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Palone Celebrates 14,000th Victory

Palone14000TheMeadowsedit.jpg

Published: October 1, 2010 7:34 pm ET

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Dave Palone drove the 14,000th winner of his Hall of Fame career Friday when he guided Red Star Hottie to victory in the sixth race at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.

With that victory, Palone became only the second driver in North American harness racing history to collect 14,000 wins. He ranks second in the all-time standings to Herve Filion and his 15,180 wins. Behind Palone as of Sept. 28 are Cat Manzi (13,898) and Tony Morgan (13,624). German driver Heinz Wewering, who generally is credited with more than 16,000 wins, is the world’s all-time leader. Palone has piloted horses to over $88.9 million in earnings.

Palone needed four wins on Friday’s card to reach 14,000; he blew past that with nine victories on the 15-race card...and the chance for still more on the day as he headed to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to compete in Breeders Crown eliminations. Fittingly, his historic win with Red Star Hottie came for Ron Burke, with whom Palone has formed one of the sport’s most powerful, productive driver/trainer partnerships.

“I’m so grateful to all the trainers and owners who have given me opportunities,” Palone said. “With all the good horses they’ve given me, I should win a few. It’s taken a lot of work to get here, and winning is harder than ever. I’d like to think my work ethic has played a part in whatever success I’ve had.

“You have to keep things in perspective, though. We were discussing this at home the other day when my daughter said, ‘Dad, if you’ve won 14,000 races, how many have you lost?’ She knocked me off my pedestal.”

A five-time HTA “Driver of the Year,” Palone, 48, has been The Meadows’ leading driver every year since 1989. Although dominant there, the Waynesburg, Pennsylvania native drove under the radar on the national scene until, in mid-career, he ventured more regularly onto the Grand Circuit, where his talent became evident to the entire harness racing community. In 2007, he was the leading driver on the Grand Circuit.

He captured the 2005 Little Brown Jug with P Forty Seven and has won such other prestigious stakes as the Breeders Crown Three-Year-old Colt Trot (In Focus, 2008), the Messenger (Go For Grins, 1996), the Jugette (Maudlin Hanover, 1999; Numeric Hanover, 2003), the Nadia Lobell (Maudlin Hanover, 2003), the Delvin Miller Adios (Washington VC, 1999), the Provincial Cup, (Arturo, 1997), the Windy City Pace (Arturo, 1997), the Matron (Ultimate Goal, 1992) and the Beacon Course (Dontellmenomore, 1991). He was inducted into the harness Living Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Palone recorded his 12,000th win on Feb. 16, 2008, his 13,000th on May 4, 2009. If he maintains that pace, he’ll assault the 15,000 mark early in 2012, a mission he views with mixed feelings.

“I don’t put myself in Herve’s league,” he said. “As a young driver, I would drive home from our races about 1,000 miles an hour so I could watch Herve on the Roosevelt and Yonkers recap shows. It was amazing that he could get so much out of horses without hurting them.

“Sure, I’d like to pass him, but what I’d like even more is to be around to watch others pass me. That would mean young people are choosing harness racing as a career and establishing new standards of excellence. It would mean harness racing is thriving. That really would be something to celebrate.”

(The Meadows)


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