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Thursday, 30 July 2015 09:10

John Mongeon, Jr.: Patience Has Many Virtues

By | Sports
Flapjack Attack winning at Saratoga in 2004 Flapjack Attack winning at Saratoga in 2004

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – When talking to long-time trainer/driver John Mongeon, Jr., you can’t help but come away with the feeling that he has a lot to be grateful for. 

 

Mongeon was literally born to assume this role. A third-generation harness horseman (his grandfather raced in the 1950s while also delivering coal,) he first took the reins at age 10, and since then he has enjoyed a career liberally spiced with friends, family and success at Saratoga Raceway. 

 

Growing up, his family moved around quite a bit. Finally settling in Saratoga Springs in the eighth grade, he graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 1979, and started working full-time at his father’s stable. While he began as a driver, he found his greatest success as a trainer of standardbreds. “It was a natural transition,” he said. “Driving was my first love, but now I mostly leave that to the younger generation.”

 

One of his greatest training success stories at Saratoga Raceway was 2004 Horse of the Year award-winning Flapjack Attack. Also, John trained Hidden Touch, who was named Filly/Mare Pacer of the Year in 2009. “She won over $360,000 at Saratoga Raceway,” he said. 

 

When asked what advice he would give someone who might want to get involved in harness racing, Mongeon said that patience is the key. “Our industry has gotten a lot more competitive with all the casino money at stake,” he said. “You’ve got to be patient and wait for your spot – a good horse doesn’t come along every day. I’m lucky to work for a great group of owners – many have been with me for 30 years or so – who recognize the importance of being patient.”

 

Throughout our conversation, Mongeon also went to great lengths to express gratitude about the blessings he has received on and off the track. “I use a great group of drivers; Frank Coppola, Jr., Bruce Aldrich, Jr. and Brian Cross mostly. The all have local roots and we’ve known each other since our teens,” he said. 

 

The most heartfelt sentiment was saved for his family. “A good wife is the key to success, and I’ve got a great one in Ann,” he said, speaking of his wife of 25 years. “We dated for seven years before that as well… talk about patient! It takes a special person to put up with our job: seven days a week, like a farmer – plus nights.” He was equally proud of daughters Marie (22) and Nicole (18), who are both intending to have careers as physician assistants. 

 

Mongeon currently has 11 horses, in his stable. Of these, two 4-year olds, Fire N Diamonds and Anything I Want are in top form now. But he advises our readers to keep an eye out for 3-year old filly Yessir I’m Royal. “We had very high hopes for her, when she sustained an injury.” He said. “But she’s gearing for a big return.” 

 

Here’s hoping that happens soon for one of Saratoga Raceway’s good guys.  

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