Bill Finley

Bill Finley has been covering both thoroughbred and standardbred racing for more than 25 years. He is a racing columnist for ESPN.com and can also be heard on the Down the Stretch show on Saturdays on Sirius XM radio.

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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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