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East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands racetrack was abuzz this morning as some of the top older horses and three-year-olds were prepping for upcoming stakes. A dozen qualifiers began at 9:30 on a dry track under clear skies with little wind and the temperature in the 50's.   A number of Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff eligibles used today's qualifiers to prep for next Sunday's stake and JL Cruze made a strong case for his chances, sprinting clear of a good field by several lengths off the last turn then coasting late in 1:53/:27.   Crazy Wow left for the lead, released JL Cruze approaching the half and was second best while Pinkman made late gains to be third. Eric Ell conditions the winner for owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar, Jr and Steve Iaquinta.   DW's NY Yank is another eligible that impressed with an easy 1:53.2/:27.3 win for Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke. Canepa Hanover got another good work in on his return to the races and was a comfortable second while Jewels In Hock and Crazshana also went well and were together at the wire. Burke Racing owns the winner in partnership with Howard Taylor and Weaver Bruscemi.   Be advised that there will be no live racing at The Meadowlands on Friday, May 6. There will be a live card on Sunday, May 8 a Mother's Day matinee card with post time at 12:40 p.m. The first race on that Mother's Day card will be the $150,000e Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff.   Radiant Beam won the day's opener for Andy and Julie Miller in 1:56/:28.2 after a pocket ride behind Dizzy Broad. Hollywood Hill split horses to gain the place while Dizzy Broad tired a bit though held third. Jason and Ronald Allen own the winner.   Several of 2015's finest two-year-old trotting fillies gathered for the second race and Caprice Hill was the winner in 1:53/:28 for Tim Tetrick. She sat a pocket behind the anxious Black Broadway who rattled off fast fractions, went by quickly and finished willingly in the fast mile. Last season's Dan Patch award winner, All The Time, made good gains late to be just a neck back in second, a useful first seasonal effort and Womans Will was a good third in her first go. Tony Alagna trains Caprice Hill for owner Tom Hill.   Southwind Flash (Y. Gingras/R. Burke) and Free Willy Hanover (T. Smedshammer) went under the wire together after a stretch-long duel finishing the 1:56.3 mile with a 27.4 final quarter in race four.   Lagerfeld won his second qualifier in 1:56/:28.1 with a strong rally from a stalking position for Gingras. He rode along in third as The Perfect Lindy set the fractions, fanned out and went by with no encouragement needed from the driver. Bar Hopping impressed in his first outing, closing strongly to be second for John Campbell and The Perfect Lindy held for third. Jimmy Takter trains Lagerfeld for his wife Christina, Herb Liverman and the Fieldings, John & Jim.   After the break sophomore colt trotters resumed the program with Make Or Miss looking very strong in his first outing of the season. Held in third by driver Joe Bongiorno early as Brooklyn Hill set a faster clip than David Miller would have liked, Make Or Miss was fanned wide in the stretch and went by under his own power in 1:54.2/:28. Brooklyn Hill held up well for second with Milligan's School and Love Matters both making a good appearance in their seasonal bow. Division leader Southwind Frank was programmed for this qualifier but did not race due to what's being reported as a quarter crack issue.   Pacers came up in race nine and a good group of sophomore colts and geldings finished across the track in a line with Voracity and Ideal Rocky together in advance of the six-pack. The mile was 1:52.3 with a 26.4 final quarter. Voracity is on his way to Ontario for trainer Alagna who owns the colt in partnership with Brad Grant and John Fodera while Ideal Rocky is prepping for the New Jersey Sires Stakes for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Eugene Schick.   Mindtrip went a good mile this morning, taking over near the half then winning as driver Yannick Gingras pleased in 1:52.4/:27.1. Tap Into Power closed nicely for second and Highlandbeachycove was an even third, while racing a bit greenly when shown racetrack. Mindtrip hails from the Alagna barn and is owned by the trainer in partnership with Crawford Racing, Sbrocco, Fodera and Massey.   American Ivy was a winner this morning in 1:52.4/:27.1 for Andy and Julie Miller. She sat second as Blue Moon Stride cut the mile then edged by that one late while staving off the rail rally by Three Dreams. Joe P Racing is the owner.   Mcwicked closed out the day with a 1:50.4/:26.2 win for Scott Zeron. Mcwicked zipped to the lead early, yielded to In The Arsenal for the middle half then took the rail route back by that rival for the win. In The Arsenal went well in his first qualifier, a solid second. Steve Elliott now trains Mcwicked for the SSG Stables.   The final of the World Harness Handicapping Challenge is tonight, call Rachel Ryan if you want in. Post time for the live card tonight is 7:15 p.m.   From the Meadowlands Media Department

