- Posted: 6:18 PM, June 28, 2012
Filion won his first of 16 national dash-win titles in 1968, and in 1971, he passed Hall of Famer Billy Haughton to become the winningest driver in the history of the sport.
Filion says many things contributed to his 41-year reign at the top, with his total currently at 15,180 victories, but perhaps the most important was luck.
“I was very lucky, like when I play golf, I told them, ‘You’re going to see shots that are unbelievably lucky, don’t hold it against me, I was born that way’,” Filion said.
“You have to be lucky in anything you do in life. The right place at the right time and in the right situation."
Just four years after setting the record, Filion became the youngest person ever elected to Harness Racing’s Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. With a career chock full of stakes victories, it was hard for the Quebec native to come up with just one top moment.
“There are too many to mention. With me, it was not so much the money but the win. I loved to get my picture taken after a race,” Filion said.
Luck definitely played a part in one victory at Yonkers and found Filion in the right place at the right time.
“The biggest race I ever won on a half-mile track was [the $632,802 Breeders Crown] with Caressable,” he said. “Billy Haughton [Caressable’s trainer] comes to me and says, ‘Herve, if Billy O’Donnell gets here too late would you like to go with Caressable?’. So I told him take three guesses and the first two don’t count. Sure, I’ll go with her.”
Most of Filion’s career victories came on a half-mile track, which could bode well for his chances on Sunday in the Hall of Fame Trot on Historic Track’s half-mile oval in Goshen.
“I love the competition and I just hope I’m driving the best horse in the race. I know I can take him to the water and if he wants to drink, he’ll drink,” Filion said.
This year’s Hall of Fame Trot will be a once in a lifetime event, where, in addition to taking on seven other Hall of Fame drivers, Filion will also face off against Palone.
“I’m happy I lived long enough to see my record broken,” Filion said. “All records are there to be broken. I’ve had it long enough.
“God bless [Dave], he did a good job. He’s a good guy to do it. He’s a good driver and has a good reputation.”
Filion knows better than anyone that a record like this carries a great deal of responsibility.
“I could never say no if the race secretary or general manager would call me and say we’d like you to come and make an appearance,” he said. “I thought I owed it to the industry because harness racing was very good and kind to my whole family.”
And the best advice he can give to Palone is to enjoy what he’s doing, because the phone calls and invitations will come and it will be quite a ride, whether it lasts 41 years or not.
“Go out there and keep winning races because somebody some day is going to beat the record,” Filion said.