As he closes in on Herve Filion's all-time North American career win record of 15,180 - he needs two to break the mark entering Thursday's harness racing action - Dave Palone is remembering the horses who helped him reach the top.
Palone announced today that he will donate $1,000 each to horse adoption groups New Vocations and Standardbred Retirement Foundation in the names of the owner and trainer of the horse with which he sets the record. Filion has been the sport's all-time leader since 1971.
"I never dreamed I would break a record of this magnitude when I started my career, and to be mentioned with Herve when it comes to wins is an honor," Palone said. "But I didn't accomplish this alone. It was the investment of time and money by a lot of owners and trainers and the trust, talent and guts of a lot of Standardbred horses.
"In honor of all of them, I'm celebrating this record by donating $1,000 each to two groups that help keep our horses in useful careers when their racing days are over. I'll be sending a check to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation and New Vocations in honor of the people and the horses that helped make this record possible."
Judith Bokman, a founder of Standardbred Retirement Foundation, called Palone's generosity "wonderful news."
"Congratulations, Dave, and thank you," she said. "You're another great guy in racing who ‘gets it.' These horses give us a lot to be thankful for, and taking care of them when their careers end is the right thing to do. We have 158 Standardbreds in our care today, and we all appreciate your generous gift."
Palone, 50, a native of Waynesburg, PA, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2010 and is a six-time Harness Tracks of America Driver of the Year: 2009, 2008, 2004, 2003, 2000 and 1999. He has been the leading driver at The Meadows for 23 straight years and has a streak of 20 consecutive years with at least 532 victories.
The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (www.adoptahorse.org ) is a non profit,tax-exempt organization created to care for, rehabilitate and secure lifetime adoption of non-competitive racehorses, to ensure their proper care with follow-up, and combine the needs of youth at risk with these horses in therapeutic equine programs to benefit both.
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program (www.horseadoption.com ) was founded in 1992 to offer retiring racehorses a safe haven, rehabilitation and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes. Since its inception, New Vocations has placed nearly 4,000 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds in qualified homes. New Vocations has two scenic Ohio locations in Laura and Marysville. Other locations include: Lexington, Kentucky; Manchester, Michigan;Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, and Monterey, Tennessee.
Prepared by Harness Racing Communications and The Meadows