PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He’s already in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame; and by the end of next week, he may just be the winningest driver of all time.
The 30-year veteran is closing in on history at The Meadows.
First race of the day, first win of the day for Dave Palone. The master of the Meadowlands is inching closer to the North American harness racing record of 15,180 first-place finishes.
He’s been hooked since his very first race, 30 years ago.
“It’s fun to win races whether it be a claiming race or a major stake race,” said Palone. “The winner’s circle is a very happy place.”
His wife, Bethann, has a father and two brothers in harness racing.
“My little girls are two and five,” said Bethann. “They like to come out and support daddy. Every win’s just as exciting as the next.”
The 50-year-old driver prepares meticulously for each race, but still danger always simmers just below the surface. Like the night of April 10, 2007 when Palone didn’t make it to the finish line.
“The fellow in front of me, his horse fell, and the driver beside me and I hooked wheels,” said Palone. “I was actually catapulted off the race track and run over.”
“His femur shattered in like 40 places so he had to have pins in his hip and knee and a rod placed all the way down his femur,” said Bethann.
Though he wins an astonishing 40 percent of the time, he gives most of the credit to the horse.
“A lot of it is strategy with the drivers, but when it comes down to that last eighth of a mile, you can only urge them so much,” he said. “They’ve either got to want to do it or not.”