John Mungillo scores 1,000th training win at Batavia
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Western New York veteran trainer John Mungillo reached a major milestone at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 11) and he did it in a very convincing manner. Mungillo sent out his 3-year-old pacing filly Roll With Faith that he co-owns with Lawrence Willer and Finish Line Investors and watched her go wire to wire at 1-9 over a very sloppy race track in 1:57.3 to notch the 1,000th training victory of his career.
The grand achievement didn't happen overnight, it was a culmination of a lifetime's labor.
Mungillo started working as a groom for Pete Mondi at Batavia Downs in 1981 and eventually became second trainer for Don Rothfuss where he earned his driver's license and started teaming regularly. When Mungillo went on his own in 1986 his objective was to have horses from his barn win, regardless of who did the driving and didn't let ego stand in the way of success.
Although he did drive regularly from 1987-1989, he focused more on training his stock from that point on and really started accumulating wins as his stable grew.
Mungillo's career best training year was in 2013 when he scored 155 wins with a .309 UTR and earnings of $683,812 as a result. For his entire training career Mungillo has 6,099 starts with 1,000 wins 860 seconds and 791 thirds with $4,466,409 in purses. That's 43% in the money lifetime and that's not too shabby.
Currently at the Downs Mungillo is racing ten horses regularly and ranks eighth among all trainers with 13 wins, eight seconds and 14 thirds off 84 starts and has banked $66,782 in purses so far. For the entire year he has 32 wins and $202,945 in purses.
The feature race at Batavia Downs on Wednesday was the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace and Squeeze This paid big dividends after being overlooked by the betting public and tripping-out to a narrow margin of victory.
Classy Lane Rose (Drew Monti) went right to the front and seated all the girls behind her around the first turn. Exotic Beach (Larry Stalbaum) who had gotten away last, became restless at the eighth pole and pulled to start a slow, methodic march to the front. With Classy Lane Rose comfortable on the lead, it took Exotic Beach another half mile outside before she reached the pacesetter at the three-eighths pole to get within striking range.
Aware of the challenge at hand, Monti stepped up the third quarter with his mare but the pesky Exotic Beach would not relent. The two then argued around the last turn before Classy Lane Rose showed some fatigue at the head of the stretch. It was there the pocket-sitting Squeeze This (Billy Davis Jr.) snuck into the passing lane and zoomed by both of them to win by a nose in 1:57.2.
It was the fifth win of the year for Squeeze This ($37.80) who now has $41,591 in the bank. Garth Bechtel owns the 5-year-old Allamerican Native offspring that is trained by Jim Graham.
Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 13) with post time at 6 p.m.