Ron Burke trainees Sayitall BB and Its Huw You Know swept Friday (March 25) evening's co-featured harness racing $15,000 events at The Meadowlands, and the 50¢ Pick 5 went without a five-of-five winner, prompting a carryover in excess of $31,000 to Saturday's card. The featured top-level distaff pace, carded as the sixth event, saw Sayitall BB ($3.80) make good at odds-on, dueling clear and edging away late for a 1:52.4 score. The 5-year-old Tell All mare scored her 20th career win in front-end fashion, turning in a virtual carbon copy to her victory two weeks prior. Joe Bongiorno put Sayitall BB in play from the outset, dueling clear of Clear View Hanover (David Miller) through a :27.2 initial quarter. While Sayitall BB saw no pressure through a :57 middle half, Do Your Job (Jim Marohn, Jr.) sustained a first-over push on the far turn to claim second from a laboring Clear View Hanover. Meanwhile, Sayitall BB was driven clear to a three-length advantage off the corner, kept to task the length of the stretch to hold sway by 1-3/4 lengths. Purity (Vinny Ginsburg), sent off at 16-1, emerged from traffic to just nab the staying Do Your Job for second. Just 20 minutes later, Its Huw You Know ($6.40) emerged late to capture the $15,000 seventh-race trot. David Miller sent the 4-year-old Holiday Road gelding to a clear lead, but yielded to Saratoga invader Newcastle (Brett Miller) after a :28 first quarter. Its Huw You Know would enjoy a cozy pocket ride behind Newcastle, who faced pressure from the first-over B Yoyo (Bongiorno) through middle splits of :56.3 and 1:24.4. Its Huw You Know found a clear lane up the pegs at the eighth pole when Newcastle broke, accelerating to the fore the instant room availed. The 9-time winner held sway by a long half length, staving off a resurgent Scorcher Hall (Marcus Miller)--who gapped the third-quarter duel before finding more--and a late-rallying You're Majestic (Scott Zeron) in 1:54. The Burke Racing Stable, Mark Weaver, and Mike Bruscemi share ownership of Sayitall BB and Its Huw You Know. Brett Miller and Andy McCarthy led all drivers on the night with two wins each. Total handle for the 12-race card was $2,871,616, marking an increase of $262,507 over the corresponding Friday in March of 2015. Saturday (March 26) evening's first of 12 races is due off at 7:15 p.m. EDT. The 50¢ Pick 5 spanning the first five races boasts a $31,206 carryover and a guaranteed pool elevated to $75,000. Both 20¢ Jackpot High 5 wagers carry over as well, with the fifth race bolstered by $11,033 in added money and the finale by $154,428 should either pool be captured by a lone winning ticket. PICK 5 CARRYOVER INTO SATURDAY’S CARD AT THE MEADOWLANDS                                                                                   After a series of longshots to kick off the Friday night card, there were no winning tickets in the Pick Five, creating a carryover of $31,206 heading into Saturday night’s card. The Pick Five pool will be guaranteed at $75,000 providing horse players with even more incentive to take a swing at the wager. The Pick Five begins on Race 1 with a post time of 7:15 p.m. The wager offers a 50-cent base wager. Free program pages will be available on the Meadowlands website courtesy of TrackMaster. The last time the Meadowlands had a Pick Five carryover was on Friday, February 5. A carryover of $18,653 was the catalyst for more than $140,000 in new money wagered. One lucky horse player cashed that night for $109,966. The Meadowlands routinely offers the largest wagering pools in harness racing and will offer a total of $150,000 in guaranteed pools on Saturday. In addition to the $75,000 in the Pick Five, the Early Pick Four (Races 3-6) is guaranteed at $25,000 and the Late Pick Four (Races 7-10) pool is guaranteed at $50,000. For more information, visit by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations  

Put your mind to it, and it’s not hard to imagine that you could become one of America’s most successful stockbrokers or luxury car salesmen. But at three different brokerage firms or dealerships . . . at the same time? He’s not touting pork belly futures or a showroom of $750,000 Italian sports car whose name you can’t even pronounce, but Joe Bongiorno, the latest darling of the Northfield Park harness racing drivers’ lounge, is a genuine triple threat. Through Sunday, Mar. 20, Bongiorno, at the very tender age of 22, is currently listed among the top four drivers at not only Northfield, but also at Freehold and The Meadowlands, two tracks in New Jersey. At Northfield, his 57 winners rank him 4th. At Freehold, his 45 winners have him in second place. At the Meadowlands, his 23 winners ranks him fourth against an all star roster of reinsmen.            Bongiorno’s hectic sulky schedule adds up to a lofty spot on the list of North America’s winingest drivers for 2016. His 125 victories place him fifth. There are two familiar names that he’s chasing – Northfield’s Aaron Merriman (1st) and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. (fourth).              Hectic might be understating Bongiorno’s weekly work schedule. A resident of Colts Neck, N.J,, Bongiorno starts with a seven-hour drive on Monday morning from home to Northfield where he drives in all or certainly the majority of the 15 scheduled races.            Bongiorno drives in another 12 to 15 races on Tuesday at Northfield, then after two nights in an area hotel, heads back to New Jersey on Wednesday morning for one of his two days of rest and relaxation.            Thursday through Saturday find him performing double-duty, driving at Freehold in the afternoon, which is 15 minutes from his home, then speeding off for an evening of driving at The Meadowlands, which is less than an hour from home.   Bongiorno didn’t start driving at Northfield until January 11, but quickly made a major splash when he steered seven horses to the winner’s circle on Mar. 7, a career high for victories.            “I love it here,” said Bongiorno. “The people are great and winning certainly makes it fun. The track surface is very unique. You can win on the front end or come from behind. Horses here, because of the banking, can live (be competitive) on the outside”.   Bongiorno has the pedigree to be as good as he is. His grandfather was Harold “Sonny” Dancer (who died earlier this month), a trainer-driver who developed world Champion Ricci Reenie Time. Stanley and Vernon Dancer, two of his great-uncles, are Members of harness racing’s Hall of Fame.            Stanley Dancer is considered by many to be the Babe Ruth of standardbred racing. Like his great grandson, Dancer began his career at Freehold. He drove the winner of three Triple Crowns and seven times developed and drove the Horse of the Year.            “I know I’m lucky to be where I am at my age,” said Bongiorno. “Maybe there is something to racing being in my blood. I know I’m very comfortable in the sulky. I really felt that way from the first time I jogged a horse. I was 14.” Bongiorno was at Freehold on Mar. 10 when the track paid tribute to his grandfather. The body of Sonny Dancer took one last lap around the track in a funeral carriage before he was buried in a nearby cemetery. “It was very moving,” said Bongiorno. “It made me think about who I was and where my family roots are.” Bongiorno is the son of Robert Bongiorno, a former trainer who remains in the game as an owner. His mother is the former Barbara Dancer. He began driving professionally in 2011 at age 18. It was during senior year of high school and he scored his first winner at Freehold on longshot Mr. Bennett on Oct. 1. “I love baseball and played as a freshman, but when I got serious about harness racing, that was it. I would go to classes in the morning and then drive at Freehold in the afternoon. The track was only 10 minutes from my school.” His fondness for baseball led to an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. “I was around 14 and got to fill in three of four times as New York Yankee batboy,” said Bongiorno. “Got to have lunch and dinner in the clubhouse with Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Mariano Rivera. I got lots of autographs.”  At the rate he’s visiting the winner’s circle, Bongiorno will be signing his name for a growing club of fans. By Northfield Park Publicity Department

The Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi's Sayitall BB ($5.80) made all the pace in Friday (March 11) evening's featured $13,000 distaff pace at The Meadowlands, earning her first win of 2016 in 1:51.2 over fast going in the night's 11th event. Also, for the 11th time in 12 programs, harness racing punters wagered over $3 million on races contested at the Big M.   Joe Bongiorno sent the 5-year-old Tell All mare to a clear lead, setting uncontested fractions of :27.1, :55.4, and 1:24 with Clear View Hanover (Tim Tetrick) drafting throughout. As the first-over Not Before Eight (Anthony Napolitano) worked into a joint second a quarter from home, Sayitall BB began to edge clear of her rivals, opening up on first asking from Bongiorno. The Ron Burke trainee held clear up to the post, kept to task through all but the last 40 yards for her 19th career win. Clear View Hanover was driven out to hold second from the pocket, while Cherry Bliss (John Campbell) found room up the pegs in mid-stretch to rally for third.   In co-featured $12,500 trotting events, Magenta Man ($6.80) and Mr Lover ($2.60) prevailed, employing different tactics en route to the winner's enclosure.   Magenta Man, now a winner in four of his last six races, made two early moves in the evening's fourth event to protect the lead through a :56.1 initial half, holding off pressure from Detroit Rapper on the far turn before ultimately staving off a late charge from the third-over World Cup in 1:53.4, his fastest career victory. Andy Miller drove the 4-year-old Muscles Yankee gelding for trainer Julie Miller.   In the seventh event, Mr Lover lost early position due to an early break, but made amends off second-over spotting to just collar T Js Mr Lavec. Tim Tetrick angled the 5-year-old Deweycheatumnhowe gelding second-over behind Jackie Goldstein after a soft :57.3 half, pouncing three-wide at the top of the stretch as pacesetter T Js Mr Lavec worked to fend off Jackie Goldstein. Still, the pressure was enough to soften T Js Mr Lavec, as Mr Lover managed to just prevail in 1:55.2 for trainer Jenny Melander.   In the season's first GSY Amateur event, 2015 Amateur Driver of the Year Hannah Miller prevailed with Jacks to Open ($13.20) in 1:58, sustaining a first-over push to a mid-stretch lead before holding off the late-charging Tropical Storm Bi (Tony Ciuffetelli).   Total handle for the 13-race card was $3,030,537, marking a $424,087 increase over the corresponding Friday program in 2015 and the 11th instance in 12 programs where total betting turnover on Meadowlands races topped $3 million.   Tomorrow evening's 13-race program features $105,000 in guaranteed Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools, and the closing-race 20¢ Jackpot High 5 will boast a carryover of $128,881. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

Joe Bongiorno is sitting behind more horses than ever this year, which has the 22-year-old driver sitting on a breakout season. Bongiorno, who entered Thursday ranked fifth in wins among all harness racing drivers in North America, is on pace to shatter his career highs for starts, victories, and purses. Bongiorno has visited the winner’s circle 104 times this year, which puts him only 88 victories shy of the career-best 192 he posted in 2015. He is on pace for 560 wins and $2.94 million in purses. His previous high for earnings, also established last year, is $1.97 million. In addition, the New Jersey native sits among the top five drivers in wins at three different racetracks -- Freehold and the Meadowlands in his home state, plus Northfield Park in Ohio. “It’s been an excellent start to the year,” Bongiorno said. “I’ve just been driving quality horses. I’m traveling a lot, just trying to sit behind as many horses as I possibly can. It’s a struggle at times. Traveling is exhausting and takes a toll on your body, but it’s worth it, a hundred percent. When you’re racking up wins, it’s exciting. “I’m very fortunate to drive for a number of great trainers and I’m getting a lot of very good mounts now. I didn’t expect to get off to such a great start this year. I expected to do well, but not as well as I’m doing. But I also didn’t expect to be going to Northfield. That was a last-minute thing and so far it’s paying off very well.” 