Monday, March 17, 2014

With Lawsuit Filed, Coletta Family Reveals Long-Term Prognosis is Grim

PHILADELPHIA–Speaking publicly for the first time, Anthony Coletta's father admitted that the long-term prognosis for his son is not good and said the chance of a full recovery is "less than one-half of one percent."

Coletta's parents, Fred and Rosemary, spoke briefly yesterday at a press conference to announce that the family has filed a lawsuit against Harrah's Philadelphia alleging that management refused to fix a track surface it knew was dangerous and their failure to act led to the Nov. 17 spill which left Coletta seriously injured.

The lawsuit details the long list of injuries Coletta suffered when his horse fell over another horse and the driver was catapulted from his sulky and thrown to the track.

"The most serious problem facing Coletta is, according to the lawsuit, "profound abnormalities indicative of severe and permanent brain damage." The lawsuit also stated that Coletta "will never return to his pre-injury condition."

Fred Coletta fought back tears when asked to update reporters on his son's condition.

"Anthony takes baby steps every day but they're moving in the right direction," he said. "He has a long way to go, but everything seems to be moving the way it is supposed to go. The prognosis from the very beginning was very bad.

"He's a very strong boy, a very strong kid and he fights every day. We hope that he gets better but the prognosis is not very good. They said with what he has he has a less than one half of one percent chance to fully recover."

Coletta said the entire family has tried to remain hopeful and will never give up on their son, who they say is an extraordinary fighter.

"Our son Anthony is in the race of his life and like with all his other races he is out to win," Coletta said. "He pays no attention to the odds and neither do we. Anthony is a winner in every way. Our family is by Anthony's bedside nearly every night and wants the racing world to know how grateful we are for the outpouring of thoughts and prayers for our son.

"We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

The suit was filed by Coletta's parents with a separate action taken on behalf solely of Fred Coletta, who was at Harrah's Philadelphia the day of the race and witnessed the spill firsthand. The suit claims that as a result of the shock of watching the accident Fred Coletta suffered insomnia, depression, crying spells, lost appetite, post-traumatic stress, aches, pains, nausea and other injuries.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Joe Bongiorno Taken Off Meadowlands Mounts After Questionable Comments

When interviewed last night on the Meadowlands in-house and simulcast feeds driver Joe Bongiorno made comments about two of his horses that led many to believe he would not try to win the races.

With sixth race starter Shoobee’s Place and eighth race starter Code Word, Bongiorno mentioned that with next week’s Levy Series at Yonkers coming up that he was under instructions from the horses’s connections to take it easy on this night.

Minutes after the interview aired the Meadowlands judges took Bongiorno off both horses.

“He made some comments that he was considering driving them in a manner more aiming for next week rather than tonight,” said Meadowlands judge John Tomasello.

“We are concerned with the betting public here tonight and we wanted to see these horses driven in a way where they are given every chance to win. I don’t want to see someone not take a chance when faced with the opportunity.

“I have spoken to Joe . I am not saying that Joe was going to drive not to win, but he might not have been as aggressive as need to be to win. In the best interests of the betting public we thought it necessary to make changes.”

Bongiorno admitted that he didn’t exactly pick the right words but insisted he never would have purposefully lost with either horse.

“I guess I worded it wrong,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said I was going to race the horse conservatively. I am out there to win every race I am in. Watch me drive any race and if anything I am too aggressive.

"What I meant to say was I was going to race the horse off the helmet but I am still obviously going to try to win. Heading into the Levy I wasn’t going to be putting that horse on the lead or coming a hard first over.

"The plan was to race off the helmet, close home and hopefully win the race. I am always trying to win races. That’s why I am in the business.

"I am very competitive and I would never do anything not to win a horse race. It was a bad choice of words, that’s all.”

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Fraley Banned at Meadowlands

By Bill Finley

P.J. Fraley, a top trainer whose barn includes three-time Dan Patch Award winner Anndrovette, has been informed that he will no longer be allowed to participate at the three tracks owned by Jeff Gural, the Meadowlands, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs.

The Gural tracks have also banned trainer Alvin Callahan.

As has been the case each time the Meadowlands has barred a trainer, Gural declined to comment on the decisions. Fraley also declined to comment other than to say he will likely have something say in the near future.

Fraley is the primary trainer for owner Jeff Bamond and took over many of the stable's horses when prior trainer Mark Kesmodel received a 105-day suspension from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board when Anndrovette tested positive in 2011 for the drug Oxymetazoline, a decongestant found in products like Afrin.

Bamond, who co-owns Anndrovette with Joseph Davino, said he was standing by Fraley.

"I won't have much of a comment for now because everything still isn't worked out," Bamond said. "I will say that I am going to stand by P.J. Whatever they are saying happened is false and we will, maybe, pursue this a different way."

Fraley picked right up where Kesmodel left off when he took over in 2011, winning with 403 of his 2,119 races with earnings of more than $8.4 million. Fraley has not had a particularly good year at the Meadowlands, where he is 8 for 77 since the meet began in late November.

continue reading story by clicking on the Harness Racing Update link

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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