Harness Racing Royalty

By Tim Kelchner | tkelchner@pahomepage.com

Published 05/02 2014 07:26AM

Updated 05/02 2014 07:44AM

Plains Township, Luzerne County – Nearly 40 years, and 5000 wins later, and Joe Pavia is still going strong.

It hasn’t always  been easy for the Utica, New York native. 

The horses are faster, the drivers more skilled, and the technology improvements have been unbelievable, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the 6 a.m. start time each morning.

“The group comes in after they’re done training, gives them a nice 2 bucket bath, walks them, puts a blanket on them, and then they go on to the next horse,” said Pavia as he describes the daily routine.  “We do this all through the day until they’re all done.”

Pavia has 22 horses, he brought 12 of them to race at Pocono Downs this weekend. 

Out of that group, he says “Westward Hanover” is the one with the brightest future and you’ll see him in action on Sunday. 

“He’s got to be tested yet.  He’s green, and good, and 2-for-2 so far, he’ll be tested Sunday, and from here on, he’s got to show us what he’s got.” 

Racing in Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, Pavia has seen some of the top tracks across the country, but he says the speed and quality of Pocono Downs is what makes it one of the top venues. 

“The Meadowlands had the best horses in the country, we have the best horses in the country racing week in and week out now.”

As he prepares for another busy weekend on the track, he knows he isn’t going to win all the races, but he just needs one. 

“Some days are tough, some nights are tough, some weeks are tough, but that one win gets you up the next morning, you have your coffee and say let’s do it again.” 

Harness racing at Pocono Downs starts at 11 a.m. Saturday.  Coverage of the 140th Kentucky begins at 4 p.m. and you can watch it on WBRE.   

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