All-Time Leading Driver Back Amid Reciprocity Debate
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2002 2:37 PM
Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2002 2:28 PM
Standardbred racing's all-time leading driver, on the sidelines since 1995 after his involvement in a wire-tap investigation, is scheduled to return to the track June 23 at Harrington Raceway in Delaware.
Herve Filion, now 62, had won 14,783 harness races before his driving career was put on hold. Though he was cleared by courts in New York, he has failed to obtain a license from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in the state where he won many of his races.
"I have done nothing wrong," Filion told the Delaware State News. "Nothing to justify my treatment by New York."
Filion is a harness racing legend who perfected the art of driving doubleheaders on many race days. He would race at Freehold Raceway in the afternoon, and then fly by helicopter to New York, where he drove in the evening at Yonkers Raceway and defunct Roosevelt Raceway.
He also made his mark at two defunct Delaware Valley harness tracks, Brandywine Raceway and Liberty Bell Park. He drove his last race at Yonkers.
"Even though I haven't driven in a while, I've been working with horses right along," Filion told the newspaper. "I'm in top physical condition and I'm ready to go."
Despite New York's move, Pennsylvania granted him a license earlier in June. On June 17, Delaware followed suit. The re-licensing has raised concerns in the pari-mutuel industry over the practice of reciprocity, whereby jurisdictions honor each others' decisions.
"After reviewing everything upon receiving his application, I could see no reason to deny him the right to race in Delaware," said Don Harmon, the Delaware Harness Racing Commission's presiding judge.
Filion said his goal is to reach 15,000 wins. For comparison's sake, Laffit Pincay Jr. is Thoroughbred racing's all-time leading jockey with more than 9,370 wins.
At Harrington, Filion will compete against Eddie Davis, with whom he dead-heated for most victories in a season in 1981. Davis just became the ninth driver to win 8,000 races when he turned the trick at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland.
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