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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

Trainer Nancy Johansson might keep an eye on the racing in Canada on Saturday night, but her primary focus will be on her own horse at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Johansson's Western Vintage, one of the most highly regarded 3-year-old male pacers in North America, is the 3-5 morning line favorite in his division's $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship at the Big M. Sire Stakes crowns also will be handed out to 3-year-old female pacers, female trotters, and male trotters. If all goes well for Western Vintage, after the sire stakes final he will head to Canada's Mohawk Racetrack for the North America Cup eliminations June 7. The C$1 million North America Cup final is June 14. The final Canadian prep races for the North America Cup, three divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, also are Saturday night. The first division will go to the gate approximately 30 minutes after Western Vintage's race at the Meadowlands. "We'll be watching, but really the most important thing is that my horse does his work," said Johansson, who trains Western Vintage for owners Perry Soderberg and Marvin Katz. "I think I have the best one, so I just need to worry about him and let the others worry about themselves. I can only control what happens with my horse anyway, I can't control anything with the others." A son of stallion Western Ideal out of the mare Major Harmony, Western Vintage was purchased by Soderberg for $7,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale. Last season, he won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. Western Vintage started his 2014 season by winning the opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 17. He sat out last weekend's second round, which was won by Doo Wop Hanover. "So far I can't complain about anything with him," Johansson said. "He's sound and happy and doing his work well. We're where we want to be with him at this point." In the New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old male trotters, Trixton is the 3-5 favorite thanks to winning the Simpson Memorial in a season-best 1:51.2 and exploding in the stretch to win the first sire stakes leg by 4-3/4 lengths with a :26.2 last quarter-mile over a sloppy track. Trixton is trained by Jimmy Takter, who is Johansson's father. Takter also has the 8-5 favorite in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly pacers, Gettingreadytoroll. And he has the 5-2 second choice in the sire stakes final for 3-year-old filly trotters, Moonlight In Miami. Julie Miller-trained Cee Bee Yes is the 2-1 choice. 2nd Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Colts & Geldings Pace 1-Doo Wop Hanover [Rocknroll Hanover], John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 8-5 2-Dancin Hill [Rocknroll Hanover], Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 9-2 3-Western Vintage [Western Ideal], Yannick Gingras, Nancy Johansson, 3-5 4-Rock Out [Rocknroll Hanover], Matt Kakaley, Steve Elliott, 15-1 5-Beat The Drum [Tell All], Brett Miller, Staffan Lind, 20-1 3rd Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Colts & Geldings Trot 1-Well Built [Muscle Hill], Jim Meittinis, Chris Ryder, 15-1 2-Skates N Plates [Revenue], Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1 3-Trixton [Muscle Hill], Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-5 4-Martiniwithmuscle [Muscle Hill], Yannick Gingras, Joseph King, 12-1 5-Speak The Truth [Muscle Hill], Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 5-1 6-Resolve [Muscle Hill], Matt Kakaley, Roman Lopez, 20-1 7-Sumatra [Muscles Yankee], Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 12-1 8-Odds On Amethyst [Muscle Hill], Howard Parker, Chris Ryder, 9-2 9-King City [Muscle Hill], Mike Lachance, Jonas Czernyson, 30-1 10-Lightning Force [Muscle Hill], John Campbell, Randy Beeckman, 20-1 4th Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Fillies Trot 1-My Inspiration [Chocolatier], Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 6-1 2-Mistresswithmuscle [Muscle Hill], Matt Kakaley, Nifty Norman, 30-1 3-Ravine [Muscle Hill], Mike Lachance, Bob Stewart, 30-1 4-Yoga [Muscles Yankee], Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 4-1 5-Moonlight In Miami [Muscles Yankee], John Campbell, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 6-Heaven's Door [Muscle Hill], Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-2 7-Scream And Shout [Muscles Yankee], Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 8-Cee Bee Yes [Muscles Yankee], Marcus Miller, Julie Miller, 2-1 5th Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Fillies Pace 1-Blixtra [Rocknroll Hanover], Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 2-Atasallrite Hanover [Rocknroll Hanover], Brett Miller, Ron Burke, 8-1 3-Sayitall BB [Tell All], Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 4-1 4-Highland Rockstar [Rocknroll Hanover], Mike Lachance, Buzzy Sholty, 20-1 5-Ideal Helen [Western Ideal], Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 30-1 6-Fanticipation [Rocknroll Hanover], John Campbell, Michael Forte, 15-1 7-Act Now [Western Ideal], Tim Tetrick, Nikolas Drennan, 9-5 8-Rockingham Park [Rocknroll Hanover], Howard Parker, Ron Coyne Jr., 12-1 9-Fiyonce [Rocknroll Hanover], Joe Bongiorno, Ron Burke, 20-1 10-Gettingreadytoroll [Rocknroll Hanover], Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-5 by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Sweet Lou returned to The Meadowlands in style in the first round of the TVG Free For All Championship series with a dominant and compelling performance on May 10th, sailing around the East Rutherford oval in 1:48.3. Among those left in his wake was his stable-mate and the richest pacer in history, Foiled Again. "(Sweet Lou) was super last week. That mile was as good as I have seen him since he was two," was the reaction from trainer Ron Burke. "We tried him at Yonkers, but it didn't seem to suit him, but all his efforts on the bigger tracks this year have been excellent." He will be driven by Ron Pierce once again. Sweet Lou (post 10) leads a three-pronged Ron Burke attack in the second $50,000 TVG Free For All Championship leg Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Joining him this round are stable-mates Clear Vision (post 1) and Bettor's Edge (post 9). While conspicuous by his absence, Burke explained why Foiled Again is qualifying this week and not entered in the TVG FFA event. "Each leg I want to race three out of the four I have in there. This week Foiled gets the night off." Clear Vision, who just missed to Dancin Yanee in a world record mile of 1:47.2 at Pocono last week is having an excellent campaign thus far for Burke and will be driven by Matt Kakaley. "He has been awesome this year," Burke added. "He'll be a factor in there." The last of the trio is Bettor's Edge, piloted by Joe Bongiorno, who despite his last two race lines, has been better than one may think. "He had no chance last week the way the race shaped up, but he was super," said Burke. "The key with him is getting him into the race and if he gets a trip, he'll be right there." The Burke entry has been installed as the 8/5 morning-line favorite for this week's $50,000 TVG Free For All leg. Warrawee Needy (post 3) will begin as the second choice, sporting a 3-1 morning line with Tim Tetrick at the lines once again. Warrawee Needy came up a neck short to Allstar Legend in the $30,000 Free For All Handicap last week at The Meadowlands after setting a blistering pace, getting to three-quarters in 1:19.4. Bolt The Duer made a favorable impression in his 2014 debut, finishing a solid third behind Sweet Lou and Foiled Again. "He was really good," said his regular driver Mark MacDonald. "He acted like he needed that start. He was racing against horses that had all been racing quite a bit already this year. I really think he is ready to step up and have a very big year." Bolt The Duer will start from post 2 and is 4-1 on the morning line. The remainder of this week's TVG FFA leg consists of Thinking Out Loud, Modern Legend, Word Power, Golden Receiver and Dovuto Hanover. Total earnings for the field of 10 is over $12.5 Million. This $50,000 TVG FFA leg will go postward as race six on a 13-race program that also features the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three year old colt and filly pacers. Post time is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations

Grand Circuit racing makes its 2014 debut at The Meadowlands with Saturday night's $49,000 W. N. Reynolds Memorial stake for sophomore pacing colts. Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship winner Allstar Partner makes his seasonal bow in the race for trainer John Butenschoen and owners VIP Internet Stable and Michael Foti. The son of Four Starzzz Shark gelding won seven of ten and over $280,000 in his freshman campaign, primarily in PASS competition and took his 1:51.4 mark at The Meadows. Corey Callahan was aboard for the PA Championship win at Harrah's Philly and made Allstar Partner his choice of four he was listed to drive in the field on Saturday. That left the drive on Always B Miki open for the meet's leading driver Yannick Gingras to pick up for trainer Joe Holloway. Always B Miki was a presence in the Indiana program last season and looked formidable in his first foray as a soph roaring home in 26 seconds flat on the end