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After a career-best 2019 that included winning his first Breeders Crown trophy, driver Joe Bongiorno hopes to add to his success in the championship event at Harrah's Hoosier Park this year. And he will have more opportunities than ever to try to accomplish that goal. The 27-year-old Bongiorno heads to this weekend's eliminations with eight drives, including with Little Brown Jug winner Captain Barbossa. Prior to this year, the most drives he ever had in a Breeders Crown was five, in his debut year in 2016 at The Meadowlands. He has driven a total of nine horses in the event, elims and finals combined. Bongiorno won his Crown last year in the Open Pace with American History, trained by Tony Alagna, at Woodbine Mohawk Park and finished his season with a career-best $5.89 million in purses. "It was unbelievable," Bongiorno said. "To win a Breeders Crown at the age of 26 is something special. It's something special at any time in your life, but to win it that early in my career, I'm just very thankful. "To have these opportunities this early in my career is not something I expected. I'm very grateful. This weekend with the Breeders Crown is a big opportunity and now I just have to try to make the most of it." Bongiorno drives in three Breeders Crown eliminations Saturday, with 3-year-old male pacers Captain Barbossa and Save Me A Dance, and 3-year-old male trotter Play Trix On Me. Captain Barbossa, who won the Little Brown Jug a month ago the day after Bongiorno's 27th birthday, is 4-1 on the morning line in his elim, which includes the sport's No. 1-ranked horse, Tall Dark Stranger, who is the 3-5 favorite. In his most recent start, Oct. 4 in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile, the Tony Alagna-trained Captain Barbossa finished second by a half-length to Tall Dark Stranger. He has one win in 14 races this season but has been no worse than second in his last five starts. "The horse raced unreal in the Little Brown Jug," Bongiorno said. "Then he came back in (1):48.3 at Lexington. He's definitely going to be fit. It's going to be 21 days from his last start, but Tony always has his horses ready to go. "This year being able to win the Jug for Tony, I can't thank him and his owners, his whole team, for the opportunities they've given me." Save Me A Dance, trained by Andrew Harris, is 10-1 in his elimination. It will be Bongiorno's first drive behind the colt, who spent most of the season on the New York circuit before heading to Red Mile for the recent Grand Circuit meet. He was third in a division of the Bluegrass and fourth in a division of the Tattersalls Pace. "He's been pacing hard to the wire in some big miles," Bongiorno said. "I think he's a nice colt. He just needs a little bit of luck." Play Trix On Me is 12-1 in his elimination, where he starts from post nine. Play Trix On Me, trained by Linda Toscano, is a two-time New Jersey Sire Stakes champion and finished second in the Canadian Trotting Classic in September. Bongiorno drove the colt for the first time Oct. 15 at Hoosier Park and won in 1:54.1 on a "good" track. "He was very good," Bongiorno said. "He had been off for three weeks and won as easily as a horse can do it. I look forward to racing him. The nine hole is not ideal, but it doesn't bother me. The horse has gate speed, and he can put himself in the race. I think he can go with them. If things work out, I think he has just as good a shot as anyone in that division. "He got a good run over Hoosier. Even though it's a big track, it's tighter turns than you would think, and the stretch is so long. It was good to see how he felt as far as being straight and shod properly for that track." In addition to his Breeders Crown drives Saturday, Bongiorno has five on Friday. Following are his thoughts on those eliminations. Exploit, a 2-year-old male pacer trained by Alagna, who is 12-1 in his elim. He counts the Metro Pace among three wins this year. "I've never raced him but, obviously, I've paid attention to what he's done," Bongiorno said. "He can do it either way, from up close or behind. He's got a quick turn of foot. I'm really looking forward to driving him. He's a really nice horse." Nashville Elgenna, a 2-year-old female pacer trained by Alagna and the first foal out of four-time Dan Patch Award winner Anndrovette. She is 2-for-2 this year and 9-2 in her elim. Bongiorno has driven her once. "I think that's a horse on the upswing and the sky is the limit," Bongiorno said. "She's been super impressive in her two lifetime starts and we really don't know what her bottom is. I expect her to keep getting better. She hasn't had to race against these top fillies yet, but I think she can hold her own. I was super impressed with her." Lady Lou, a 3-year-old female pacer trained by Alagna, who is 15-1 in her elim. She was second in the Fan Hanover Stakes and Shady Daisy. "I've never raced her," Bongiorno said. "There are a lot of really nice horses in that division. If she can put herself in the race, she's going to have a chance. She's been on the wire with some good horses before, so hopefully she can do it again." Hello I Love You, a 2-year-old female trotter trained by Alagna, who is 5-1 in her elim. She has two wins, including a division of the Bluegrass, and was second in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. "She is a really, really nice filly," Bongiorno said. "I've liked her since the first time I drove her; I thought she would win some big races this year. The first week of Lexington she was really good, as sharp as sharp could be. The second week, I came late first over with her. (Insta Glam) drifted out and allowed (Flawless Country) up the inside. If she doesn't get that clear run up the inside, I win the second week of Lexington with her too. "She was very impressive both weeks. I think if she's on her 'A' game both weeks, she's got as good a shot as anybody in that division." Ms Savannah Belle, a 3-year-old female trotter trained by Per Engblom, who is 9-2 in her elimination. She was a Breeders Crown elimination winner in 2019 (seventh in the final). Bongiorno drove her for the first time Oct. 11 in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, finishing fifth over a "good" Red Mile surface. "I had to go to the inside in the stretch and the track was deep there, more so than on the outside," Bongiorno said. "She raced even better than the line looks. She was very good, but I know that she's got more than that. She's handy, that's what I like about her. I think she's going to be really good." Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday and Saturday at Harrah's Hoosier Park. For Saturday's complete entries, click here. For Friday's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

