Saturday, October 28, 2023

Driver Joe Bongiorno had some power Friday night at The Meadowlands, and the 30-year-old pilot put it to good use, taking two of the seven $20,000 leg-five divisions of the Crawford Farms Kindergarten Series for 2-year-olds of each sex and gait.

The Kindergarten finals and consolations will be contested at The Big M on Saturday, Nov. 4 with total purses estimated at $1 million.

Bongiorno guided Miss I La to victory lane in the first of two splits for filly trotters in 1:54.2 for trainer Noel Daley. After leaving the gate quickly, the daughter of Walner-Southwind Venus settled into the pocket behind Sambuca Hanover, vacated that spot to challenge that foe at three-quarters before going on to a 1¾-length win. Sambuca Hanover held second with Go For Gaagaa No third.

“She’s a very talented filly who did everything right,” said Bongiorno. “She settled into the hole nicely and when I moved her out, she did what she had to do.”

Miss I La returned $4.40 to win as the 6-5 favorite.

Lou Vuitton was equally as impressive, scoring in the second of three colt and gelding paces in a sparkling lifetime-best of 1:50.4 for trainer Ron Burke.

After sitting behind Fasnacht Hanover at the quarter, Bongiorno moved Lou Vuitton to the top, and after reaching the half in :55.3, had a 55.1 back half in his gas tank to record a 1¼-length victory. Fasnacht Hanover finished second with Crush Kill Destroy third.

“He was very good, but he’s a little lazy,” said Bongiorno. “You have to keep his attention, keep his mind on business. I was pleased with his effort.”

Lou Vuitton, a son of Sweet Lou-Shark Lightning, returned $2.80 to his backers as the heavy 2-5 public choice.

In the first of the three colt and gelding paces, Caviart Justice (Lazarus N-Caviart Jane) prevailed for driver Jordan Stratton and trainer Nancy Takter in a lifetime-best 1:52.1 as the 9-5 second choice before Courtship (Betting Line-Midnight Romance) took the third split for Matt Kakaley and Travis Alexander in a lifetime-best 1:51 as the 3-5 chalk.

In the evening’s lone event for colt and gelding trotters, Mosquito (Muscle Hill-Amour Heiress) clicked for Stratton and Lucas Wallin in a lifetime-best 1:54.2 as the 5-2 second choice.

Pressure Cooker (Heston Blue Chip-Bettor Be Steamin) won the only filly pace of the night for Corey Callahan and Linda Toscano, hitting the wire in a lifetime-best-equaling 1:51.4 as the 5-2 third choice.

The other filly trot was taken by Honey’s Sweet (Chapter Seven-Corazon Blue Chip) in 1:54.2 as a 15-1 outsider for Steve Smith and Tony Alagna.

A LITTLE MORE: Kakaley, Stratton and Bongiorno all recorded driving doubles. … Daley and Shane Tritton led the trainers with two winners each. … Peter Kleinhans served as co-host on set for the evening and picked Premier Joy A as his value play of the night in the fifth race, who came in and paid $39.80. … Dave Little was on target with the Early Pick-4 (cashing in for $138), the Trifecta box ($229) in the seventh race and an Exacta box ($89) in the eighth. … All-source handle on the 13-race card totaled $1,942,647. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Miss I La and driver Joe Bongiorno win a division of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old filly trotters Friday night at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)