Bongiorno Reaches 2,000-Win Mark

Published: August 28, 2020 09:34 pm EDT

Joe Bongiorno became one of the youngest drivers to achieve 2,000 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 on Friday afternoon (August 28) at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Bongiorno had his first 100+ win 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 more than $25.3 million, with $5.9 million of that total 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.

Joe Bongiorno is already a star; Nicholas Beach may not be far behind him. He had a win and a place as a two-year-old, then missed all of 2019. But he’s rapidly making up for lost time, perfect in four starts this year, and in Bongiorno's historic victory the Somebeachsomewhere gelding thundered home in :53.3.

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 off stride, 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.

(PHHA / Harrah’s Philadelphia)