East Rutherford, NJ - Last Saturday night at The Meadowlands driver Joe Bongiorno was replaced on two of his mounts after a pre-race interview in which he stated that his instructions from the owners of those horses were to race those two horses conservatively in anticipation of upcoming stakes.
The judges at The Meadowlands, after listening to the interview, felt that he should be replaced to protect the interests of those wagering on the races discussed. Protecting the integrity of the racing is their job description.
Drivers and other racing personalities that may be interviewed or post comments on social media are certainly not trained in the field. Mr. Bongiorno has said publicly that he did not state his intentions clearly in the interview. At twenty years of age, his media exposure is limited but his enthusiasm for racing and his integrity are unquestioned.
Experienced horseplayers are aware that there is no substitute for observing the actions taken by drivers during a race to determine if the horse was driven properly. The interview comments made by drivers are similar to the way the NFL discloses injuries, to provide interested parties with the most current and accurate information possible as well as adding a personal component to the broadcasts.
In this age of information saturation, as we navigate through the process of utilizing the various social platforms to our best advantage, there will be missteps. So long as wagering is an element of our product, those will be magnified. While this situation may be regrettable, it was dealt with in an objective and thoughtful fashion.
The Meadowlands considers both information and integrity vital components to the future success of harness racing. Our expectation is that any horse entered to race at The Meadowlands is racing to win every time.