Delaware, OH — Captain Barbossa found the perfect time to visit the winner’s circle for the first time this year, capturing Thursday’s $335,400 Little Brown Jug final for 3-year-old male pacers in 1:49.1 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. Cattlewash was second and Catch The Fire finished third. The win was Captain Barbossa’s first in 13 races this season. The gelding, who finished second in his Jug elimination, was driven to victory in the final by Joe Bongiorno, who celebrated his 27th birthday Wednesday. Captain Barbossa gave Bongiorno his first Jug trophy, as well as the first for trainer Tony Alagna. He paid $15.00 to win. Captain Barbossa, a son of Captaintreacherous out of Swinging Beauty, is owned by Robert LeBlanc, David Anderson, and the partnership of Alagna, Martha Frank, John Fodera, and Steven Wienick. He was bred by Steiner Stock Farm. His winning time was one-fifth of a second off the stakes and world record for a 3-year-old pacer on a half-mile track. The margin of victory was 1-1/2 lengths.   Catch The Fire, Sandbetweenmytoes win Little Brown Jug eliminations Catch The Fire won the first $111,800 elimination of the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers Thursday at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, overtaking pacesetter Seeyou At Thebeach on the last turn on his way to a 1:49.3 triumph. Seeyou At Thebeach was second, followed by Later Dudes and Genius Man. Those four horses advanced to the $335,400 Little Brown Jug final.   Catch The Fire was the 4-5 favorite in the field of seven. He was driven by Mike Wilder for trainer John Ackley and owner CT Stables. Sandbetweenmytoes scored a 7-1 upset in the second of Thursday’s two eliminations, using a three-wide move entering the last turn to get past leader Capt Midnight on his way to a 1:49.3 victory. Captain Barbossa finished second, with Capt Midnight third and Cattlewash fourth. Those four horses also advanced to the $335,400 Little Brown Jug final.   Sandbetweenmytoes was driven by Scott Zeron for trainer Jim Campbell and owner Fashion Farms. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Freehiold, NJ --- Saturday's harness racing Preferred Handicap pace at Freehold Raceway featured a perfect clash of names. Springsteen was competing for the first time at Freehold, located in Bruce Springsteen's hometown. His fiercest competition was Imarocnrollegend, which the human Springsteen certainly is.   Fittingly, the two hit the wire together, with Imarocnrollegend winning by a head.   Leaving from post three, Joe Bongiorno put Imarocnrollegend right on the early lead, while George Brennan was forced to take back with Springsteen from post eight. Brennan didn't sit for long, however, and rushed Springsteen up from last to first going up the backstretch the first time.   Around the final turn, Springsteen maintained a clear advantage, while Bongiorno sat patiently with Imarocnrollegend in the pocket. Heading into the stretch, Springsteen began to tire,after going the third quarter in a sharp 27.3 seconds. Bongiorno's horse began to make up ground on the inside, while Brennan was all out on Springsteen. In the end, Imarocnrollegend got the nod, stopping the clock in 1:53.2.   This marks the second week that Joe and Jenn Bongiorno won the Preferred pace, having scored with Hot Deuce last week. Jenn co-owns the horse with Robert Weinstein and Blair Corbeil.   That win was one of four for Joe on the Saturday card. He won race 1 on Albert a'Scootin, for trainer John Bavosi, race 2 with Brandon Mongiello's Power Dreaming, and the 8th race on Its Just Too Much, for Allie Reynolds.   Earlier in the day, Rockin the Gates scored a 26/1 upset in the New Jersey Sire Stakes- Standardbred Development Fund Final for 3-year-old pacing colts & geldings. He sat in the pocket early off leader Rock N Teen, then stormed on in the stretch to get up by a length. He went the mile in 1:54.4, for his first win of the year. Pat Berry was in the bike, for trainer Steve LeBlanc, who co-owns with Glenn Dyke and Doug Johnson.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday (September 25), starting at 12:30 PM.      