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. He is the grandson of horseman Harold “Sonny” Dancer, who passed away earlier this week, and joined his parents, Barbara and Bob, in getting involved in harness racing. He has won 775 races in his career and $5.95 million in purses. This year, Bongiorno is second in wins at Freehold, tied for fourth at the Meadowlands, and fifth at Northfield Park. His 26.4 win percentage at Freehold leads all regulars and his 22.5 win percentage at Northfield trails only Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Aaron Merriman. “I just try to improve each year,” Bongiorno said. “When I was first starting out, I wasn’t as patient as I should have been. Over the years, I’ve become a lot calmer. That’s what I’ve learned the most. “It’s not that you’re young, it’s that you’re not driving many horses. When you’re only driving two races on a card, you’re pressing to do good and impress people. That’s when you make mistakes. You have to race horses the way they like to be raced.” Bongiorno’s career highlight so far came just last November when he won, in a dead heat, the $489,400 Valley Victory Stakes for 2-year-old trotters with Make Or Miss for trainer Ron Burke. It was Bongiorno’s first drive in a race worth more than $150,000. “It was something you couldn’t dream of,” Bongiorno said. “I got lucky to pick the drive up; it was like a last-second thing. I fell into the right place at the right time and it just worked out for me.” On Saturday night, Bongiorno will drive millionaire pacer Bettor’s Edge in the Open Handicap at the Meadowlands. It will be the Burke-trained 7-year-old gelding’s seasonal debut. Bongiorno drove Bettor’s Edge four times last year, with the results including a win in a conditioned race at the Meadowlands and a third-place finish in the American-National Stakes at Balmoral Park. “It seems like he came back excellent,” Bongiorno said about Bettor’s Edge. “I was very impressed with his last qualifier. That was the best he’s ever been since I’ve sat behind him. He seemed super sound and steered great. I love the horse. He’s always tried his hardest for me. He’s just a very, very nice horse.” Bongiorno is hoping to continue his strong season, but not looking too far ahead. “I take it slow,” Bongiorno said. “I try to drive every race the same. I don’t really panic over if it’s a bigger race, or just a regular claiming race. It’s all the same and you just try to stay calm and poised, that’s it. I’m going to give a horse the best shot they’ve got to win. I’ll put horses in play and try to get them up close and hopefully it works out. “But as good as the year has started out it definitely could be a breakout year. Hopefully, I keep getting opportunities and the results are there.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

In recent weeks, local standouts Dovuto Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist made their seasonal debuts at The Meadowlands, showing no lack of late staying power in upper-level harness racing events. On Saturday (March 5) night, not only do they both rise to Open company, but they square off against a pair of Ron Burke trainees in Dynamic Youth and Take It Back Terry--both of which come off the bench to kick off their 2016 seasons in the evening's $25,000 feature.   Millionaire Dynamic Youth, a 29-time winner, returns off a lone qualifier after spending last fall racing in Open events throughout the Mid-Atlantic with varying success. Andy Miller drives the 7-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding from post 5. Burke stablemate Take It Back Terry will start right alongside in post 6, likewise coming back off a lone qualifier after winning five of his last seven Open attempts at Yonkers last fall. Joe Bongiorno handles the driving duties on the 7-year-old Western Terror gelding, as he did in last week's qualifier.   The Burke duo are not likely to have an easy time of it on debut, though, as 5/2 morning line favorite Rockeyed Optimist (post 7) rises off a powerful four-length win in an upper-level event two weeks ago. In both his seasonal starts--that win and a near miss on debut two weeks prior--the 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding sprinted home with final quarters faster than :27. Andy McCarthy takes the lines for trainer Steve Elliott. Likewise, Dovuto Hanover (post 2, 5/1) is sharpening up, having made significant ground up the pegs in his seasonal debut last week. Scott Zeron opted to drive the Nifty Norman-trained 6-year-old over two other nominations in the field.   Lucrative opportunities await punters throughout the 13-race card, including the usual Pick 5 (beginning in race 3) and Pick 4s (races 5 and 9) with their combined $105,000 in guaranteed pools. Additionally, two 20¢ Jackpot High 5 wagers await players in the seventh and final races--the latter currently boasting a carryover in excess of $116,000 in advance of Friday's card.   Post time is slated for 6:35 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

Post Time with Mike and Mike has an action packed harness racing show coming up on Thursday at 1:00! Joining the program this week is Joe Bongiorno one of the up and coming harness racing drivers in the business. Joe has recently been driving at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment and at Northfield Park on Mondays and Tuesdays. We will discuss his 2015 success and what Joe looks forward too in 2016. Wendy Ross will join the show to talk about her career and how she got into harness racing. Wendy has been a prominent face on the Meadowlands broadcast as well as the Little Brown Jug simulcast show. Shannon "Sugar" Doyle, the track announcer at Western Fair in London, Ontario will join as well to discuss his career and how he got into announcing. We will talk with Sugar about the 2015 O' Brien Horse of the Year State Treasurer as well. Winnie Morgan Nemeth will also be joining us in the fourth of a four-part series to talk about New Vocations, and how it works. Post Time with Mike and Mike will also be making an announcement about the Prix de France featuring Bold Eagle's attempt at the Triple Crown on February 28th. Post Time with Mike and Mike is harness racing's newest podcast co-hosted by track announcers Mike Bozich and Mike Carter. The show's focus is to positively promote harness racing. Every hoof that hits the racetrack, whether a claimer or a stakes horse, has a story to tell, and they plan on telling those stories. Log on to to listen. If you miss the show live, you can listen on-demand at any time. You can also follow the show on social media. Like them on Facebook at Post Time with Mike and Mike, and follow them on Twitter @ptmikeandmike1. By Michael Carter  

