Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plano completes historic double at Vernon Downs

Rick Plano has proven once again that even in harness racing, age is only a number.

The 60-year-old native of nearby Frankfort, New York earned leading driver and trainer honors at the recently concluded Vernon Downs meet to become the first horseman since Del Richards in 1989 to sweep both categories during a full racing season.

Plano recorded 159 driving wins, 62 more than his closest pursuer.  He added 78 training tallies, three more than two-time defending champion Tracy Brainard.
"You always set out with goals but you don't say you want to be the leading trainer or leading driver," said Plano. "It's a prestigious thing and anybody that says it's not probably isn't telling the truth."

Plano missed the opening week of the Vernon Downs season but made an immediate impact when he arrived; winning four races his first night, one of six grand slams in 2012. He also recorded six wins on a single card in October.

"It obviously takes good horses to be the top guy," said Plano. "I drive for a lot of good stables and I have a good stable of my own. But the reality of it is the older you get the more you take care of yourself."

For Plano, that includes a daily workout routine he's sworn by for decades. The 25-minute regimen includes 250 sit-ups and some light dumbbell exercises. All of it keeps Plano in top physical shape while competing on a nightly basis against competitors who are frequently half his age.

"There's nothing to it," said Plano. "My wife is a workout gal herself. She tells me I don't do the crunches right but finally she gave in and said it works for me so that's good enough."

Plano posted his 6,000th career driving win earlier in the Vernon Downs season and has career purse earnings of more than $39 million since recording his first win in 1977.

He'll spend the winter hoping to continue piling up wins at Pompano Park in south Florida.