CHESTER, PA - The Deweycheatumnhowe mare Arabella's Cadet equaled the 1:52 Harrah's Philadelphia track record for older harness racing trotting mares established by Hannelore Hanover last year when she defeated the favorite Scirocco Rob in the $14,400 trotting feature on Thursday afternoon at the riverside oval. The top two finishers had shown excellent form recently; Scirocco Rob may have been installed the chalk because he had been able to control the pace in recent victories. It looked like that scenario might play out again as Scirocco Rob set the early fractions of :27 and :56, with Arabella's Cadet launching uncovered for the sixth straight time. Here driver Joe Bongiorno was able to get a giant backstretch burst (her own third split was :26.4) out of the mare that got her by the pacesetter to the 1:23.2 three-quarters, and though Scirocco Rob was rallying back inside in the lane, the "Cadet" withstood his comeback by a neck.   Arabella's Cadet, trained by Joe Bongiorno's sister Jennifer and owner by the partnership of Glenn Goller and Abraham Basen, has now won five times this year and seventeen times in fifty lifetime starts, and she now has a bankroll of $180,248 in addition to a new mark and a track record. Joe and Jennifer Bongiorno would later win with the veteran Muscle Mass gelding Rubber Duck, now with $609,074 in lifetime earnings, in an $11,600 trot. Rubber Duck went to the lead in front of the stands and, despite making his first start in six months, was able to motor home in :56 to complete a 1:53.2 tally for owners Blair and Emma Corbeil. In the $13,600 co-featured trot, Spee Club was able to control the throttle from the rail and go on to a nose victory over favored Grapple Hanover in 1:55.4, with Yankees Beast third and Lucky Mae Hanover fourth, both only a half-length behind the winner. Corey Callahan kept the son of Cantab Hall ahead in the tight fight to notch the triumph for owner/trainer Dawn Erin Neilson. The meet's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., reported home first four times on the Thursday card. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER, PA - Joe Bongiorno became one of the youngest harness racing drivers to achieve 2,000 career victories when the 26-year-old sent developing force Nicholas Beach to the lead and just kept pouring it on, winning in a lifetime best 1:49 in the $11,200 featured pace Friday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. Bongiorno had his first 100+ winner year in 2012 at age 18 and has not left that club since, peaking with 399 sulky triumphs in 2016. The horses he has driven have earned over $25.2 million, $5.9 million of that last season. Much of his success can be attributed to his relationship with two different trainers - perennial leader Ron Burke, and his sister Jennifer, for whom he handled Nicholas Beach. Joe Bongiorno is already a star; Nicholas Beach may not be far behind him. He had a win and a place as a two-year-old, then missed all of 2019. But he's rapidly making up for lost time, perfect in four starts this year, and in Joe's historic victory the Somebeachsomewhere gelding thundered home in :53.3.   A downpour started minutes before the $11,200 trotting feature, turning the track to "sloppy." The off conditions probably helped cause several contenders to go offstride, but Tim Tetrick dexterously steered the Explosive Matter filly Moondust through the confusion to win in a career best 1:58 and pay $70.60 to win. Marc Mosher trains the winner for owner Jaypaul Hoover. Todd McCarthy, a member of the Australian driving dynasty and already a participant in a World Driving Championship, opened his U.S. win account by guiding Soho Wallstreet A to a 1:51.2 victory for trainer Tom Shay and owner Howard Taylor. The 27-year-old son of Aussie legend John and brother of top drivers Luke (Down Under) and Andrew (North America), Todd showed both aggressiveness and patience, moving his horse to the lead early, letting the first-over horse go past down the backstretch, but keeping his equine "fellow countryman" up on the bit and able to come back for the victory. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia      