The 15-race Saturday card at The Meadowlands produced a total handle of $3,775,943, an increase of $1,178,455 over the 13-race harness racing card on this same night in 2015, or 45-percent. The per-race handle of $251,729 was a 26-percent increase over the $199,806 per-race handle on this night in 2015. In addition, on-track handle nearly doubled, increasing 95-percent from $209,066 to $407,897 and the per-race on-track handle increased 69-percent as well. The total handle of $3,775,943 was the third highest-handling program since the Breeders Crown of 2014, trailing only Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian Day of 2015. Bushwacker Ships and Scores at The Meadowlands Coming into the $25,000 Open Handicap on Saturday night at The Meadowlands, Bushwacker's Meadowlands resume was short and select. He sported just seven starts at the East Rutherford oval, with five of the seven races coming in stakes events. While Bushwacker had never won at The Meadowlands, he is stakes-placed in races like The Graduate and New Jersey Classic. On Saturday night, he found The Big M winner's circle. Getting plenty of support at the betting windows, Bushwacker, the 8/5 favorite at post time led at the first point of call, a 26.1 quarter, before yielding to the pocket behind the brushing Kingofthejungle. Bushwacker sat the pocket past the half-mile in 53.3 and three quarters in 1:22.3 as Kingofthejungle blazed the way. In the stretch, Bushwacker found a seam up the pylons and powered through to the lead. Doctor Butch, off a three month layoff rallied boldly down the center of the track, but Bushwacker was long gone and he would score in 1:50.1. Ontario Success was even off cover, finishing third. Winning driver Corey Callahan said in a pre-race interview that Bushwacker, "hits a knee at Dover and should like the bigger track." He was right, as Bushwacker won for the 13th time in his career, with earnings of $367,612. Bushwacker is trained by Chris Ryder for Henderson Farms. Bettorthanyou Impresses in Sale Audition Bettorthanyou, who is January Mixed Sale-bound on the 18th of the month, scored in the $17,500 upper level condition pacing event. Released as the 7/2 second-choice in the wagering, Bettorthanyou assumed command early in the mile and was well-rated throughout, putting up fractions of 28.1, 56.3 and 1:24.2 before sprinting home in 27-second to score the victory for Yannick Gingras. Sunfire Blue Chip, 3/2 choice, was locked in the pocket for much of the stretch as Gingras made sure to keep his gelding glued to the pylons and didn't have clear sailing until the shadow of the wire. Mr. Franklin, who went a tough first over trip, held on gamely to finish third. Bettorthanyou is HIP #200 in the January Mixed Sale presented by Tattersalls at The Meadowlands Racetrack on Monday, January 18th. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable L.L.C. and Weaver Bruscemi L.L.C. The win was the 13th in the career of Bettorthanyou, whose earnings went past $350,000 for his career. Campbell Wins Four John Campbell closed out his 2015 season with a five win night at The Meadowlands, the last of which pushed Campbell past $5 Million on the year. He opened his 2016 season in similar fashion, winning four races on the Saturday program, including a 27-1 upset with Mudslide. Campbell has now won nine of his last 27 races at The Meadowlands. If you had wagered $2.00 on John Campbell in each of those races, your total investment of $54.00 would have realized a return of $260.80 an Return On Investment of just shy of $10.00 for every $2.00 wagered. Bongiorno With a Hot Start On the heels of the most successful season of his young career, Joe Bongiorno began 2016 much like he ended 2015, winning races at The Meadowlands. He scored a driving triple on the card, including the 14-horse race at one and one-eighth miles. The 2015 season saw Bongiorno win 192 races for earnings of $1,973,758. Both career highs for the 22 year old reinsman. His Meadowlands numbers included 46 wins and earnings of $659,784, the highlight of which was the dead-heat victory in The Valley Victory Final with Make Or Miss. Friday racing returns on January 8th, with post time returning to 7:00 P.M. The Meadowlands racing schedule returns to each Friday and Saturday through Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 6th. Darin Zoccali

East Rutherford, NJ - They say there are few moments in sports that can rival the photo finish and the $489,400 Valley Victory Final certainly was representative of that statement. In the end, the win photograph couldn't decide a winner, because the noses of Dog Gone Lucky and Make Or Miss hit the wire together, a dead heat in the richest race of the night. For Dog Gone Lucky, the win belonged to Chuck Sylvester and for Make Or Miss, the story was his young pilot Joe Bongiorno. The irony, Sylvester was winning Hambletonians before Bongiorno was born and now they both set their eyes on harness racing's greatest prize in 2016. Dog Gone Lucky made an aggressive move to the lead, after Mavens Way made a break after a quarter in 27 seconds. In the meantime, Make Or Miss had nearly 10 lengths to make up, trotting in eighth position down the backstretch. Then, the outer flow began to develop as Taco Tuesday committed first over passed the half in just 57 seconds, a 30-second second quarter. Marion Marauder picked up that cover and Make Or Miss tracked the pair on the far turn while Dog Gone Lucky reached three-quarters in 1:26. Dog Gone Lucky opened up a clear lead in the stretch after a 59-second middle half, but just as he did, Make Or Miss found his best stride and put that electric turn of foot on display as he began to reel in the favorite. However, the wire was also coming quickly and it came just as both noses hit the wire, a dead heat in 1:54. Joe Bongiorno was nearly speechless in the winner's