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Can Merriman Three-Peat?

Published: December 30, 2019 9:25 am ET

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After becoming the first driver to attain 1,000 wins in back-to-back seasons, Aaron Merriman is only seven wins away from eclipsing that milestone for a third straight year.

Six wins on Sunday night's (Dec. 29) program at Northfield Park have propelled Merriman to 993 tallies on the year with two days remaining. The 41-year-old Ohio native won 1,095 races in 2017 before achieving career-high numbers of 1,143 wins and over $10.5 million in purses last year.

As is his custom, Merriman is slated to drive at both The Meadows and Northfield on Monday (Dec. 30); neither track offers racing on New Year's Eve.

Merriman is listed in six races on the afternoon card at The Meadows — including five of their Holiday Claiming Series finals, and all of his drives present as credible chances despite only having one morning-line favourite: Cherry Peep, who was claimed by Andy Rickert out of a third-place finish in series action on Dec. 11, in the $24,500 ninth race for upper-level claiming trotters.

Following the 10th race at The Meadows, Merriman will travel northwest on Interstate 76 to Northfield, where he is listed on 12 horses on the evening card — only two of which are listed at longer than 4-1 on the morning line. Among his drives are Headsaregonnaturn, who rises from two dominant conditioned wins to take on Open II company in the fourth race; and Vague Traces, the 2-1 second choice in the fifth-race Open I after a 1:50.3 conditioned win two starts back.

Merriman has long enjoyed success at the suburban Cleveland oval, and 2019 has been no exception. All told, 674 of his 993 wins this year have come at Northfield, and he holds a commanding 202-win advantage over Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the driving standings.

And if recent performances are any indication — Merriman won two races at Northfield on Friday (Dec. 27) before capturing eight races between both tracks on Saturday (Dec. 28) — the chance to achieve harness racing's first "triple-quadruple" is not an unreasonable one.

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