07/05/2012 2:49PM

Harness: Dave Palone sets all time mark for driving wins at 15,181; passes Herve Filion

Chris Gooden
Dave Palone sets the mark for most career wins at just 50 years old.

Although records are made to be broken, when the number is 15,180 driving wins it can often seem insurmountable. On Thursday, July 5 at The Meadows racetrack in Washington, Pennsylvania, Dave Palone tied then surpassed Herve Filion to become the all time leader in North American driving victories.

Well Al B will go down in the books as the record-tying drive in the third race on the 16-race card. Palone brushed and crushed with the Ron Burke trainee and never had an anxious moment in the 1:52 2/5 victory. He was greeted by family and friends in the winner’s circle as the crowd cheered in the background.

The moment everyone was waiting for seemed inevitable but the anticipation grew nonetheless as Palone’s moment of glory was kept on hold until race eight, when he shattered the mark of 15,180 wins by guiding 2-year-old trotting filly Herculotte Hanover up the passing lane in a final clocking of 2:00 1/5 for trainer Jim Arledge Jr.

Palone, who was greeted in the winner’s circle by many of the drivers and trainers who battle him at the Meadows on a daily basis, was all smiles after the momentous event.

“I just wanted to get it done so badly,” said Palone about the record, before speaking about an inquiry on his horse in the race. “Thanks to the judges for leaving me up.”

Despite losing his longstanding record, Filion was full of praise for Palone.

“I feel good about it,” said Filion. “People told me all along that the record would never be broken, but with how much they race now, I knew one day Dave would break it.”

Perhaps the most amazing number associated with the record is Palone’s age. The native of Wayneburg, Pennsylvania checked in at just 50-years-young on Thursday while Filion drove regularly until he was 66. It is worth noting that the now 72-year-old Filion, who was in attendance for the historic moment, missed more than six years of action in his mid to late 50’s when he was exiled from the sport due to race-fixing allegations which were eventually dropped. The missed time potentially cost Filion approximately 1,500 wins.

Filion’s missed time aside, Palone, who averages nearly 700 wins each year, would have easily caught Filion by his 52nd birthday. And with a reasonable assumption of at least 10 more full-time racing seasons in front of him, Palone could cruise to 20,000 career victories.

Palone, who began his career in 1983, was inducted into the Harness Hall of Fame in 2010 and has a scroll of career accomplishments. He is a six-time Harness Tracks of America Driver of the Year and has led North America in wins three times. Palone is also the only driver in history to win 500 or more races in 20 consecutive seasons. His career best total for victories in one year stands at 885 (2008).

Although Palone rarely steps out into the spotlight on the Grand Circuit trail, he has captured the prestigious Little Brown Jug, Adios (at his home track – The Meadows), a few Breeders Crowns, and is the regular driver for the top 3-year-old pacer Sweet Lou, who will compete in the Meadowlands Pace eliminations on Saturday.