circle. "This is beyond amazing, I can't believe it," said Bongiorno. "I just want to thank all the connections for giving me the opportunity, this is the best moment in my life." Not to be out-done, trainer Chuck Sylvester reminded that he isn't done yet. "I'm not retired yet," Sylvester joked. "These horses will get a well deserved break and hopefully we'll back (for the Hambletonian) next year. The win was the first major stakes win for Bongiorno and the fifth win in the Valley Victory for Sylvester. It was the second victory for Make Or Miss, the son of Donato Hanover who now has earnings of over $223,000 while Dog Gone Lucky won for the seventh time and his fifth in a row, with his earnings now beyond a half-million dollars. Make Or Miss is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Centes Stables, Weaver Bruscemi and Jerry and Theresa Silva. Dog Gone Lucky was driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Chuck Sylvester and owners Amy Lynn Stoltzfus and Charles E Stansley. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands    

WILKES-BARRE PA -- The father/son harness racing team of trainer Robert Bongiorno and his driver/son Joe combined with 13-1 shot Meadowbranch Lulu to win the $30,000 Pennsylvania-sired three-year-old trotting filly feature Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   The younger Bongiorno positioned Meadowbranch Lulu, a daughter of Explosive Matter, second behind pacesetting Reigningblackswan, then proved to be a "pocket rocket" down the stretch, overhauling the leader by a length, with Northern Grace seven lengths further back in third. The winner took a new career mark of 1:54.3 for owners John DeVito and Rocco Manniello.   At press time, driver George Napolitano had posted four victories on the Tuesday Pocono card, bringing his North American-leading total to 703 for the year. His two nearest rivals, Aaron Merriman and two-time defending dash champion Ron Wrenn Jr., are both racing at Cleveland's Northfield Park, and at press time had posted two and three victories, respectively, so far in the evening, bringing the 2015 score as this is written to Napolitano 703, Merriman 693, Wrenn 666.   After trailing his two competitors virtually all year, Napolitano grabbed the top with an incredible week of 32 victories last Monday to Sunday, posting 15 triumphs in three cards at Pocono and 17 in four cards at Harrah's Philadelphia.   PHHA/Pocono    

MANALAPAN, NJ - September 17, 2015 - Saturday is Open Space Pace Day at Freehold Raceway, but the racing highlight of the card is actually a trot -- a $20,000 preferred trot -- with nine going to post for a mile and a half race. That is three times around the half-mile track, and the first mile and a half race in the modern era of Freehold Raceway, or as long as anyone can remember. The traditional distance for most harness races is one mile. Gural Hanover, driven by Joe Bongiorno and trained by Ron Burke, has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the featured seventh race, the $20,000 Open Space Pace Preferred Trot Handicap. "This is the first featured mile and a half distance race at Freehold Raceway," said Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Karen Fagliarone. "We have an outstanding field of trotters, totaling lifetime earnings of over $3.3 million. We are excited to offer something new to both our patrons and horsemen. We are thankful to the group of trainers and owners who co-sponsored this event along with Freehold Raceway." New Jersey-based trainers and owners donated half the purse: Ross Croghan's Dockside Stables, Joe Holloway. Linda Toscano, Mark Harder, Weaver & Bruscemi Stable. Ron Burke, Tom Fanning, Scott DiDomenico, Julie and Andy Miller, and Tony Alagna. The field, from the rail out with driver, trainer and morning line odds: PL Eureka, Nick Surick, Tara Hynes, 10-1; Pip I, Harry Landy, Harry Landy, 15-1; Silver Credit, Steve Smith, Karen Garland, 12-1; In Nomine Patri, Joe Haney, Joe Haney, 15-1; Mugshot Jess, Pat Lachance, Taylor Gower, 10-1; Sevruga, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 4-1; Lucky Colby, Eric Abbatiello, Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, 9-2; Gural Hanover, Joe Bongiorno, Ron Burke, 8-5, and Photosavvy, Vincent Ginsburg, Robert Bresnahan Jr., 9-1. Photosavvy, the nine horse, will leave from the second tier. Longtime standardbred owners and the founding sponsors of the event, Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Landy will serve as grand marshals for the Fourth Annual Open Space Pace Day "Parade of Horses," starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Freehold Borough's Hall of Records and ending at Freehold Raceway. The parade will feature marching bands from Freehold Township and Freehold Borough high schools. After the parade, the festivities move to Freehold Raceway where there will be live harness racing, a petting zoo, vendor tables, food trucks and educational exhibits. There will be an autograph session with Julie Miller and Hannah Miller from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the winner's circle at Freehold Raceway A concert featuring Burlap to Cashmere and The Nerds begins at 3 p.m. By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ - September 5, 2015 - Harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno and trainer Ron Burke teamed to win a pair of New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at Freehold Raceway. Both events were pre-card, non-wagering races and both were $7,000 opening legs for three-year-old pacers. In the event for fillies, Bongiorno guided Lissan to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:57 flat, finishing a length and a half in front of Smart Zone with a nine-length margin to Callacam in third. The colts and geldings split went to Edward Teach who also had the lead at every call and crossed the wire in 1:55.3. He was two and a half lengths ahead of Devils Cut with three lengths back to Rock Of the Ages. Both winners were offspring of Rocknroll Hanover. Lissan, owned by White Birch Farm of Allentown, NJ, picked up her second win of the year in 13 starts and has a career total of four wins, four seconds and four thirds from 20 starts for earnings of $44,538. Edward Teach, who was winless at two, now has three wins, two seconds and one third in 14 starts this year and has finished in-the-money in six of 14 career outings, banking $60,650 for Dale Towle of Leamington, Ontario. All seven entrants in the Charles Smith Trot will advance to the $50,500 final on September 17, 2015 at Freehold. No eliminations will be needed. Three - Crescent Fashion, Natural Kemp and Southwind Mozart - are from the stable of trainer Ake Svanstedt. Both Broken Record and Switchboard Hall are Ray Schnittker trainees. Mountain Top is conditioned by Noel Daley and P Mac Attack by Nancy Johansson. By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ

