Day At The Track

Jim Morrill Jr. reaches 7,500 win plateau

12:52 PM 22 Nov 2020 NZDT
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Jim Morrill, Jr., harness racing Love The Dragon, harness racing
Jim Morrill, Jr. after scoring his 7,500 career win
Paul White photo
Love The Dragon gives Jim Morrill, Jr. his 7,500 career win
Fred Brown photo

Batavia, NY --- Harness racing driver Jim Morrill Jr. hit another milestone in his illustrious career after he steered Love The Dragon ($3.00) to victory in the third race at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 21) to reach 7,500 wins lifetime. In his typical style, Morrill went right to the front, rated a perfect mile and was a wrapped-up winner in 1:58.3.

To date, Jim Morrill Jr. now has 40,273 starts with 7,500 wins, 6,220 seconds and 5,152 thirds with $108,289,933 in earnings. Morrill currently sits 13th in North America for UDR with a mark of .380. At the current Batavia Downs meet, Morrill is the leading driver with 86 wins, $426,956 in purse money and a UDR of .381.

Morrill made his first start driving for his father at Foxboro Park in 1984. The family's operation eventually moved to Rosecroft Raceway where Morrill started getting many catch drives and soon found himself in high demand. In 1990 Morrill went to New York and started driving for Ray Schnittker and George Anthony at Yonkers Raceway and with much success achieved there, decided that move would be long term.

During his time competing at the New York/New Jersey circuit Morrill recalled his most memorable race as being the 2004 Meadowlands Pace where Holborn Hanover was a 58-1 upset winner in 1:49 to equal the stake mark.

After 15 years of driving at the highest level, Morrill left the metropolitan area in 2005 and relocated his family and business to western New York and since arriving has not only been at the very top of the driver colony on that circuit, but also an annual dominant force in the New York Sire Stakes.

In 2006 at Batavia Downs, Morrill set the all-time driving standard for the track with 177 wins and a UDR of .537 for one meet.

Long Train Runnin showed a lot of heart and determination as he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 21). 

Long Train Runnin (Shawn McDonough) got away third as Stratosphere (Drew Monti) took the scratch-shortened, single-file field to the half in :58. As they passed that station, Long Train Runnin was already out first-over and moving fast towards the leader as they proceeded into the clubhouse turn. 

Moving towards three-quarters, Stratosphere and Long Train Runnin were pacing side-by-side and had broken away from the pack by three lengths on the strength of a :27.3 third panel. As they were rounding the final bend, Stratosphere pulled clear and opened up a length advantage heading into the stretch. But the relentless urging of McDonough reinvigorated Long Train Runnin who found another gear and caught Stratosphere at the wire by a head in 1:54.2.

It was the fifth win of the year for Long Train Runnin ($6.10) who has now earned $32,552 this year for owner WIlliam Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. does the training.

Emmons and Clouser teamed up again in the very next race to capture the $7,500 Open II Handicap with McSpidey (Jim Morrill Jr.) who went wire to wire by 2-¼ lengths in 1:54.4. It was also the fifth win for McSpidey ($2.40) who is now over $343,000 in lifetime bank. 

Shawn McDonough had a huge night at Batavia on Saturday, driving four winners and sending two for pictures that he trained. McDonough steered the aforementioned Long Train Runnin, Are You In (1:58.2, $22.40), Santana Beach (1:56, $25.80) and Nesh Cruiser (1:58.1, $27.40), who he also trained along with PL Lester (1:54.3, $10.20). 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 25) with post time at 5 p.m. and there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 on Wednesday. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for races one through five will be available on the USTA and Batavia Downs websites early next week.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

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