Hightstown, NJ — The $1.1-million harness racing yearling is now the 1-for-1 racehorse. Maverick, a trotting colt who last fall became the highest-priced yearling in harness racing history, won his career debut Monday at Lexington’s Red Mile, capturing a $5,000 event for 2-year-olds by 1-1/2 lengths over Tangled Love in 1:57.2. Immigrant AM S was third. Joe Bongiorno drove Maverick for trainer Tony Alagna and owner Maverick Racing. Immigrant AM S led the field to the opening quarter in :29.2. Maverick was third, but already on his way to take over the lead, which he did prior to reaching the half in :58.3. The colt remained on top from there, hitting three-quarters in 1:28.4 before coming home with a :28.3 final quarter. Maverick was the 2-1 second choice behind 4-5 favorite Argyle, who finished fourth. “He looked well within himself,” said Brad Grant, one of the owners in the Maverick Racing group. “I haven’t talked to Tony, but you’re always pleased when in their first start they get a win. I thought Joey did a great job driving him and being safe with him. We sure can’t complain. We’ll see how he came out of it and what Tony has to say.” “I’m very happy with his first start,” Alagna told harnessracing.com shortly afterward. “Maverick was comfortable and strong through the wire. Joe was very impressed with him.” Maverick, by Father Patrick out of Designed To Be, is a full brother to 2019 Trotter of the Year Greenshoe. He was bred by Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz, who also are members of the ownership group. Maverick’s purchase price at the Lexington Selected Sale eclipsed the previous record of $825,000 for trotting colt Detour Hanover at the 2011 Standardbred Horse Sale. “You try to treat (Maverick’s first start) the same as every other race and every other race day,” Grant said. “There’s no pressure on anybody, you just find out how he races.” by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

PACER OF THE WEEK: ANOTHER DAILY COPY On July 4, this seven-year-old gelding trained by Richard Johnson put up a fantastic effort to win a $10,000 condition pace at Pocono, overcoming the #9 post to go gate to wire in 1:50. He followed that up with a 4th at The Meadowlands in a very fast pace on July 18. On Saturday afternoon, he was back at it in the $10,000 condition group at Pocono, this time leaving from the inside post in a field of nine as a 1-5 favorite. Driver George Napolitano Jr. essentially cut Another Daily Copy loose on the front end of this mile, building a big lead. The gelding finished well ahead of second-place Rock The Town for a romping win. And the winning time of 1:48:4 for Another Daily Copy was not only a new career-best, but was also the fastest time of the 2020 Pocono meet to this point. Honorable Mention: Respect Our Flag (Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno), who moved up in class on Saturday night to pick up his second straight condition win on Saturday, this time in 1:49:4. Marsala Hanover (Jason Bartlett, Linda Toscano), who rolled to the fastest winning time among four Pennsylvania All-Stars races for two-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday with a victory in 1:52:1. Jereme's General (Anthony Napolitano, Darren Taneyhill), whose claiming handicap victory on Saturday in 1:51 gave wins in two of his last three starts. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MISS MCKEE The Pennsylvania All-Stars for three-year-old trotting fillies were held on Saturday at Pocono, with four $30,000 divisions taking place. In the last of those divisions, Miss McKee, who had already racked up two wins this summer at Pocono and was coming off a Stallion Series victory at Harrah's, went off as the 2-1 second choice in a field of eight. She won an early speed duel with Fifty Cent Piece, securing the lead around the first turn. Her biggest foe on the back stretch was Crucial, the race favorite who came at her first-over. But driver George Napolitano Jr. kept coaxing more from the filly, who fought off everybody to win by three-quarters of a length over Crucial. Miss McKee's winning time of 1:53 was a new career mark and also the fastest of the winning times among the All-Stars races. Honorable Mention: Amigo Volo (Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman), who churned out the fastest winning time in two Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Sunday, getting it done in a career-best 1:52. Dune Hill (George Brennan, Ron Burke), who followed up a Stallion Series win at Harrah's with an All-Stars victory at Pocono on Saturday in 1:55. Fashion Charmer (Matt Kakaley, Jim Campbell), a filly who followed up ger maiden victory with another condition win on Tuesday, this one coming in a career-best 1:55. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FAILSAFE Staging a furious rally, this trotter picked up a condition win on Monday with Anthony Napolitano in the bike at 46-1, paying $94.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE BONGIORNO Bongiorno made the most of his appearance on Saturday afternoon by winning three times, including a pair of Pennsylvania All-Stars races. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE When there are stakes races at Pocono, it's a good bet that the Burke barn is involved, as evidenced by four stakes victories for the trainer on Saturday and Sunday. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs            

