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WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 10, 2019 -- Continuing his harness racing comeback following a lengthy layoff, millionaire Il Sogno Dream overcame a demanding opening quarter and captured Tuesday's feature at The Meadows, a $12,700 Conditioned Trot. Although sidelined most of the first six months this year, Il Sogno Dream now has two wins and as many seconds in his last five outings. On Tuesday, he was three wide for much of the 27.2 opening panel before clearing to the lead for Aaron Merriman near the three-eighths. The 8-year-old son of Cantab Hall-La Reve held off the late charge of Gee Wizz George to down him by a length in 1:54, with Mac Deeno third. Chris Beaver trains Il Sogno Dream, who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $1,128,533, for Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. Tony Hall and Merriman each collected three wins on the 14-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a $2,412.72 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Custom Cantab (Aaron Merriman) captures the $40,000 fourth leg of the Miss Versatility at Tioga Downs on Friday (September 6). Emoticon Hanover (Aaron Byron) led the first quarter in :26.4. She continued to lead to the half in :56.3. Ice Attraction (Mike Merton) was the first to challenge as Emoticon Hanover led to three-quarters in 1:24.3. Custom Cantab ($4.00), who is owned by trainer Christopher Beaver, Donald Robinson, and RBH Ventures, was fourth after three-quarters. She would go four wide down the stretch to win in 1:53.0. Dream Together (Wally Hennessey) finished second with Emoticon Hanover settling for third. Custom Cantab is a 4-year-old mare by Mr Cantab. It was her third win this season. She now owns 18 career victories. Gigi From Fiji (Wally Hennessey) takes the $11,000 fillies & mares open 1. Gigi From Fiji ($8.30) went to the front and controlled all the fractions (:27.2, :55.3, 1:23.0, 1:52.0). She got challenged by second place finisher Truth And Liberty (Mike Simons). Gigi From Fiji, who is owned by trainer Mike Deters, L Barnett, and J Spindler, was not to be denied and held on for the win. Northern Dali (Fern Paquet Jr.) finished third best. Gigi From Fiji is a 5-year-old mare by Ponder. She won for the ninth time this year. She now has 18 career victories. Mike Merton drove five winners on the night. He won with Blurred Lines ($3.80), Choochoocharlie ($6.00), Roaring Rei ($6.50), Runhappy Ten ($9.00), and R M Blackhawk ($9.40) Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (September 7) with a 13 race card starting at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com. by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Juxta Cowgirl (Aaron Byron) captures the $12,000 featured fillies and mares open on Friday (August 2). Juxta Cowgirl ($21.40) went to the front and led to a first quarter of :26.1. Gigi From Fiji (Wally Hennessey) sat in the pocket and followed as Juxta Cowgirl led to the half in :55.3 and controlled the pace to three-quarters in 1:22.4. Juxta Cowgirl, who is trained by Mike Watson for owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC., and Glasser Racing LLC., led going to the stretch. Gigi From Fiji popped out of the pocket and came charging late but Juxta Cowgirl dug in and won in a seasonal best of 1:51.2. Gigi From Fiji settled for second. Gold Star Mysti (Corey Braden) finished third. Juxta Cowgirl is a 5-year-old mare by Relentless Yankee. It was her third win this season. She now has 34 career victories. Fern Paquet Jr. drove three winners on the night. He finished first with Gold Star Aurora ($3.80), Nothern Dali ($18.00), and Shutthefrontdoor ($10.80). Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (August 3) with a 10 race card starting at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 2, 2019 -- The ancient Greeks considered Nemesis the goddess of retribution, and for trainer Bill Bercury, his horse Major Nemesis often seemed just that, racing himself into repeated trouble when it appeared his speed lay over the field. In recent weeks, however, the 5-year-old Big Bad John-Nassau Loop gelding ripped off an impressive winning streak at Northfield Park and is back at The Meadows to show off his new, mannerly look. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday following a week's post-Adios break, and Major Nemesis and Aaron Merriman have drawn post 4 in the $18,000 Open Handicap Pace, which goes as race 7. First post is 1:05 PM. Bercury purchased Major Nemesis for owner Renee Bercury toward the end of his sophomore campaign on the advice of one of the horse's drivers. Recalls Bill Bercury: "He said to me, 'This is the fastest horse I ever sat behind. If you get him, you'll figure him out.' I didn't think it would take me a year to figure him out, although he's more than paid for himself. He's a wonderful horse to work with. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body." Early on for the Bercurys, Major Nemesis proved fast but furious. Bercury implemented a makeover by treating the horse's feet and throwing away his equipment card. "We took off his shadow roll, his head pole, his Murphy blinds," Bercury reports. "We rigged him with expandable hopples that stretch three inches and give him much more support. Give Aaron credit for that -- it was his idea." The results have been palpable. His four straight victories at Northfield included a pair of sub-1:50 miles in which he was parked most of the way. In his return to The Meadows on Adios Day, he finished fourth off a similar demanding trip. A win Saturday would vault Major Nemesis over $200,000 in career earnings. One of the major impediments will be his stablemate, Carolina Beach, who'll leave from post 5 in the same race. Bercury is pointing Major Nemesis to a pair of stakes for Ohio eligibles later this year, and he's confident that the horse no longer is bent on retribution. ""I qualified him myself and found him to be not that difficult anymore," Bercury says. "I think he's growing up." On the wagering front, Saturday's card features a $6,563.80 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

WASHINGTON, PA, June 11, 2019 -- Touchamatic, who saw her six-race winning streak snapped last week, took the first step to stringing together a new one when she exploded from the pocket lane to capture Tuesday's $18,000 harness racing Filly & Mare Open Pace at The Meadows. Touchamatic was content to stalk from the pocket for Aaron Merriman and let the front-ending Medusa do the heavy lifting. As they straightened out of the final turn, however, Merriman cut Touchamatic loose, and the 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch was by far the fresher mare. She scored in 1:51, 2 lengths better than Medusa, while Keystone Riptide rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Touchamatic, who lifted her career bankroll to $296,662, for Renee Bercury. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Merriman each piloted three winners on the 13-race program. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, first post 1:05 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Both of Northfield Park’s local pacing stars have accepted their harness racing invitations to Saturday’s $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie.   Dave Bianconi, the track’s Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, has assigned Bully Pulpit and Southwind Amazon 12-1 and 15-1 morning-line odds.  His customary assignments to them are outside posts in Northfield’s weekly Open Pace. “It is unusual to have two local horses in the Battle, but both of these appear to have the ability to compete on the big stage, explained Bianconi.  “This year’s race is totally wide open.  The local horses just add two more pieces to a very interesting puzzle.” Bully Pulpit is conditioned by Northfield Park leading trainer Brian Loney and owner Brad Schwartz of Chicago, a Cleveland native.  Saturday will mark the first time Loney will harness one of his trainees for a Grand Circuit event, but he feels good about his chances. “The way I see his (Bully Pulpit’s) competition is that I’m not in against them, they are in against me,” said Loney. Bully Pulpit goes to post off a three-race win streak in Northfield’s Open Pace, one of those wins being a 1:49.4 victory from post-8.  That 1:49.4 effort is the fastest clocking on any half-mile track in North America this year.  North America’s leading driver, Aaron Merriman, will guide the six-year-old from the two-hole. Southwind Amazon drew post-5 for trainer Paul Holzman.  The nine-year-old is trained at Sahbra Farms about 15 miles from Northfield, and was North America’s winningest horse in 2018 with 22 victories from 38 races, usually from an assigned outside post.  His regular pilot, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., will drive. “This is a quality field of horses and I wish a had a little better draw than the five-hole,” stated Holzman.  “My horse is very sharp right now and with some racing luck anything can happen.  If Southwind Amazon wins, I don’t know if I would be surprised, but I would sure be ecstatic.” The two local stars will face a stiff onslaught from invaders.  Rodeo Rock drew the rail and has been named the 3-1 slight morning-line favorite.  He was the runner-up in this year’s $664,000 Levy Final at Yonkers Raceway in April and enters this race off another runner-up finish in a $100,000 Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia.  The Robert Cleary trainee has four wins in nine races this year and seasonal earnings of $289,400.  