Sky Major brought a pretty big resume from Down Under as a multiple top-class stakes winner when he made his North American harness racing debut in February. After another eye-catching win on Saturday in the Meadowlands pacing feature, his first ever start at the New Jersey oval, Our Sky Major has stamped himself as a horse to watch in the free-for-all ranks this season. Joe Bongiorno worked out a textbook second-over trip for the 6/5 favorite in the field of eight and stormed down the stretch in :26.4 to win by two widening lengths in 1:51.2 over the sharp Millenium Wheel, who had won two in a row at the Big M. "He was as nice a horse to drive as you ever can imagine," said Joe Bongiorno. "He was two fingers to drive and can do anything I ask of him. He paced that mile well in hand." Our Sky Major is expected to return to the Levy Series at Yonkers. He finished seventh in round one last week after drawing an outside post, but closing good ground late. One race earlier, Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace eligible Highalator continued his rapid development with an impressive win in a conditioned pace in 1:52.2 with a :26.3 last quarter. It was his fifth straight for driver Victor Kirby and owners Daryl Bier and Charles Dombeck. The homebred son of Somebeachsomewhere - Higher And Higher is headed to the Weiss at Pocono before a start in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on May 6. Corey Callahan and Vincent Fusco, Jr. combined to win a pair of races. Jim Marohn, Jr. and Pat Lachance also posted driving doubles. Total handle was $2,551,089. Racing resumes next Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, February 26, 2017 - Yonkers Raceway's fourth Sunday harness racing card of the season included seven 'French' trots, though the featured $50,000 Open Handicap wasn't among them. A field of seven (after a defection) were all nose-to-gate going the flat mile, with second choice B Yoyo (Joe Bongiorno, $7.90) picked off 11-10 choice Rose Run Parker (George Brennan) at the wire in 1:56.1. The eventual winner-from post position No. 2-was part of an early, three-way scrum also involving Zooming (Tyler Buter) and Red Hot Herbie (Jason Bartlett). It was 'Herbie' making the lead (but not the cones) right around a :28.1 opening quarter-mile. Soon after, Rose Run Parker, who had tucked in behind the early speed, made his second move, taking his turn by a :58.4 half. It was :28.2 down the back (1:27.1) as B Yoyo went after the leader from third. Entering the stretch, Rose Run Parker owned a length lead, but the pursuer was relentless. B Yoyo was up by a nose, with Red Hot Herbie, Luck O The Irish (Jordan Stratton) and rank outsider Lou Man (Dan Dube) completed the cashers. The winner hadn't been seen in Westchester since October of 2015, while the runner-up jump it off in his only previous local try (July, 2016). For B Yoyo, a 7-year-old Striking Sahbra gelding trained by Richard Johnson for co-owners Bill Lambos and Dionisios Liberatos, is was his third win in eight seasonal starts.. The exacta paid $25.80, with the triple returning $79.50. The Sunday 'New York, New York Double' offered up a winning combo of 2-Shesmyheartandsoul (Aqueduct's 3rd race) and 1-Ontheroad De Vie (Yonkers' 6th race), which paid $25.50 for every correct $1 ticket. Total pool was $5,769. Frank Drucker

Harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno plans on working nearer to home this year, but hopes to be no less busy. The 23-year-old New Jersey resident, who in 2016 set career highs with 2,754 starts, 399 wins, and $3.79 million in purses, drove frequently at Ohio's Northfield Park last season, but plans to cut down on long commutes this season. So far this year, Bongiorno has focused on racing at the Meadowlands, Freehold, and Yonkers. He will add Harrah's Philadelphia to the mix when that oval opens April 2. Bongiorno entered Wednesday with 45 wins this season, with 18 coming at the Meadowlands (where he is tied for fourth in the standings), 16 at Freehold (tied for fifth) and 11 at Yonkers (10th). On Thursday night, Bongiorno has eight drives at the Meadowlands. The final three races, seven through nine, will air on "Meadowlands Harness Live" from 9:30-10:30 p.m. on SNY. Last season, Bongiorno had 121 wins at Freehold, 77 at the Meadowlands, 49 at Philly, and 40 at Yonkers. He picked up the bulk of his remaining 112 victories at Northfield, where he visited the winner's circle 101 times. Bongiorno was the 2010 Amateur Driver of the Year, awarded by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, and was the USHWA Monticello-Goshen chapter's 2011 Rising Star Award winner. In 2015, he won (in a dead heat) the $489,400 Valley Victory Stakes with Make Or Miss in his first drive in a race worth more than $150,000. Last year, he competed in 14 races with purses greater than $150,000. Among those were three Breeders Crown finals, the Meadowlands Pace, the Messenger Stakes, William Haughton Memorial, and Cane Pace. He also drove in an elimination division of