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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Saturday, March 08, 2014


Like a Box of Chocolates?


He's certainly one of the most interesting horses in the sport. But is National Debt one of the best? Will his bubble burst when the purses go up and the heavyweights of the division are back in action? These are fascinating questions and they might be a bit easier to answer after tonight's $60,500 final of the Buddy Gilmour Memorial Series at the Meadowlands.

By way of Alberta, where he won his first four career races, National Debt burst into national prominence two weeks ago when he scored an easy win in the first leg of the Gilmour Series. Beating the previously undefeated Dinner At The Met, he won in 1:50.3.

That he came out of Alberta and won so easily in his U.S. debut made National Debt an instant celebrity within the harness racing world and several big owners wanted a piece of him. Eventually, co-owners Blair Corbeil and Kelly Hoerdt sold a third of the Allamerican Native colt to Jerry Silva.

But what exactly did Silva get? That remains the mystery.

He's certainly one of the most interesting horses in the sport. But is National Debt one of the best? Will his bubble burst when the purses go up and the heavyweights of the division are back in action? These are fascinating questions and they might be a bit easier to answer after tonight's $60,500 final of the Buddy Gilmour Memorial Series at the Meadowlands.

By way of Alberta, where he won his first four career races, National Debt burst into national prominence two weeks ago when he scored an easy win in the first leg of the Gilmour Series. Beating the previously undefeated Dinner At The Met, he won in 1:50.3.

That he came out of Alberta and won so easily in his U.S. debut made National Debt an instant celebrity within the harness racing world and several big owners wanted a piece of him. Eventually, co-owners Blair Corbeil and Kelly Hoerdt sold a third of the Allamerican Native colt to Jerry Silva.

"We don't really know yet because he's had only one race there," Corbeil said when asked how good his horse is. "It was a nice race and it was an impressive way of doing it. Our hopes, like every owner in the world when they have a nice horse, is that he can be very, very good.

"Right now, we are cautiously optimistic and like our chances. He's still green and has lots to learn yet. There are a lot of other great horses out there so we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves."

Tim Tetrick drove National Debt in the first round of the Gilmour and liked what he saw.

"He's got a lot of pressure on him now," Tetrick said about National Debt, "but he impressed me very much. When I qualified him I thought he was a nice colt, but I didn't know he was going to go in 1:50.

When he got out there under the lights, he turned it on and he did it real handy. I moved with him at the half and he brushed and crushed. He's got a big motor."

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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