of a 1:51 mile here but a fortnight ago. He races for the interests of the Bluewood Stable, Val D'Or Farms and Roll The Dice Stable. Callahan will also take part in the $30,000 Final of the "Legends vs Phenoms" drivers' competition. Covering a six week period beginning on March 22, the competition offered a $2,000 top prize to the top point earner for both the "Legends" and "Phenoms" in each of the five legs. The format resulted in a cash bonanza for Meadowlands newcomer Scott Zeron who swept all five preliminary legs on the "Phenom" side and collected a cool $10,000 for his efforts. Saturday's competition includes the aforementioned drivers along with Joe Bongiorno, John Campbell, Vincent Ginsburg, Jimmy Marohn, Jr, Dave Miller, Jim Morrill, Jr, Steve Smith and Mike Wilder. The contest covers five races and offers a top prize of $15,000 to the driver amassing the highest point total with $5,000 to the second place finisher and $3,000 for the show with the other drivers awarded $1,000 for their participation in the event. The Meadowlands races live on Friday and Saturday evening with first post set for 7:15pm. Other pertinent information is available by visiting the track's website. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

Saturday night at The Meadowlands was pleasant weather-wise with temperatures in the 50's and little to no wind while the action on the harness racetrack was hot right from the start. The sixth race was the $63,000 What Baron final, remembering one of the great pacers of the early years at The Meadowlands and it turned out to be a slugfest. Captive Audience and Wake Up Peter were both in line for a sweep and Dave Miller made a bold early statement, flaunting the impressive early speed of Captive Audience through the 26.3 opening quarter while Scott Zeron and Wake Up Peter could not find position from his outside post and were forced to press on for the lead. The pair met at the half in a demanding 53.3 and went toe to toe from that point forward. At the wire, it was Captive Audience prevailing in a close photo while Wake Up Peter had to settle for the place after an absolutely paint peeling effort. The time of 1:48.3 was a new career best for the winner, trained by Corey Johnson for Debbie Element and Mac Nichol of Ontario. The $55,800 Artistic Vision final (race 11) pitted favored American In Paris, questing for a series sweep, against JK Letitgo who had her own reign of terror interrupted by a pair of losses to her rival in the series legs. Jim Morrill, Jr was intent on the lead with American In Paris and set honest fractions as JK Letitgo made a bid around the final bend, taking a bravening tuck passing the 1:21.4 three panels. In the stretch, JK Letitigo emerged from the pocket and wore down the favorite to win in 1:50-. Driver Jonathan Roberts had this in the post-race interview, "I wanted to be close up, the fractions were fast enough that I thought she had enough to win. She actually was good enough last week but had no room in the stretch". The winner is trained by Joshua Parker, he is a partner in the filly with Nanticoke Racing, Barry Spedden and Kevin Evans. On the pari-mutuel front, Saturday's first race offered a Pick 5 carryover of $30,782 which attracted $140,596 in new money and those first few winners were not easy to have. Pierce came into the opener, a $30,000 instant series for Non Winners of 2 races with a perfect record, he had never won in 18 previous races. Tonight would be a different story as driver Scott Zeron, who had spoken to this particular horse's penchant for keeping himself classified in a Friday paddock interview, pressed to the lead passing the three eighths and held on in a photo for the 1:51.2 maiden breaker at odds of 8-1. The second race was the fast class A-2/B-1 pacers going for $22,500 and it was bombs away here when Rockin Wizard scored from off the pace for Mike Wilder in a new personal best of 1:49- returning $75.40 for a $2 win bet. The suspense continued to build when Jamaican Cowboy and Vinny Ginsburg won the fourth race from the clouds at 19-1. The will pays leading into the fifth and final leg of the bet revealed one uncovered combination and every held combination returning either $120,000 or $60,000 on the wager. In the end it was 5-1 shot Moonliteonthebeach scoring in a new record of 1:51 for Jonathan Roberts resulting in a published payoff of $60,140 for each fifty cent wager with the correct combination. The fifth and final preliminary leg of the Legends vs. Phenoms Driver Challenge was contested Saturday night as well. For the Phenoms, it was the same story as Scott Zeron swept each of the five preliminary legs, doing so this time with 79 points. On the Legends side, it came down to the final race as Dave Miller and Corey Callahan were tied after 12 races. Miller won the finale with OK Fame and took the $2,000 prize with 94 points. The 10 drivers qualifying for the Championship Round on Saturday April 26th, which will offer a $15,000 first place grand prize are Dave Miller, Corey Callahan, John Campbell, Jim Morrill Jr., Scott Zeron, Joe Bongiorno, Vincent Ginsburg, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smith and Mike Wilder. The championship round will be contested over a limited number of races and all ten drivers will have the same number of drives, giving them all an equal opportunity to take home the grand prize. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

