DAVID M. PALONE
The “Winningest Driver of the 1990’s,” in the ratings of the Harness Tracks of America. Dave Palone, has solidified his place among the top drivers in the entire world of harness racing.
He had the top winning percentage among harness drivers in the last two years and is thus among the sports highest money winners. In 2000, Palone had 728 wins and purses of $3,217,383. That brought his lifetime totals to 7,581 victories and purses totaling $89,689,857, placing him eighth in the world. He has been the winningest driver at The Meadows track here for 11 straight years.
A native of Waynesburg, Palone was bitten by the harness racing bug at age 15 when trainer Herman Hylkema let Palone jog a horse owned by Dave’s father, Butch Palone of Rices Landing. He went to work with Hylkema after graduating from Jefferson-Morgan High School and became Hylkema’s second trainer before moving on to The Meadowlands in New Jersey to continue his education as a trainer.
Returning “home” to The Meadows in 1987 and 1988 he established himself as a driver with a future in the sport and in 1989 his 316 wins made him the track’s top driver. His success at The Meadows has resulted in his being entrusted with a number of the top horses that visit here. In 1991 he went on the Grand Circuit with a three year-old trotter, Dontellmenomore that won seven of ten starts before being shipped overseas.
Another top horse for Dave has been the pacing filly Maudlin Hanover, trained by Dave’s brother, Mike, who had seven wins and three thirds in ten starts in 1998 with earnings of $135,610. In 1999 she had six wins and winnings of 0,158. He was the exclusive driver of Miss Nittany, a trotting filly that turned in seven wins and five seconds in 18 season starts, winning $194,085.
In the 1999 season, Palone won The Meadows’ premier event, The Adios. Piloting Washington VC to a 1:55 triumph in his ,184 Adios elimination.
This dynamic combination then won the $284,331 final by two and three quarters lengths over Triple Crown champion, Blissful Hall, in a time of 1:52.3.