by Frank Carulli
June 27, 2017
Herve Filion, the third-leading driver in North American history, died Thursday at age 77 after a long illness.
Filion retired in 2013 with 15,179 wins and 16 year-end driving titles. He was the youngest driver ever to be elected into the U.S. and Canada Hall of Fames in 1975 and 1976, respectively.
Filion won his first race at age 13 at Rigaud racetrack in his native province of Quebec. He came to the U.S. in 1961 and was a dominant force at Brandywine, Liberty Bell and other Delaware Valley tracks. In 1968, he became the first driver with 400 wins in a year and re-established the record several times in the years to follow.
He guided Nansemond (1971) and Hot Hitter (1979) to Little Brown Jug victories, Graded Singing to victory in the 1986 Maple Leaf Trot and Breeders Crown Mare Trot, and he enjoyed multiple stakes wins behind millionaire Dorunrun Bluegrass, to name a few. Filion finished with $88.4 million in earnings.
Filion won his 15,000th race at Dover Downs on Nov. 2, 2003. He was in attendance at the The Meadows on July 5, 2012, when Dave Palone surpassed him as the all-time leader, a gesture Palone will remember forever.
“Having him there meant so much to me,” Palone told Ken Weingartner of the U.S. Trotting Association. “He was so supportive and so encouraging when I was getting near the record. He kept telling me I was going to do it. I thought it was cool to have him in my corner. ... To this day it doesn’t seem right to me that I have the record. There’s only one Herve. I don’t think I could ever replace Herve as the legend that he is.”
IN THE XPRESSLANE: The Meadowlands will host a retirement celebration for Hall of Famer John Campbell this Friday, June 30, the final night of Campbell's illustrious driving career. The celebration will include an autograph session from 6-7 p.m., a poster giveaway while supplies last, contest giveaways with Campbell-signed memorabilia and a video tribute to the sport's most accomplished driver ever. ... Brent Holland guided Delightful Dragon ($7.40) to a front-end victory in Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 preferred handicap pace last Friday for the 5,000th driving win of his career that began in 1989. ... Hannah Miller won 32 races and represented the U.S. with a second-place finish in the International World Cup in Budapest, Hungary to be named Amateur Driver of the Year for the second consecutive season. ... The USTA will conduct a racing officials accreditation program Nov. 7-14 at the The Meadows in Pennsylvania. Application deadline is October 20. ... Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek, ranked among the top 20 U.S. meeting hotels by Cvent, will host the 2018 Dan Patch Awards banquet, it was announced recently.