the Hambletonian. Other highlights for Bongiorno in 2016 included notching his 1,000th career win and driving 3-year-old female pacer Divas Image to victory on the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold circuit. Bongiorno recently took time to talk with Ken Weingartner from the U.S. Trotting Association's Harness Racing Communications division about his career and plans for 2017. KW: We talked during the early part of last year about how you were poised for a breakout year and it certainly lived up to that. JB: Yeah, it turned out to be a great year. I ended the year one (win) shy of 400 and had my best year for purses. For the horses that I own, it was a good year for them too. So it was an excellent year. Hopefully I'm going to build on that again this year. KW: Do you wish you had gotten to 400 wins? JB: It definitely would have been nice, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not really a big deal. I'm just going to move on and hopefully put up some similar numbers this year. It's going to be tough to get as many wins without going to Northfield, but so far it's been a good start to the year. I've been driving a lot at Freehold and the Meadowlands and Yonkers and I'm really looking forward to (Harrah's Philadelphia) opening. KW: Last year you pretty much doubled the number of drives you had in any previous year. How much did that benefit you? People say the more you drive, the better you get. JB: That's true. And you learn different driving styles, like Northfield the racing style is a lot different. And I got to meet a lot of new people and build new friendships. It was definitely a good thing. It was just the driving back and forth became too tough. I was very appreciative of Northfield. It was a good run. This year I'm doing pretty well at Yonkers and it's hard to turn down the money that they're going for there. KW: So what's your schedule going to look like this year? JB: It's all going to depend. I'm going to go where I get the most work. I think when (Harrah's Philadelphia) opens I'm really going to make a big push at driving over there fulltime. I want to try to pick up as many drives as I can and do it along with the Meadowlands and Yonkers, and when I can go to Freehold, I will. But I'm going to take a different approach at (Harrah's Philadelphia) this year and try to pick up as much work as I can get there. No matter what, I'm going to be traveling and trying to work as many days as I possibly can and drive as many horses as I can possibly drive. KW: Looking back at last year, what stood out? What are you most proud of? JB: Divas Image was a big help last year. I got to go to Canada and drive her in the Ontario Gold Sire Stakes and drive her in the Super Final there. She really turned out to be a nice filly. Hopefully this year as a 4-year-old she can make a little impact in the (Blue Chip) Matchmaker (Series) coming up at Yonkers. KW: You had a win, a second, and a third with her in the Golds. JB: She really turned out to be a nice mare. I'm really appreciative of the connections that used me. I would say she was probably the highlight of the year. And I hit my 1,000th win. So that was a milestone. That was definitely cool. KW: You got to drive in a lot of races that you'd never been in before, like the Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown and Hambletonian. JB: Exactly. Even though the Hambo didn't turn out as planned (finishing seventh with Make Or Miss) it's just really an honor to be, at the time, 22 years old and drive in a lot of those big races. I'm super appreciative of all the trainers and owners that have been supporting me. Hopefully this year I can build on it and drive some more stakes horses and maybe get a few nice stakes wins. KW: You won the Valley Victory at the end of (2015). JB: Yes, with Make Or Miss, and that really gave me a big boost toward last year. It helped get drives for sure. Another thing that stood out (last year) was the fourth-place finish in the Meadowlands Pace (with Manhattan Beach). It was a shame that horse had the outside and got away so far back. If he was inside for that race, he probably would have been a big factor. He was charging in the lane and just fell short of being third. KW: Is it nice to get starts in those types of races and get that experience under your belt? JB: Yeah, but I don't really get nervous. That's not my personality. I take every race the same; I try not to change my outlook on the race. Obviously, it's going for more money, but the key is safety and trying to put horses in the right spot. I try to look at those races the same as a regular overnight race. I don't really get worked up for them. I look forward to races like that, but you just try to drive the race smart and make as much money for the owners as possible. KW: This is your eighth year of driving. Can you believe it's been that long? JB: Wow. It is crazy. Time definitely does fly. It doesn't feel like it's been that long. This is what I love to do; I love working with horses and learning about