Washington, PA --- Hall of Famer Dave Palone, already the "winningest" driver in North American harness racing history, continues to go where no North American driver has gone before, becoming the first with 16,000 career wins. He notched the historic win Tuesday (Sept. 24) at The Meadows when he piloted DM Big Dog Daddy to victory in the second race.
|USTA/Dan Leary photo|
|Dave Palone is congratulated in the winner's circle following his 16,000th career triumph.|
Palone vaulted atop the win list July 5, 2012, when he earned career victory 15,181, moving him past longtime leader Herve Filion. Since then, Palone has garnered 819 wins in about 14-1/2 months, piling up victories at an impressive clip.
"This one kind of crept up on me," said Palone, 51. "It happened so fast. I've had a pretty good run since setting the record. Somehow, knock on wood, I've remained upright. I think I've been down only once since then. I just show up every night and bang them out."
Palone has moved within range of international career wins leader Heinz Wewering, who boasts 16,889 victories (as of Sept. 20), according to Hauptverband fur Traber-Zucht, Germany's equivalent of the United States Trotting Association. That's something of a moving target, since Wewering remains active in Europe.
"Ultimately, my goal is to catch Wewering, if it's meant to happen," Palone said. "I'd like to meet the guy and shake his hand because I know how hard he's worked."
Palone took a brief vacation with his family when The Meadows was dark in August while renovating its track, and he's planning another family trip in November. Generally, though, he hasn't slowed down.
In September, for example, he journeyed to Clarksburg, W.Va., to play in a Thursday-Friday golf tournament, engaged a plane to fly him to the Red Mile where he had a Thursday driving commitment, then hopped back on the plane to return to Clarksburg and the tournament. Alas, malfunctioning lights on the runway forced diversion of the plane to Pittsburgh. It was a tiring two days.
"That's part of the bouncing around that I really don't like," Palone said. "But I have been traveling less this year. My niche is showing up every night and grinding out wins."