02/10/2015 3:47PM

Trainer Jonathan Wong gets first win


Trainer Jonathan Wong, a 26-year-old San Francisco native, earned his first victory Friday when heavily favored Pressure Time ran down Stretch Home and pulled away to a 2 1/4-length victory in a $3,200 claimer.

“I was really happy,” Wong said of the win, which came with his eighth starter. “I could tell at the quarter pole he had a good chance.”

Wong was introduced to racing by jockey agent John Moresco, who owned a grocery store where Wong’s mother shopped. Wong and his mother were captivated by racing, and his mother purchased horses, running them with trainer Brian Pitnick.

Wong, who said he was home schooled and earned his high school diploma in three years at age 16, worked mornings at the track for Lonnie Arterburn and Art Sherman. He worked the last seven years with trainer John Martin.

“John doesn’t get enough credit as a horseman,” Wong said. “He taught me about being a good horseman and a good person. The most important thing he taught me is you can never check a horse enough.”

Martin is known for catching foul balls and home runs at major-league baseball parks, and he passed on his skills to Wong.

“I caught my first foul ball at Oakland and my first batting-practice home run in San Francisco,” Wong said.

“It was fun watching his horse win,” Martin said. “He was a groom for a long time, but recently he went to assistant trainer and did a lot of things for me. He looked over a lot of things to save me time at the barn.

“I hope I taught him to make good entries. He’s going to have to go through a lot of stuff as a trainer, but he’s going to be fine.”

Wong has nine horses and, like Martin, plays the claiming game aggressively. He said he likes the pressure of finding the right horses to claim for his owners, explaining, “That’s the exciting part of the game.”

Making the first win even better was the fact it came on Wong’s wife’s birthday. To cap off the day, trainer and former jockey Tony Diaz was ready to spray Wong with a hose after the victory, but Wong eluded him.