Driver Joe Bongiorno collected his second major victory at MGM Yonkers Raceway this week by capturing the $100,000 John Brennan Trotting Series final on Wednesday night (April 26) with 1-5 favourite Pappardelle in 1:55.1.
Armstead Cole (Jason Bartlett), the 4-1 second choice in the contest, gunned right to the front from post six but went on a break in the first turn, taking him out of contention and leaving Hoolie N Hector (Braxten Boyd) in the lead and Pappardelle behind him in the pocket. Hoolie N Hector, who won two preliminary legs of the series, hit the quarter in :28.1 and the half in :57.4, but Bongiorno went on the attack two-wide with Pappardelle in the third turn.
Once Pappardelle was fed the clear racetrack, he moved up quickly to engage Hoolie N Hector and had the lead on the outside at the 1:26.2 three-quarters. Pappardelle cleared Hoolie N Hector for good past that marker and the result was never in question from there, as Pappardelle trotted away to win by three lengths. Spicy Nugget (Yannick Gingras) was the runner-up, followed by Outside The Fire (Scott Zeron), Unevergonnagethis (Jordan Stratton) and Hoolie N Hector.
"As far as this special horse goes, he's been pretty much perfect ever since we have gotten him and he topped off this series with an easy win tonight," said Bongiorno.
The John Brennan Trotting Series is named in honour of the longtime Standardbred Owners Association of New York horsemen's representative who passed away from complications of COVID-19 in March 2020, and his memory holds a special place in the hearts of many, including Bongiorno.
"John Brennan was one of the first people I got really close with when I first started coming to Yonkers Raceway. I would sit and hang out in his office basically every night I raced there," he recalled. "You couldn't find a more straightforward person than 'Big John' was. If he liked you, he would take the shirt off his back to help you, and people like that are very hard to come by nowadays. This win means more to me than anyone truly knows."
Jenn Bongiorno trains Pappardelle, a four-year-old gelded son of Wishing Stone, for owners The Delaware Group, Joe Sbrocco, JB Racing and JAF Racing LLC. Pappardelle has compiled a record of 11-4-1 from 35 lifetime tries and he pushed his bankroll to $209,457.
He paid $2.70 to win and keyed a $15.60 exacta and a $176 trifecta.
The Bongiornos also had the favourite, What Should I Goo, in the $35,000 consolation, and she posted fractions of :27.4, :57.4 and 1:25.4 after making the lead from post four. She couldn't hold on in the stretch, though, as C You Again DK (Zeron), who got away in sixth from post five and then stayed on the inside to save ground, angled out midway through the final bend and came with a sustained rally that carried him to a 2-1/2-length victory in 1:54.4. Cantstop Yankee (Tyler Buter) surged from seventh to second in the back-half of the mile, and What Should I Goo had to settle for third.
Trainer Per Engblom's Engblom Stable LLC co-owns the winning nine-year-old gelding by The Liquidator with Kasper Foget. This was the trotters' 26th win from 69 career starts and he has now earned $129,532.
C You Again DK returned $11.60 to win as part of an entry that was sent off at odds of 9-2 and led a $215 exacta and a $485 trifecta.
The John Brennan Trotting Series was for three-year-olds and older who were non-winners of six pari-mutuel races or $150,000 through Feb. 1, 2023, with winners over $250,000 as of that date not eligible.
Series action will resume at MGM Yonkers Raceway next Tuesday, May 2, with the first leg of the new Can You Go The Distance Series for pacing mares. That event will feature three rounds -- one at half a mile, one at one mile, and one at a mile and sixteenth -- before a $40,000 final at a mile and a half on May 23.
Also, continuing through May 18, the Pick 5 pool on Thursdays at MGM Yonkers Raceway will be seeded with $10,000 and also have a guaranteed pool of $25,000. This initiative is being offered in partnership with the Standardbred Owners Association of New York as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program.
MGM Yonkers Raceway is currently operating on a Monday through Friday live racing schedule with post time at 7 p.m. (EDT).