Eric Goodell has been listed to drive.  Rodeo Rock has never raced at Northfield, but is owned locally by Royal Wire Products of North Royalton.    Indiana sired superstar Always A Prince enters this event with 20 victories in 26 lifetime starts.  The four-year-old won 19 of 22 races last year and has not missed the board so far in four starts this season.  He has been given a 7-2 morning line.  Always A Prince has a career bankroll of $515,855 and sports a 1:48.1 (HoP 7/8) lifetime mark, the fastest in this year’s field.  Trainer Tyler George brings Trace Tetrick to drive.     Ontario-based speedster Jimmy Freight drew post-7 and is the 4-1 third choice.  He was second in last year’s $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial in his only other race at Northfield.  Jimmy Freight has finished in the top three in 35 of 37 career races, taking a 1:48.3 (Wbsb 7/8) lifetime mark and earning $950,448.  Trainer Andrew Harris tabs Yonkers standout Jason Bartlett to drive.      The 2019 $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie field – Race 12 – 10:15PM approx. post time:   Post     Horse                          Driver                         Trainer                       Morning Line Odds 1          Rodeo Rock                Eric Goodell               Robert Cleary              3-1  2          Bully Pulpit                 Aaron Merriman          Brian Loney                12-1 3          The Wall                     Brett Miller                  Nick Surick                 9-2 4          Always A Prince         Trace Tetrick               Tyler George               7-2 5          Southwind Amazon    Ronnie Wrenn Jr         Paul Holzman             15-1 6          None Bettor A            Joe Bongiorno             Jennifer Bongiorno     6-1 7          Jimmy Freight             Jason Bartlett              Andrew Harris            4-1 8          Filibuster Hanover      Chris Page                   Ron Burke                   10-1   A $10,000 guaranteed Pick 4 has been added to the eleventh race.  The Battle feature will be the second leg of this wager, which offers a low 14% takeout rate.  Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the sport’s best veteran pacers. Past Battle champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Gallo Blue Chip, Maltese Artist and Foiled Again. In addition to superior racing action, Battle night will also offer guests a buffet in Lady Luck’s clubhouse dining room from 5:30 – 8:30 PM. The buffet is $19.95. Reservations are preferred and can be made by calling 330.467.4101. Guests who want to be down close to all the racing action can stop by the grandstand apron to visit Barrio, Pasta Tivo, Smash Time, Super Hero food trucks and Crooked Kettle Popcorn.  Live music by Unknown Reason will be part of the apron scene from 6 – 9 PM.  Battle night attendees can win cash, gift cards and more through prize drawings until 8 PM and play Pop-A-Shot from 8 – 9 PM.  First race post time is 6 PM.  Admission and parking are always FREE!   Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, May 30, 2019 -- Keystone Abbey has swept the first three legs of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series, but will she fare as well against tougher competition? She'll get her chance Saturday at The Meadows in the $70,000 Currier & Ives for 3-year-old harness racing filly trotters. The stake goes as race 6, with Keystone Abbey leaving from post 4 for Aaron Merriman. Chris Beaver trains the daughter of Cantab Hall-Miss Aultsville and owns with Donald Robinson, Martin Yoder and R.B.H. Ventures. First post is 1:05 PM. A daughter of Cantab Hall, Keystone Abbey sold for $15,000 at Lexington as a yearling and might have been expected to flash precocious speed. Her dam trotted in 1:59.2 in a 2013 Ontario Sires Stake Gold Series split, a Canadian record at the time for freshman fillies on a half-mile track. While Keystone Abbey wasn't exactly a disappointment at 2 -- she banked $54,625 -- she managed only a single win in 13 starts. "She always was good gaited and quick -- she was real natural," Beaver says. "She'd be in the race and then lose interest about halfway down the lane, then come on again at the wire. Maybe she was just green, but she didn't race to her potential. "She trained well at the start of this season, and it seems like she's turned a corner here recently. She's learned to race. In her last start, she never let them get close to her the whole mile. If her attitude has changed as it seems to have changed, I don't see why she wouldn't be able to be right there." Keystone Abbey may have her act together, but she'll have her work cut out for her Saturday, as the talented 10-horse field includes: - Nomo Volo, who's earned a win and a