Sooner, hoped the track, because now the flowers were ready and Robert A. Glasser, chairman of the New York Stale Harness Racing Commission, was on hand to preside over the ceremonies. It was another cold, windy night, and in the first race Filion finished next to last. The crowd of 13,329 groaned and fell back into the warm enclosures beneath the grandstand. For his second drive of the night—and his 1,978th of the year—Filion had a horse named Thunder Royal. In the paddock somebody noted that it would be fitting if Filion could get No. 500 with this particular horse. The overwhelming majority of his lifetime wins have come behind claimers, cheap and otherwise, and Thunder Royal. an 11-year-old, was not only the oldest but also one of the cheapest horses in his stable.
Leaving from the No. 2 post, Filion dropped Thunder Royal into the fourth position for the first quarter mile. He took the lead just before the half and still held it as the field hit the stretch. "It's all over now." said a groom, and indeed it was. As the crowd cheered them home, Filion and Thunder Royal drew away to a two-length victory.
Barbara Filion came out of the stands to smile and shiver at Herve's side while the cameras flashed away. The track gave Filion $500, one dollar for each win. A wreath of" white carnations, red roses and blue plastic something-or-others was placed around the neck of ol' Thunder Royal, who had never received so much attention and affection. Then Filion led his horse back to the paddock, exchanging wisecracks with fans along the way.
Filion paused only momentarily to accept congratulations and chat with the press. What more could he achieve? Well, either late this year or early next he should pass Billy Haughton's career record of 3,445 wins, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that Haughton is 16 years up on the 31-year-old Filion. "All I want to do now." said the champ, "is win more and more races." With that he hurried out into the frigid night to get a horse moving toward the next race.