CHESTER PA – Joe Bongiorno became one of the youngest drivers to achieve 2000 career victories when the 26-year-old sent developing force Nicholas Beach to the lead and just kept pouring it on, winning in a lifetime best 1:49 in the $11,200 featured pace Friday afternoon at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Bongiorno had his first 100+ winner year in 2012 at age 18 and has not left that club since, peaking with 399 sulky triumphs in 2016. The horses he has driven have earned over $25.2 million, $5.9 million of that last season. Much of his success can be attributed to his relationship with two different trainers – perennial leader Ron Burke, and his sister Jennifer, for whom he handled Nicholas Beach.
A downpour started minutes before the $11,200 trotting feature, turning the track to “sloppy.” The off conditions probably helped cause several contenders to go offstride, but Tim Tetrick dexterously steered the Explosive Matter filly Moondust through the confusion to win in a career best 1:58 and pay $70.60 to win. Marc Mosher trains the winner for owner Jaypaul Hoover.
Todd McCarthy, a member of the Australian driving dynasty and already a participant in a World Driving Championship, opened his U.S. win account by guiding Soho Wallstreet A to a 1:51.2 victory for trainer Tom Shay and owner Howard Taylor. The 27-year-old son of Aussie legend John and brother of top drivers Luke (Down Under) and Andrew (North America), Todd showed both aggressiveness and patience, moving his horse to the lead early, letting the first-over horse go past down the backstretch, but keeping his equine “fellow countryman” up on the bit and able to come back for the victory.