While fireworks filled the skies across the country on Saturday night, there were fireworks of a different kind around midnight as one lucky customer purchased the winning ticket in the last race jackpot super hi-5 which returned $173,094.02 at the harnes racing meeting at The Meadowlands. The lucky ticket was bought through the advance deposit wagering site, TVG. The correct combination of 7-6-9-3-8 included a 45-1 winner over the 1/2 betting choice followed by a 15-1 longshot, the 7/2 second choice and the longest shot on the board finishing fifth. This is the second highest payout in Meadowlands history, following a Jackpot Super Hi-5 that returned $200,000 earlier in the meet. The good news is there still is one Jackpot Super Hi-5 that is still alive at The Meadowlands, with a carryover now of $175,602. With major stakes races at The Meadowlands on the horizon, it was important for several of Ron Burke's contingent find their best stride. Rocklamation did her part on Friday and on Saturday it was Bettor's Edge and Sayitall BB's turn. Bettor's Edge won eight times in 2014 for earnings of over $673,000. While 2015 has not brought the same amount of success, the gelding still oozes class and that class was on display Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Sent off as the 4/5 favorite in a field of six in an upper-level condition pacing event, Bettor's Edge took no prisoners from the start of the race and was launched after Mister Virgin around the first turn and cleared the lead past the opening quarter in 26.3. From there, Bettor's Edge settled into his rhythmic stride and he would lead the charge to the half-mile in 55.1. At that point, a challenge came from Art History, who committed first over and tried to engage the favorite past three-quarters in 1:23, but Art History proved no match for Bettor's Edge. As the field turned for home, Joe Bongiorno called to his gelding for more speed and he responded, scampering three lengths clear. Melmerby Beach, who trailed throughout, was shown racetrack in the stretch and launched a relentless rally in the last eighth of a mile, but he came up just one-half of a length short as Bettor's Edge held on in 1:49.3. Mister Virgin was third. Bettor's Edge is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and M1 Stable. The win was the 23rd of his career and his earnings are rapidly approaching $1.5 Million. Sayitall BB also returned to her winning form, with an authoritative triumph in a condition event for fillies and mares on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. On the heels of an excellent three year old campaign that included a Breeders Crown Championship, Sayitall BB has struggled while making her transition to her four year old season, winning just once in eleven starts in 2015 entering her Saturday night contest. She took a positive step tonight. Sent off as the 6/5 choice, Sayitall BB went forward off the gate and allowed the speed to settle through an opening quarter of 26.4, before launching her bid for the lead as the field moved into the backstretch, where she would clear the front as the field straightened up. From there, the Breeders Crown champion reached the half-mile in 55-seconds before facing a challenge from All About Kisses who looked the favorite in the eye past three-quarters in 1:22.3. But, Sayitall BB had plenty left in the tank and when Joe Bongiorno called on his mare for pace, the response was instantaneous as Sayitall BB sprinted away from the field in the stretch to win going away in 1:50.1. Sayitall BB is eligible to The Golden Girls at The Meadowlands, as is her stablemate Rocklamation who won on Friday night. The Final for that event is Meadowlands Pace night, Saturday July 18th, with eliminations on July 11th if necessary. She is owned by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC and is approaching $600,000 in lifetime earnings. Lady Winona, who could be making her next start in the Del Miller Memorial was an emphatic winner of a condition trotting event on Saturday night. Allowed to settled off the speed, Lady Winona launched a first over blitz into fractions of 27.4 and 56.2 before clearing the lead and drawing away impressively to win decisively in 1:54.1. The win was the second of the season for the Credit Winner filly for owner Stroy Inc and trainer Julie Miller. Steve Smith was at the lines. Revenge Shark may have earned a berth in The Meadowlands Pace with a powerful stretch drive to score in a tough condition event in 1:50.2. Jim Marshall III guided the three year old colt to victory for trainer Tony Alagna in come-from-behind fashion. He defeated three other Meadowlands Pace eligible colts and a pair of talented New York Sire Stakes performers in the process. Revenge Shark is owned by Alagna Racing LLC and Bradley Grant. The $25,000 Dash For The "G" Notes Final went to Kingofthejungle who worked out a perfect second over trip and rallied boldly in the stretch to score his second victory of the season in a lifetime best 1:50.4 with Jim Pantaleano in the sulky. The winner is trained by Brandon Simpson, who co-owns the four year old gelding with Fox Racing Inc. Untouchable One captured the $20,000 Mini-Series Final for the $10,000 claimers rallying into a frantic speed duel that included a 53.2 half-mile to win going away with Joe Bongiorno in 1:51.1. It was Bongiorno's second win on the card. The winner was trained by Bill Mac Kenzie for Anthony and Alma Iafelice. Racing returns on Friday, July 10th with a special post time of 5:30 P.M. Saturday's racing card, which is Meadowlands Pace night, also has a special 5:30 P.M. start time.   Darin Zoccali

