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Merriman Scores 8,000th Win

Published: March 1, 2016 10:55 pm ET

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Aaron Merriman scored the 8,000th win of his driving career while driving Watcha Got Abby in Northfield Park’s sixth race on Tuesday evening.

Watcha Got Abby boldly left from the gate and led her competition from start to finish, winning by one-quarter of a length in 1:58.2.

Merriman, 37, 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 and his talents have been noticed on the national stage. Merriman has competed in some of the biggest races in harness racing. In August 2013, Merriman became the youngest inductee into the Northfield Park Wall of Fame.

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 Alberts Filly at Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio. Although there are 8,000 to choose from, Merriman says that he has no favourite win, “It always feels great to win a race,” explained Merriman, “I really don’t have a favourite. I have had the same elated feeling every time I have been to the winner’s circle.”

Aaron has driven many talented horses, “It would be hard to say the best horse I have driven,” thought Merriman. “I have been truly blessed to drive a lot of nice horses in our sport’s signature races.”

Aaron has sat behind countless horses, but one sticks out to him above all others: “I love to drive Tamarind. He is small and has a lot of problems, but he gives his all each and every race.”

Merriman started driving at the age of 21 and appreciates the successful 16-year career he has experienced so far; accomplishing the 8,000-win milestone and purse earnings in excess of $46,000,000.

“I’ve had a great run for a long time,” said Merriman. “There are so many owners and trainers that have given me opportunities and I will be forever grateful to them. The chances I have been given are unbelievable and I wish I could thank them each individually. The horses deserve credit too -- they are the ones who carry us around the track and deserve the real credit for my 8,000 wins.”

(Northfield Park)

THE MEADOWS, MSOA HONOR MERRIMAN FOR HIS 8,000th VICTORY

On Wednesday, the Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association honoured Merriman.

For Merriman, 37, an Ohio native, the milestones have been piling up quickly. He notched win number 6,000 in October 2013 and reached 7,000 in January 2015. Thus, he’s rolled up his most recent 1,000 victories in only 13 months.

“The milestones seem to be coming one right after the other,” Merriman said. “But they’re always milestones to me. I celebrate them, even if it’s only in my thoughts and feelings.”

In recent years, Merriman, harness racing’s ‘winningest’ driver in 2015, has been competing at the Meadows by day and Northfield by night, a pace that’s contributed to the rapid-fire rise in his win total. But he often drives two cards per day and logs many frantic highway miles, a performance that’s earned him a number of speeding citations. He expects to keep double-dipping for the foreseeable future.

“It’s actually better for me when Northfield and the Meadows race the same day,” he said. “When the cards are piggy-backed like that, I get two full days off. That really helps. I know I can’t do this forever, but now is the time to do it.”

The gregarious Merriman once confided to an interviewer that if he weren’t driving Standardbreds, his dream job would be that of a U.S. Postal Service carrier because he would get to interact with so many people. Reminded of that just before his 8,000th win, he said he’d never qualify for that job now because of all those traffic tickets. He appreciates the irony.

“I couldn’t get my dream job because of my driving record,” he said.

(Meadows)

(Aaron Merriman, being honoured at the Meadows)


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