second in PA Sires Stakes this year but is stuck with post 9 for trainer/driver Jeff Gregory; -Fade Into You (post 2, Dave Palone) from the powerful Ron Burke stable, who has hit the board in three consecutive PASS divisions and finished second in the Weiss final at Pocono; - Altercation (post 1, Mike Wilder) and Meadowbranch Vicki (post 8, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.), a pair of improving fillies sent out by Jenny Melander. Beaver indicated Keystone Abbey will head next to the PA All-Stars at Pocono. "She is eligible to a couple better stakes later in the season," he says. "I'm just trying to keep her in the right class." Also featured on Saturday's card is the $20,000 Open Handicap Pace (race 8), which renews the "Battle of the Millionaires" -- Dapper Dude (post 4, Wrenn) and Dancin Yankee (post 7, Palone). The program also includes a $642.84 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WASHINGTON, PA, May 28, 2019 -- Touchamatic collected her sixth straight harness racing victory while Party At The Banks extended her winning streak to three in Tuesday's co-features at The Meadows. Touchamatic ripped off five straight at Northfield before putting her streak on the line in the $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace. The 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch released Medusa to the lead early, then blew by her in the lane and defeated her by 2-1/2 lengths in a swift 1:50.1. Magic Forces completed the ticket. Aaron Merriman piloted Touchamatic, who pushed her career bankroll to $282,662, for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Party At The Banks had a more demanding trip in the $20,000 Open Handicap Trot, parked every step from post 8. But she moved powerfully late for Dave Palone and drew off to down 42-1 long shot Tequila Talking by 3-3/4 lengths in 1:54.3, with Rising MVP third. The 5-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K-Beach Party As has been so dominant during her streak that her combined victory margin is 11 lengths. It was one of four wins for Palone on the 13-race card. Party At The Banks                             -Chris Gooden photo Ron Burke trains Party At The Banks, who now boasts lifetime earnings of 190,423, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, when the program features a pair of carryovers -- $2481.02 in the Pick 5 (races 2-6), $357.44 in the final-race Super Hi-5.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Leading Driver Aaron Merriman posted another big night at Northfield Park on Saturday (May 11) winning ten times on the 16-race program.   Merriman's monster night tied the Northfield harness racing record for the most wins on a single card. That record was set in 1999 by Walter Case Jr.   Aaron's triumphs were with The Lion Sleeps ($3.60) in race five, St Lads Maggie Mae ($3.60) in race six, Heythere Lisamarie ($2.10) in race seven, Designed To See ($8.60) in race eight, Nutmegs Yankee ($3.60) in race 10, It's Gest Me ($4.20) in race 11, Godiva Seelster ($7.00) in race 12, Red ($16.40) in race 13, Mayabelle ($3.40) in race 15 and Cookies Empire ($6.20) in race 16. Merriman was the leading driver in North America in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and is leading by more than 50 wins so far this year. Aaron has been driving since 1997 and has piloted 11,294 career wins and is approaching $75 million in purse earnings. Success over the Flying Turns is nothing new to Merriman. He has more wins than any other driver in Northfield Park's history.   Ayers Ratliff

Bully Pulpit captured the $16,000 harness racing Open Pace on Monday (May 6) in Northfield Park's 13th race. The 1:49.4 victory marks the first sub-1:50 race on a half-mile track this year. Brian Loney conditions the pacer for Bradley Schwartz of Chicago, IL. Aaron Merriman was in the bike for the winning drive. Bully Pulpit (Well Said-Cupcakesnwhipcream-Camluck) started from post eight. He was fifth through a brisk :26.2 opening quarter, then moved to second in the following panel and remained there through splits of :53.2 and 1:20.4. Merriman called upon Bully Pulpit in the stretch and he bested Southwind Amazon (Ronnie Wrenn Jr) by ½-length, stopping the timer at 1:49.4. Bully Pulpit and Southwind Amazon started the race tied at 1:50.1 for the fasted half-mile win this year. Monday's triumph increased Bully Pulpit's lifetime win tally to 19 and his earnings to $283,759. He returned $5.80 to win.   Jeffrey J. Zamaiko Ayers Ratliff