EAST RUTHERFORD (June 12, 2015) - The elements came together perfectly for some fast times in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Friday evening. With temperatures approaching 90 degrees and a great deal of humidity, the one mile oval at The Meadowlands was lightning fast for the 12-race harness racing program. The mile that had the grandstand buzzing came in the sixth race, upper-level condition trotting event. A field of seven accomplished trotters with plenty of class lined up behind the gate, including the prohibitive favorite Master Of Law, who was sent off as the 1/2 choice. Master Of Law is known for his explosive late kick, but tonight would change his tactics and take control of the race as the field went past the opening quarter. From there, the five year old gelding would establish strong fractions of 27.2, 55.1 and 1:23.3 before turning for home with a two length lead. World Cup was tracking from third position and Joe Bongiorno angled his trotter in the stretch and as soon as he was shown racetrack, World Cup found another gear. Master Of Law fought back gamely and the two hit the wire together, noses apart, but the nose in front belonged to World Cup, stopping the timer in 1:50.4. Master Of Law was a game second with the mare Clementine Dream third. World Cup won for the 17th time in his career, with earnings of $332,845. The 1:50.4 clocking was a new lifetime mark for the six year old son of Yankee Glide. He is owned by Carly L Roman and trained by Bob Bongiorno. Another mile that lit up the teletimer came in the first race, where Beach Granny stormed to a 1:49 winning performance in a filly and mare condition pacing event. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere cleared the lead past the half-mile pole in 54.1, paced a powerful 27.1 third quarter while leading the field and was able to fend off Wicked Little Minx to score in a lifetime best performance by nearly four seconds for Scott Zeron and trainer Steve Elliot. The 1:49 clocking was the fastest mile for any pacing mare this season, but that would only last for a few hours. In the 11th race on the program, Hot List by McArdle, coming off a blowout win at Goshen lowered the national season's mark for the pacing mares, with a 1:48.2 performance in a condition event while rallying up the pylons to catch Monkey On My Wheel. The win was the 27th of her career that now includes earnings of over $380,000. Hot List  with a 1:48.2 performance In other action, Aldebaran Eagle took a big step on the Road to the Hambletonian with a blowout win against a strong condition trotting group in 1:52.1, a lifetime best performance. The stakes winner as a two year old took over on the back stretch and never looked back, trotting home willingly in 28-seconds flat. This son of Muscle Hill is owned by Aldebaran Park Inc, and driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Jonas Czernyson. There were two divisions of the second leg of the Cathedra Dot Com for pacing mares on Friday night. The first division saw a repeat winner in Real Drama (Real Desire) who set a new lifetime mark, winning in 1:50.4. The second division was a runaway as That Woman Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere) bottomed out the field to score by many, also in 1:50.4. The $20,000 Final will take place on Friday, June 19th. At the betting windows, total handle was up nearly 10 percent, with the on-track handle up nearly 40-percent as nearly 10,000 spectators flooded the Big M oval to watch the camels and ostriches do battle. Both $.20 cent jackpot Super Hi-5 carryovers continued to grow, as the 5th race carryover swelled to $155,451 and the last race carryover now standing at $129,920. Racing returns with a 13-race program on Saturday, with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Panocchio (No Pan Intended) scored his first Open Pace victory since July on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Jimmy Mattison-trained four year old is in the midst of a breakout year and secured his ninth win of the season in just nineteen tries as he outclosed his harness racing rivals in the $17,000 Saturday feature. Gerry Mattison piloted Panocchio and sat patiently with the top pacer as the fractions in the first half were sizzling despite a sloppy track after a day full of rain in Saratoga. The race's favorite Bet On Roulette (Wally Hennessey) came first over after a half in a demanding 55.2 and Panocchio followed third over before reeling in Bet On Roulette in the final furlong. Bet On Roulette was a strong second in the mile paced in 1:53.3 while Code Word (Joe Bongiorno) came on to finish third. Panocchio returned $12.80 to win while the exacta with the even money favorite second came back $34.60. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella  

Crazy About Pat (Crazed) pulled off a mild upset in the $14,000 featured trotting race on Friday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Paul Kelley trainee won his previous start which was his first for new connections and on Friday battled some of the top local trotters. Benefiting from an early speed duel, Crazy About Pat and reinsman Shawn Gray moved three wide at the three quarter pole and outtrotted his rivals home to win 1:55.3. The four-year-old trotter moved his career earnings to over the $400,000 mark with his win that came at odds of 7-1. Longshot Walltocousins (Joe Bongiorno) held second while Slugfest (Jay Randall) closed for third. The victory was one of three on the night for Shawn Gray. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with a first post time set for 7:05pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

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