Freehold, NJ --- A field of seven filly and mare harness racing pacers has been assembled for the featured race on Friday afternoon (March 6) at Freehold Raceway, the Fillies & Mares Preferred Handicap. It's scheduled as the 6th race, with a post time of 2:10 PM EST.   Faithful Desire, from the barn of Robert Bongiorno, is the likely favorite. She won a NW $15,000 pace at Yonkers Raceway back on February 14, pacing the mile in a sharp 1:54.4. She finished fourth and fifth in her two most recent tries at the level. This will mark her first start at Freehold since January 19, when she won this class. Joe Bongiorno will drive.   When Sharks Fly, from post position six, figures to be the most formidable opponent. She won two races in a row earlier in the meet, and was most recently second in a NW $6,000 pace back on February 28. Jim Marshall III will drive for trainer Donna Marshall.   Fear My Shadow, Last Flight In, Askmysecretary, Sue's Night Out, and Bronskimackenzie complete the septet. The latter two have also won at Freehold this year, and will seek to bounce back off seventh and sixth-place finishes, respectively, behind When Sharks Fly last out.   The first of ten races at Freehold on Friday will be at 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway  

Freehold, NJ ---Saturday's featured race at Freehold Raceway is a $14,000 Invitational Handicap pace, with a full field of eight signed on. The race features an interesting harness racing matchup: Freehold veteran Lyons Steel against up-and-comer Rollwithpapajoe.   Rollwithpapajoe will make his 4-year-old debut on Saturday afternoon, for trainer Jenn Bongiorno. As a 3-year-old, the bay gelding won three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes, before finishing third in the final at Batavia Downs on September 14. He wrapped up his sophomore campaign with a win in the Simpson at Harrah's Philadelphia on September 21. To prep for his return, he qualified at Freehold last week, pacing a mile in 1:53.3. Joe Bongiorno will drive from the outside post position.   Lyons Steel was dominant two races back at Freehold, effortlessly winning the Preferred Handicap pace in 1:53.3, in his second start off the layoff. He'll seek a rebound off a dull try at the Meadowlands last out. Pat Lachance is in the bike from post position seven, for trainer Dennis Watson,   Two other recent Preferred winners will do battle here. Lucan Hanover won the Preferred in January 4, back when he was int he care of Nick Surick. Since being claimed by Eric Ell on February 1, he's had a fourth place and a sixth place at the Meadowlands to his credit. He'll seek improvement in his return to Freehold, where he's won four times from six tries. Pat Berry drives from post position four.   Shneonucrzydiamnd A was impressive in victory back on January 25, taking the Preferred by two lengths in 1:53.2. He was pulled up last out at Yonkers Raceway on February 8, and qualified in 1:54.3 at Freehold last Friday. Eric Goodell has been named to drive from post position six, for trainer Ross Croghan.   Art Scene, Ozone Blue Chip, Newbie, and Soho Lennon A complete the field. The race will go as the ninth race on the 13-race Saturday program, with a post time scheduled for 3:10 PM EST.   Racing at Freehold on Saturday will begin at approximately 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway  

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 --- Inukchuk Chuck began his 2020 harness racing season the same way he ended his 2019 campaign: with a win in the Freehold Raceway Preferred trot. He scored in Friday's feature race by 3 1/4 lengths, stopping the clock in 1:58 over a sloppy track.   Just like last week, driver Joe Bongiorno blasted him to the lead and cleared as soon as he could. The early tempo was slow: the quarter went in 29.2, while the half mile fraction was 59.3. Favored Money Maven moved first over just before the half, and applied serious pressure to "Chuck" as they neared three-quarters. However, the leader easily dismissed the challenge and pulled away down the stretch for a convincing victory.     The winner is owned by Cliff Grundy and trained by Nick Surick. He won eleven times in 2019, while earning more than $63,000. For his career, he's accrued 22 victories, and earned more than $230,000.   Abbie's Celticlass got up for second over Money Maven at 10/1. Caviar Star, River Otter, Mugshot Jess, Barney Mac, and Boots N Chains rounded out the order of finish.   Live racing continues at Freehold on Saturday, with a 10-race program beginning at 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway  

Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway will host 10 races this Saturday (January 4), with a 7-horse Preferred Handicap harness racing pace serving as the headliner.   The winners of the past two Preferreds are back for more: The Onlyest One and Exit Cam. The former took the Preferred on December 21, then won by a nose last week for a $20,000 tag. He's finished first or second in three of his last four starts. Joe Bongiorno will steer from post position four for trainer Nick Surick.   Exit Cam has also won two in a row, most recently scoring in the Preferred by a neck last week at 15/1. He was assigned post position six for trainer Karen Garland and driver Steve Smith.   The Onlyest One is one of two in the race for Surick. The other, Lucan Hanover, has been in fine form since coming to Freehold. In four starts at this track, he's won twice, and hit the board the other two times. Most recently, he finished third in the Preferred after leading most of the way. Andy Miller was named to drive, from post position five.   Statement Made, from post position seven, is the likely favorite. He's coming off a fifth-place finish in the Preferred at the Meadowlands. Two starts back, he won an upper-condition pace at Harrah's Philadelphia, pacing the mile in a sharp 1:51. For the first time, Jim Marohn Jr. will drive, for trainer Tahnee Camilleri,   Polak, Ozone Blue Chip, and Mako Banner round out the field.   The contest is scheduled as Saturday's 7th race, with a listed post time of 2;50 PM EST. The first race at Freehold on Saturday is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway

Freehold, NJ --- A field of eight has signed up to do battle in Freehold Raceway's first Preferred Handicap harness racing trot of the year this Friday (January 3). The headliners are the top two finishers from last week's Preferred, Inukchuk Chuck and Money Maven.   "Chuck" won at the level last week, blasting off from post position three and cruising to a 3 1/2 length win in 1:57. Two weeks ago, he finished third in the Preferred. He was assigned post position seven this week, as he seeks to turn in another strong performance in Freehold's top class. Joe Bongiorno retains the drive for trainer Nick Surick.   Money Maven was assigned directly to his outside, off a runner-up finish at the class last week. Sent off as the 4/5 favorite, he was wide most of the way, but still rallied well for second, one length clear of third. Andy Miller will drive for his wife, Julie.   Taylor Gower will send out two entrants: Mugshot Jess and Boots N Chains. "Jess" is known as a lover of Freehold; all five of his 2019 wins came at that track, including three Preferred victories. He'll leave from post position two. Boots N Chains was most recently sixth in the Preferred, a race where he had a difficult outside grind. Patt Berry will steer from post position four.   Caviar Star, River Otter, Abbie's Celticlass, and Barney Mac complete the ensemble. The race is scheduled as the seventh race on the nine-race program.   The first of those nine races at Freehold on Friday will be at 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway      

Freehoild, NJ --- Inukchuk Chuck stole the Preferred Handicap harness racing trot at Freehold Raceway on Friday (December 27), winning it with a gate-to-wire trip.   Leaving from post position three, driver Joe Bongiorno put his drive on the front end, setting a moderate early tempo. Heading up the backstretch the final time, he was met with pressure from Hashtagmadeyalook, along with favored Money Maven. Although the latter drew close on the final turn, "Chuck" was unfazed, and drew off to a 3 1/2 length win. He went the mile in 1:57.   That was the eleventh win of 2019 for Inukchuk Chuck, most of which have come in amateur driver races. His earnings for the year total $63,248. He was third in the Preferred last week, but with a front-running trip, he was able to find his way to the winner's circle. He's owned by Cliff Grundy and trained by Nick Surick.   The Preferred was one of four wins for Bongiorno on the Friday program. He won race 2 with R Sam, race 3 driving Northern Credit, and race 5 with Major Frost. That gives him 82 wins at Freehold on the calendar year, and 37 at the current fall/winter stand.   Live racing continues at Freehold on Saturday (December 28), 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  

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