On paper, the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Final appeared to be a wide open race. But on the racetrack, it was anything but. Avatartist, sent off as the 9-5 favorite, made the early lead in 26.1 prior to yielding to the pocket. Driver Dave Miller made an aggressive move down the backstretch, reclaiming the lead past a 53.3 half-mile. The Buckeye threw down the gauntlet and opened up a commanding lead heading to the top of the stretch and never had an anxious moment in the stretch winning in a stakes record 1:50.1. Alexa's Jackpot rallied very well off dull cover to be second, while Wake Up Peter came from an impossible spot to be third. The winner is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owners William Hill, Peter Harrisson, Michael Saftic and James Walker. Ironically, Avatartist is not eligible to the upcoming Whata Baron series which begins Saturday April 5th, while Alexa's Jackpot and Wake Up Peter are heading to that series next. In the $60,600 Final of The Horse & Groom, it was a perfect storm for Hldontghttoyurdrms in more ways than one. First, the 3-5 favorite Bambino Glide made a break prior to the start, never to be involved. At the start, round one winner Amigo Ranger went off-stride. Next, turning down the backstretch, with Hldontghttoyurdrms leading through a 27.3 opening quarter, pocket-sitting March Awareness broke stride, leaving the pace-setter with a six length lead heading to the half. Hldontghttoyurdrms got that half in 55.4 and three quarters in 1:24.3, while never facing a challenge and romping to an easy score in 1:53.4 for Canadian based driver Jonathan Drury. The winner had been a bit disappointing in the first two rounds of the series, but with the money down, the gelded son of Muscles Yankee got the job done. He is trained by Corey Johnson for owners Saverio Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Frank Spagnolo. Longshot Magglio was second with Crosbys Clam Bake finishing third. Scott Zeron and Jim Morrill, Jr. were the Winners in Round 2 of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Scott Zeron continues to make plenty of noise at The Meadowlands as he easily led the Phenoms from gate to wire to win the second leg of the Driver Challenge with 85 points. Zeron also won the "phenom" category last week as well. While Zeron is dominating the Phenoms, the Legends category has been a battle. Tonight, Andy Miller and Jim Morrill Jr. went into the last race each with 83 points, with first round winner Dave Miller right behind with 81 points. In the end, it was Jim Morrill Jr, with 90 points winning round 2 for the Legends. For the tournament, Dave Miller (172) leads the "Legends" followed by Andy Miller (160), Jim Morrill Jr. (158), Corey Callahan (74) and John Campbell (73). Scott Zeron (163) is cruising along in the "Phenoms" category. Joe Bongiorno (90) is a clear-cut second. Rounding out the top 10 are Tony Hall (60), Jonathan Drury (54), Steve Smith (52), Jim. Marohn Jr. (49), Vincent Ginsburg (46), Tyler Smith (45), Jim Meittinis (33) and Eric Abbatiello (22). On Saturday April 26th, the top five Legends and the top five Phenoms will qualify for the Driver Challenge Final, with the winner earning $15,000. Racing resumes on Friday with the first round of the Artistic Vision series for pacing mares, with post time at 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

Saturday, March 22nd will begin the six week long, Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Each race on the next five Saturday programs will be a part of the Challenge, with the following format. · The driver with the most points accumulated for each team will win a $2,000 bonus. · Points are accrued as follows: o Win - 10 points o 2nd - 9 points o 3rd - 8 points o 4th - 7 points o 5th - 6 points o 6th - 5 points o 7th - 4 points o 8th - 3 points o 9th - 2 points o 10th-12th - 1 point On the sixth Saturday, April 26th, the top 5 point earners for The Legends and the top 5 point earners for The Phenoms from the first five weeks will qualify for the Final, where the Overall winner will win $15,000, the runner-up will receive $5,000, third place will receive $3,000 and fourth through tenth will each receive $1,000. For purposes of this coming Saturday, March 22nd, the drivers will be divided as follows: Legends: Dave Miller, Andy Miller, Jody Jamieson and Jim Morrill Jr. Phenoms: Scott Zeron, Tony Hall, Tyler Smith, Joe Bongiorno, Jim Meittinis, Vincent Ginsburg , Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smtih, Eric Abbatiello and all other drivers on the card. The Drivers Challenge will take place each Saturday through April 26th. Darin Zoccali