Harness racing driver Aaron Merriman had a monster night on Saturday (May 4) at Northfield Park by posting eight wins on the 16-race program. Merriman's triumphs were with Island Of Rock ($3.40) in race two, Mildred's Button ($14.80) in race three, Sweet To See ($3.40) in race five, Touchamatic ($2.40) in race nine, Love Forbidden ($2.40) in race 10, Wendy's Girl ($4.40) in race 13, The Lion Sleeps ($3.80) in race 14 and My Caroline ($2.60) in race 15. Merriman was the leading driver in North America in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and is leading by over 50 wins so far this year. Merriman has been driving since 1997 and has since posted 11,266 career wins and is approaching $75 million in purse earnings. Success over the Flying Turns is nothing new to Merriman. He has more wins than any other driver in Northfield's history. The 20¢ Northfield Single Six (a unique combination Pick-6) has accumulated a $20,232 carryover into Monday’s (May 6) program.  The Single Six offers a low 14 percent takeout rate and is offered nightly in race nine. The 20¢ wager is designed to offer handicappers large jackpots by carrying over 50 percent of its nightly pool until it is solved by a unique single ticket. Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 1, 2019 -- New Evidence stalked Stride Of Pride from the pocket before using the Lightning Lane to perfection to complete the 6-1 upset in Friday's $18,000 Preferred Pace at The Meadows. Stride Of Pride had plenty of pace left turning for home but couldn't match the 27.3 final panel of New Evidence, who prevailed in 1:52.2 over a "good" surface for Aaron Merriman. Dapper Dude also shot the Lightning Lane for second, 1-3/4 lengths back, while Stride Of Pride saved show. Herman Hagerman trains the 6-year-old Western Terror-Bouncing Hanover gelding, who lifted his career earnings to $122,630, for Northwind Farm. With his place check, the 10-year-old Dapper Dude vaulted over $1.3 million in lifetime purses. Dave Palone, Mike Wilder and trainer Ron Burke each enjoyed a triple on the 13-race card. In other highlights of the racing week at The Meadows: Wind Of The North Survives Late Scare In $20,000 Trot Wind Of The North had things his way on the point but had to hold off a late charge from the pocket-sitting TSM Photo Bugger to capture Monday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot. As TSM Photo Bugger closed in, Merriman asked the millionaire for more. The 9-year-old Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind gelding responded, downing the challenger by a neck in 1:56.1 over a "good" surface, with Explosive Leggs third. Bill Bercury trains and owns Wind Of The North, who now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $1,063,508. Jim Pantaleano and Wilder each collected three wins on the 13-race card. White Metro Pulls Off 16-1 Shocker In Top Distaff Pace Dismissed at 16-1, White Metro followed the live cover of Bontz N, then roared past her in the lane to score in Tuesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Pace for Mike Wilder, trainer Randy Bendis and owner Tom Pollack. The 7-year-old daughter of Metropolitan-Bye Bye Peachy Pie triumphed in 1:54.3 over a "good" surface, 1-1/2 lengths better than Bontz N, who was returning from a 4-1/2-month layoff and suffered her first U.S. defeat in four domestic starts. A trapped-in Camera Lady shook loose late to claim show. White Metro has banked $347,716 in her career. Palone fashioned a triple on the 13-race program. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, first post 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Harness racing driver Aaron Merriman scored the 11,000th win of his driving career while driving Brooklynite in Northfield Park's 10th race on Wednesday (Jan. 16). Brooklynite started from the second tier, brushed boldly and the half to take the lead and never looked back, winning by 5¼-lengths in 1:52. Merriman, 40, keeps a torrid schedule, regularly competing at Northfield Park and The Meadows. However, he also races at various other venues throughout the year. Aaron is the reigning North American dash champion. In fact, last year he became the first driver in harness racing history to post multiple 1,000-win seasons. In 2013, Merriman became the youngest inductee into the Northfield Park Wall of Fame. He has won more races at Northfield than any other driver in the track's history. Last year, he broke the record for the most Northfield wins in a single season, posting 711 scores over the Flying Turns in 2018. Aaron's talents have also been noticed on the national stage. He was just voted Harness Racing's Driver of the Year for 2018 and will officially receive this award at the annual Dan Patch Awards Ceremony in Orlando, Florida in February. Merriman's richest win came in a $300,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Final aboard Palazzo Princess. Aaron's fastest win was race timed in 1:48.3 aboard Kanaris at Scioto Downs in September, 2014. Merriman remembers his first win as being aboard a pacing mare named Albert's Filly at Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio. Although there are 11,000 to choose from, Merriman says that he is definitely partial to his first, "It always feels great to win a race. I have had the same elated feeling every time I have been to the winner's circle," explained Merriman, "But that first one felt especially nice." Aaron has sat behind countless horses, but one sticks out to him above all others: "I will always feel indebted to Midnight Jewel. She made me look good every week and really helped my career blossom." Merriman started driving at the age of 21 and appreciates the successful 19-year career he has experienced so far; accomplishing the 11,000-win milestone and purse earnings in excess of $72,000,000. "I've had a great run for a long time and so many owners and trainers that have helped me," said Merriman. "There are a lot of people who work very hard every day to keep racing alive and well and I just feel fortunate to be part of it." Ayers Ratliff

Harness racing driver Aaron Merriman won 1141 races in 2018 to post the second-highest single-season total of all-time.   As this is written (Sat 6 p.m.), the USTA computer has Merriman second in North America in 2019 with 11 wins.   Ahead of him is a driver who won 14 races at Dover Downs earlier this week ... Tim Tetrick, who is the only driver to have eclipsed the 1141 figure posted by Merriman last year, with 1189 in 2007!   ... If only the horses were that easy to handicap! ...   Jerry Connors Jr

Northfield, OH -- When Aaron Merriman scored his 1,000th victory of 2018 to be come the first harness racing driver to have multiple 1,000 seasons, who knew records would continue to fall. On Thursday (Dec. 27), Merriman became the winningest single season driver in the history of Northfield Park. Merriman scored his 707th victory of the year at the Home of the Flying Turns in Race 11 when he guided Gwally (David Russo) to victory. The previous record holder was Walter Case Jr., who had 706 victories in 2001. Merriman has been the leading driver at Northfield Park six times, and he is on track to lead the "Turns" again in 2018. "I wasn't aware of the number until a few days ago," chimed in Merriman. "It's been a magical year that I don't feel I can repeat. Thank you to Northfield Park for allowing me to call this home," he continued. Merriman put Gwally ($3.00) on the lead and never took his foot off of the gas pedal. He made the lead early and only had to deal with a slight challenge from Mesmerized who tired late in the stretch. It has been a spectacular season for Merriman who as of Thursday night has 1,127 victories in 2018 and $10,413,731 in the bank. Merriman was able to accomplish this feat in just under 5,000 drives this season. For Merriman who scored his 10,000th win in March, "winning never gets old." by Michael Carter, for Northfield Park

HARRISBURG, PA - Aaron Merriman, the first driver to win over 1000 races in two consecutive years and set to post the second-highest one-season victory total in North American history, has been selected as Driver of the Year in a vote among members of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's leading media group. Merriman is only 40 years old, but he is already a "veteran" of 20+ years of the sulky wars, learning from his father Lanny, mostly at Northfield Park near Cleveland. He had 182 winners in 2000, his first year of full-time exposure, but he has been gaining with every step, with 10,857 victories in the 21st century and 6926 visits to Victory Lane in the first nine years of the this decade. Merriman will post the second-highest win total for a driver in harness racing history, behind only Tim Tetrick's standard of 1189 in 2007; Aaron was at 1118 after Wednesday's racing. This total eclipses his personal best of 1093, taken last year, and this year he has reached another important milestone with his mounts earning over $10.3 million - his first eight-figure season. And the level of competition Aaron faces at the main terminals of his endless miles on the road is very high - at Northfield, he consistently races against Ron Wrenn Jr., who was the last person to dethrone him for the national title (2014, by a 847-841 count), and at The Meadows near Pittsburgh he competes against Dave Palone, the winningest driver of all-time (18,640 and counting), and the leading pilot at The Meadows since shortly after high-wheeled sulkies went out of fashion, so it seems. Reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.org; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2018 journal is online at the writers’ website). Information about purchasing tickets for the dinner will become available and will be posted shortly. From the United States Harness Writers Association

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