Joey P., ridden by Joe Bravo, swooped to the lead in mid-stretch and drew off to a four and a half length victory in the $70,800 Rutgers University Stakes, the eighth race on Saturday, closing night of the Meadowlands 2005 thoroughbred meet.
“What can I say – he’s just an awesome horse,” said Bravo. “What happened at Belmont [seventh in the Sport Page Handicap on October 29] was not his fault. He got bumped into by another horse at the gate. Frank [trainer Frank Costa] did a great job getting him ready for this race. He bounced back great.”
The three-year-old gelding by Close Up opened his career with five straight at the six-furlong distance, including the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup on July 4 at Monmouth Park, which gave veteran trainer Costa his first graded stakes win.
Costa then tried Joey P. at two turns and he ran third in an allowance race and seventh in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational before returning to his best distance, and a win, in the $100,000 Friendly Lover Handicap at Monmouth on September 17.
Joey P. [$4.20, $2.40, $2.60] covered the Rutgers’ distance of six furlongs in 1:08.1.
Slam Bammy [$3.60, $3.40], who set the pace, held on for second. It was another length to Two Down Automatic [$3.80] in third.
Joey P. is a homebred owned by John Petrini, a retired state trooper from Vineland, New Jersey. The gelding now has seven wins and one third in 10 career outings for earnings of $324,749.
“I told him to lay off the pace,” trainer Costa said of his instructions to Bravo. “He’s such a good horse. The owner lives near Atlantic City and couldn’t make it here tonight. I can’t wait to tell him. I don’t know what’s next for him. I have to talk to his owner.”
End of meet honors were presented Saturday night by Racing Secretary Michael P. Dempsey to leading jockey, Joe Bravo; leading