Saturday, February 11, 2023

Chapheart had the all-important tightener over the track, and the Ron Burke trainee responded with a superb effort in the Friday night featured conditioned trot at The Meadowlands, giving driver Joe Bongiorno one of his four victories on the card.

The 4-year-old gelded son of Chapter Seven-Hip To My Heart won it using a tactic that his driver thought wasn’t the best way to go, but things went the right way on the front end.

“I think he’d prefer to race off a helmet,” said Bongiorno, who currently sits atop The Big M driver standings with 22 winner’s circle visits. “Once we made the front pretty cheap (we were in good shape).”

A second-place finish last Saturday after a three-month layoff had Chapheart ready to go, and after setting fractions of :28.1, :57.3 and 1:26.1, the winner of six races from 24 lifetime starts had no trouble hitting the wire first in a lifetime-best 1:54.3, three-quarters-of-a-length in front of an along-the-pylons closing Call Me Dani. Fit Bitt was third.

“I know Eurobond struggles on the turns,” said Bongiorno of the 2-1 second choice who went parked around the far bend, “so I tried to get away from him a little bit. My horse hung tough right through the lane. We got the fractions tonight.”

As the even-money favorite, Chapheart returned $4.20 to win. Eurobond finished fourth.

Bongiorno also scored with Rable ($6.40 to win as the second choice) in the seventh race; A New Leader ($15.80 as the third choice) in the eighth; and Lenwoods Real Deal ($38.80 as the seventh choice) in the 11th.

A $20 win bet on all 12 of Bongiorno’s drives resulted in a profit of $412.

A PERFECT 10: The Meadowlands’ streak of topping the $3-million betting barrier on Fridays and Saturdays during 2023 stayed alive. A total of $3,100,563 was pushed through the windows on the 14-race card, meaning that this year, there have 10 programs conducted on Friday and Saturday nights, with each surpassing the magic $3-million mark.

A LITTLE MORE: Yannick Gingras, Dexter Dunn and Andy McCarthy all recorded driving doubles. … Per Engblom and Bruce Saunders each trained a pair to victory lane. … There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6, setting up a $6,535 carryover. Those with five correct collected $198.06. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. The Pick-6 begins in the eighth race, with free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card available by going to

PHOTO: Chapheart wins the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands, one of four victories on the night for driver Joe Bongiorno. (Credit: Lisa Photo)