Tony Hall is one of the top drivers in Pennsylvania, yet he always relishes the chance to display his talents at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
With several of the Big M regulars at Pocono Downs for stakes action, Hall will be a busy sulky sitter this Saturday, and a television guest on In The Sulky before the races.
Hall, 34, has had a productive month at the Big M. On June 9, he scored two wins for the Burke barn, Rockweiller and Thebestofjoel. Both pacers went wire-to-wire in career best times. Last Saturday, Hall won notched a triple with Bestjetyet, Flipper J and Shoobee’s Place.
A regular at The Meadows Racetrack in PA, Hall has over 3,400 career wins and recently passed the $26 million mark in purse earnings. He currently has 170 wins and earned $1.8 million this season.
“I’m from southern Ohio [Middletown] and started my racing career at Lebanon Raceway,” said Hall, who won several driving titles at the half-mile oval. “My father [Floyd] and brother [Terry] raced horses as a hobby, and they worked other jobs. My brother still trains horses. So, I grew up doing it with them. I’m the only one in my family to take it to a full time level. I eventually drove the Lebanon-Scioto Downs circuit, then I went to Northfield Park. That’s where I won my biggest race, the Courageous Lady with Sand E Fiftyfive. I came to The Meadows full time in early 2005.”
Despite the perennial dominance of Hall of Famer Dave Palone at The Meadows, Hall has been able carve out a successful niche for himself at the five-eighths mile track.
“It’s very competitive here at The Meadows,” admitted Hall. “We race a lot here. We’re in 15, or sometimes 16, races a day. It’s a strong driver colony and it definitely fuels my desire to win. I have my share of good streaks here. My main clients at The Meadows are trainers Andy Rickert and Ryan Angus, yet I drive for several others.”
Hall also caught the eye of the powerful Ron Burke stable.
“Mickey Burke [Ron Burke’s father] actually gave me a shot way back in 1998 at Scioto Downs,” recalls Hall. “I was just a young kid starting out and I just happened to be there one night. They put me down on a trotter in the Invitational, and he raced well to finish second. Ever since then, if the stable is racing elsewhere I pick up assignments for them when their everyday drivers are out of town.”
Being a regular at The Meadows, Hall covets the track’s signature race, the Adios.
“One my most memorable moments came when I drove Mega Hall in the 2005 Adios for Randy Bendis. In the first elimination, I got beat a head by Village Jolt [the eventual overall winner]. We finished fourth in that final. It was my first year here and it was a great opportunity to race at that level.”
Hall says he always enjoys his trips to the Big M and the challenge of making the adjustment to the mile track.
“It’s the same kind of high excitement to be there every time. You’re going to an elite place. It’s the horsemen, the atmosphere and everything. I also tend to be a little more aggressive, and since I’m only there a few times, you really want to get the most out of every drive and the experience. I might eventually like to try it there full time, but right now we have a family and a small stable here in Pennsylvania. It just depends on when the top drivers head out of town, but I’d like to come there every Saturday.”
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