East Rutherford, NJ - Last Saturday night at The Meadowlands driver Joe Bongiorno was replaced on two of his mounts after a pre-race interview in which he stated that his instructions from the owners of those horses were to race those two horses conservatively in anticipation of upcoming stakes. The judges at The Meadowlands, after listening to the interview, felt that he should be replaced to protect the interests of those wagering on the races discussed. Protecting the integrity of the racing is their job description. Drivers and other racing personalities that may be interviewed or post comments on social media are certainly not trained in the field. Mr. Bongiorno has said publicly that he did not state his intentions clearly in the interview. At twenty years of age, his media exposure is limited but his enthusiasm for racing and his integrity are unquestioned. Experienced horseplayers are aware that there is no substitute for observing the actions taken by drivers during a race to determine if the horse was driven properly. The interview comments made by drivers are similar to the way the NFL discloses injuries, to provide interested parties with the most current and accurate information possible as well as adding a personal component to the broadcasts. In this age of information saturation, as we navigate through the process of utilizing the various social platforms to our best advantage, there will be missteps. So long as wagering is an element of our product, those will be magnified. While this situation may be regrettable, it was dealt with in an objective and thoughtful fashion. The Meadowlands considers both information and integrity vital components to the future success of harness racing. Our expectation is that any horse entered to race at The Meadowlands is racing to win every time. Submitted by the Meadowlands

Coral Springs, FL - In an exclusive interview early Sunday morning with’s Steve Wolf, harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno explained that he was “misunderstood” in his interview at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ Saturday night that prompted the judges to take him off two horses he was scheduled to drive. ‘What I said in the interview,” said Joe Bongiorno, “was that I was going to race those horses conservatively. I obviously regret using the word conservatively. Obviously my words were misconstrued. Probably should have used the words “raced off the helmet” and try to beat horses in the lane. ‘All people have to do is watch me drive races,” Bongiorno added, “I drive every horse to win. I’m very aggressive. I wasn’t going to be real aggressive at the start tonight but race them off the helmet. But I guess I did not explain myself well enough in the interview.” “He was only taken off the two horses he talked about,” John Tomasello, presiding judge at the Meadowlands explained, “Those two horses he indicated would get “easy trips” and we understand about racing and how racing lays out. However we expect horses to be raced to win and we don’t want to hear that they are in a series next week. We are concerned about the races here tonight. That was the reason we made the driver changes tonight. We want to see every horse here tonight given the best chance to win.” In the sixth race Saturday, Bongiorno was replaced on Shoobee’s Place, who was driven by Marcus Miller and finished fourth at odds of 4-1. Bongiorno was also replaced on Code Word, who was driven by Steve Smith in the eighth race and was never a factor, finishing eighth at odds of 6-1. “I spoke to the judges,” Bongiorno said. “They said they had to take me off the two horses because of the interview. We really didn’t get into details. I had to let them do what they had to do and now move forward. We talked a little and I have to respect the decision they made. Obviously I used the wrong phrase of words. I am out there trying to win every race. Sometimes I may even be too aggressive at times and that has cost me races. “Anyone who has come out and watched me race,” Bongiorno said, “knows that I am trying to win every race I am in.” By Steve Wolf, for

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