McNeight drives 1,000th career winner
January 02, 2019
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He had to beat the richest Standardbred ever to do it, but David McNeight III collected career win 1,000 Monday at The Meadows when he piloted Knocking Around to victory in race 10.
The race was styled “Foiled Again’s Last Call,” as it marked the final race of Foiled Again, who faced mandatory retirement Jan. 1 when he turned 15. McNeight and Knocking Around, however, weren’t intimated by Foiled Again’s career bankroll of more than $7.6 million, as they powered up first over to prevail in the slop. Foiled Again finished fifth.
McNeight, a native of western New York who has compiled just less than $6 million in purses, learned the business under the tutelage of his father, trainer David McNeight, Jr., the conditioner of Knocking Around.
“My dad worked for General Mills for a while, but he got back into the business in 2008 when I was 18,” he says. “I was cleaning stalls and grooming for him, but when I watched the drivers winning races, I wanted to do the same thing.”
McNeight cut his teeth on the half-mile ovals at Buffalo and Batavia. When the McNeights relocated to The Meadows about two years ago, he found that the most difficult aspect of the transition was not the switch to a five-eighths-mile track. Rather, it was holding his own against The Meadows’ talented, experienced drivers.
“The driver colony here is deep,” he says. “You definitely want to get away close to the lead when you’re racing against Dave Palone, Mike Wilder, Jim Pantaleano and all the Ron Burke horses. It’s more challenging, but at the same time, it’s more rewarding.”
The younger McNeight also trains three horses — he’s their sole owner — and doesn’t foresee a time when he’ll want to specialize in training or driving exclusively.
“I’d like to add to my own stable and keep driving for my father and other stables,” he says. “Having other owners for my horses would be good, but right now it seems better to own them myself.” (The Meadows)