each horse. Every horse that you sit behind is different and has their own personality. As a catch driver the key is being able to learn what they like and what they don't like. That's what makes it so fun. KW: Growing up did you play other sports? JB: I played baseball and basketball but when I started jogging horses for (trainer) Buzzy Sholty, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I kind of put everything else on the backburner and I worried about getting better at working with horses. KW: How old were you then? JB: Like around 13 or 14. I always liked horses but I never really worked with them much. We owned a horse with Buzzy Sholty and we would go over there. I jogged one and I just felt super comfortable. I just wanted to keep going back and doing it more. I really started to get the hang of it and I wanted to start going training trips with the horses. I really enjoyed it. I just got hooked. KW: What would you like to accomplish this year? JB: I just like to build on each year. It's going to be hard to surpass the 400-win mark this year because Northfield, I was winning a good share of races there. Not going there is going to slow things down a little bit. But I could win fewer races at Yonkers and make more money. I'm getting my fair share of rides over there and doing the best I can do. Hopefully I can keep picking up more work and keep winning races. As far as certain races, I don't look at it that way. I just look forward to driving horses like Divas Image in the Matchmaker and stuff like that. Hopefully some horses come along for (trainer) Ronnie Burke that I'll be able to drive. I own a piece of one baby, a Chapter Seven filly, and she's going well so far. I'm hoping that works out and I can travel to the (New York) Sire Stakes with her. KW: What's her name? JB: Chapter Of Love. KW: You went to 17 different tracks last year. That's quite a few. JB: That's a lot of tracks. It was a busy schedule last year, but this is what I signed up for, this is what I enjoy doing. I really love working with the horses and I want to drive as many as I can. Ken Weingartner

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (February 10, 2017) - B Yoyo produced an "A-Plus" performance to pull off a minor harness racing upset in the $18,000 featured trot on Friday at the Meadowlands. Crosbys Clam Bake left for the lead while odds-on favorite Muscle Diamond was content to take back to last through an opening quarter mile in 27.2 and a half mile in 56.3. Past the half mile, B Yoyo and Joe Bongiorno pulled first over, giving Muscle Diamond and John Campbell a lively tow in the outer flow. As the field passed three-quarters in 1:25.3, B Yoyo powered to the lead as Crosbys Clam Bake backed up. Muscle Diamond came three-wide and began his charge after B Yoyo, but was unable to make up enough ground as B Yoyo scored in 1:53 at nearly 6-1 odds in the compact field of six. "The strategy was to get away close and sit close, but in the first turn I could see he felt way better than he has in prior starts and that's why I moved him first over," explained Bongiorno, who entered the week third in the Meadowlands driver standings. "He wasn't bumpy in the turns tonight and when he's like that he can trot with any horse." Opulent Yankee finished third with Classical Annie, Crosbys Clam Bake and War Cry Hall rounding out the order of finish. B Yoyo won for the 26th time in 122 career starts with earnings of $309,995 for owners Bill Lambos and Dionisios Liberatos. He is trained by Richie Johnson. Brett Miller scored a driving hat trick while Vinnie Ginsburg and trainer Jackie Greene combined for a pair of wins. Miller leads the driver standings with 76 wins. Total handle on the 11-race card was $2,171,919. Live racing resumes Saturday with a 12-race card. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (January 26, 2017) - The under-30 Meadowlands drivers stole the show on the first Thursday program of 2017. 20-somethings Drew Monti, Joe Bongiorno, and Marcus Miller combined to win five of the night's nine races with Monti and Bongiorno each winning two. The trio teamed up to sweep the final three races that were part of the debut episode of "Meadowlands Harness Live" that aired on SNY, the regional sports network home of the New York Mets and New York Jets. The show will air for the next six Thursdays on SNY at 9:30 p.m. Thursday's action was headlined by three divisions each in "Dash For G-Notes" series for conditioned trotters and $7,500 claiming pacers. The trotting winners were Bad Day Black Rock, Montalbano Bi, and Stonebridge Idol. The pacing winners were Whatagamble, Mr. Big Load, and May Day. Both series continue next Thursday with the top finishers from the two preliminary rounds advancing to the finals on February 9. Total handle on the nine-race card was $1,325,434. Live racing continues Friday night with a 7:15 p.m. post time. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. by Justin Horowitz, for the Meadowlands

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