Day At The Track

Tony Morgan hits win No. 15,000

07:02 AM 28 Mar 2015 NZDT
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Tony Morgan
Tony Morgan
Mark Hall - USTA photo

Tony Morgan on Friday afternoon joined Dave Palone and Herve Filion as the only North American harness racing drivers with 15,000 career wins when he guided Lightning Moon to victory in the first race on opening day at Harrah's Philadelphia.

The 56-year-old Morgan was joined by a large crowd, including fellow drivers, in the winner's circle.

Lightning Moon won by 4-3/4 lengths in 1:53.4 to give Morgan the milestone triumph. Steve LeBlanc trains the 9-year-old gelding pacer for owners LeBlanc Racing, Robert Laham, Gregory Laham and Jeffrey Franklin.

"It's nice to be recognized by your peers, but it probably means more to my family than to me," Morgan said earlier this week. "I get my kicks out of just working every day. I like that. I like the daily grind. I like the competition and keeping busy.

"It's another feather in my cap, I guess, so it's nice. And it gives my family something to talk about. That's nice too."

Morgan, who was born in Ohio, rose to prominence in Chicago and now calls the Delaware circuit home. The son of driver/trainer Eddie Morgan Jr., himself the winner of 4,724 races, Morgan got his first win one month shy of turning 15 in 1973.

In 1995, Morgan led all drivers in North America in wins, and captured the title again in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2008. From 1995 through 2009, he was never out of the top 10 and racked up 10,695 wins during that span.

Morgan was Harness Tracks of America's Driver of the Year in 2006, 2002, 1997 and 1996. He is one of only three drivers to win more than 1,000 races in a year, totaling 1,004 in 2006.

Horses driven by Morgan have earned $117 million in purses, good for 13th place on the all-time list.

Palone leads all harness racing drivers in the world in wins, entering Friday with 16,937. Germany's Heinz Wewering is second on the worldwide list, with more than 16,760, followed by Filion and Morgan.

Morgan could pass Filion's total of 15,183 wins sometime this summer. The two competed against each other in the mid-2000s, following Morgan's move to Delaware from Chicago, and Morgan said following in Filion's footsteps was special.

"Of course, he's been almost every driver's idol forever," Morgan said. "He was a great guy and a great driver and he outworked everybody for years and years. I guess that's kind of the model I've always followed. I've tried to stay as busy as I can, and the more practice you get, the better you get at it."

Ken Weingartner

 

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