Eighteen-year-old driver Joe Bongiorno posted his first professional wins at both the Meadowlands and Yonkers racetracks on Friday night.
Bongiorno steered Don’t Blame Her to the winner’s circle in the third race at Yonkers before crossing the George Washington Bridge in time to guide Moving Art to a dead heat for victory in the eleventh at the Meadowlands. Both horses are owned by his parents, Robert and Barbara Bongiorno of Colts Neck, NJ.
Bongiorno worked out a second over trip with Moving Art and rallied in time to match Elegant Girl and driver Yannick Gingras at the wire in 1:56.4. Bongiorno and Moving Art paid $20.20. The gifted young reinsman is the only driver in history to have finished in a dead heat for his first Meadowlands win.
“It’s a great honor, as young as I am, just to win a race at one of those tracks, let alone both,” Bongiorno said. “To do it with family-owned horses made it all the more special.”
Bongiorno, a senior at Colts Neck High School, jumped into the sulky in 2010 and was lauded as the Amateur Driver of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association that season. His success on the track comes as no surprise given his bloodlines. He is the grandson of Harold “Sonny” Dancer Jr. and a great nephew of Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer. His father, Robert, also trained horses and still remains active in the business as an owner.
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