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WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 12, 2018 -- Wind Of The North won a four-ply battle for the early lead, then held off the challengers late to prevail in Monday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows, one of five victories for Aaron Merriman on the 13-race card. Merriman gave Wind Of The North a 29.1 breather after that spirited opening panel, enabling him to withstand the determined first-over bid of Classic Banker and down him by 1/2 length in 1:55. PL Jerico rallied for show. Bill Bercury owns and trains Wind Of The North, an 8-year-old Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind gelding who lifted his lifetime bankroll to $1,016,258. Merriman, who added a pair of seconds and a fifth in his eight drives, also scored for trainers Sarah Andrews, Robert Barnard, Spencer Kahrig and Gerald Lee, Jr. Jim Pantaleano also enjoyed a big Monday with three wins. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday, when the program features a pair of carryovers -- $1,952,89 for the Pick 5 and $871.60 for the Super Hi-5. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadowlands

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 5, 2018 -- Rising MVP pulled the pocket near the three-quarters, powered past the leader and coasted to a comfortable victory in Monday's feature at The Meadows, a $13,000 Conditioned Trot. Rising MVP was stalking Banker Volo when Aaron Merriman cut him loose. The 3-year-old My MVP-Nutmegs Winner gelding had little trouble negotiating the "good" surface, scoring in 1:55.1. Media Buzz was second, 1-1/2 lengths back, with Explosive Leggs third. Bill Daugherty, Jr. trains Rising MVP, who now boasts $181,762 in career earnings, for Susan Daugherty. Tony Hall, Dan Rawlings, Wilbur Yoder, trainer Rich Gillock, owner Bob Key and Merriman each enjoyed a double on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Man He Can Skoot paced home for his 50th career victory, winning the 7th race at Northfield Park on Tuesday (October 30). The nine year-old veteran, with 220 career starts, also has 45 seconds and 21 third-place finishes. Man He Can Skoot (Mantacular-Scoot'n By-Direct Scooter) has career earnings of $440,167 with a lifetime mark of 1:51 at Northfield Park at age six. The pacer's richest win was for a purse of $23,000 in a conditioned race at Yonkers Raceway in 2014. Man He Can Skoot is a well-traveled campaigner -- his 50 wins have been spread across 17 different racing surfaces. Man He Can Skoot started from post-7 and sat fourth through early :27 and :55 fractions. He pulled to the outside and took the lead in the third-quarter and led the remainder of the mile in times of 1:24 and 1:53, besting his competition by a full length. He returned $11.60 to win. Brian Loney trains Man He Can Skoot for owner Bradley Schwartz of Chicago, Illinois. Aaron Merriman was aboard for the winning drive. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

DAYTON, OH.- Safe From Terror and Another Breath shared the Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway spotlight on Friday (Oct. 19) by copping the co-featured open events. Heavily-favored Safe From Terror (Aaron Merriman, $3.20), a 6-year-old daughter of Western Terror who became a millionairess in July, outdueled a stubborn pacesetting American Girl (Dan Noble) by a nose in a 1:53.2 mile over a damp track. Gone Girl (Kayne Kauffman) used a ground-saving trip and a nice closing kick to finish a close-up third in the $16,500 Mares Open. American Girl cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:24.4 before closing in :28.3-only to be caught in the final stride by Safe From Terror, who raced first-up on the outside the entire final lap. Owned by Big Bad DT Racing Stable and trained by Mike Conklin, Safe From Terror now sports 56 wins in 136 trips to the post, good for earnings of $1,030,401. Another Breath (Dan Noble) charged out of the seven slot behind the starting car to gain command early and play catch-me-if-you-can with the full field in the $18,500 Open Trot. After posting fractional times of :27.4, :56.4 and 1:25.1, Another Breath had just enough left in the tank to hold off Pine Dream (Kayne Kauffman) and Optimist Blue Chip (Jeremy Smith) in 1:55.2. The winning 5-year-old gelded son of Lou's Legacy, who paid $12 to win, has now captured 16 of his 82 career starts and produced a bankroll of $337,890. It was the fourth win on the evening for driver Dan Noble, who also trains Another Breath for owner Richaard Mishkin. Racing resumes at Hollywood Dayton on Saturday night with a 6:15 p.m. post time. From the Dayon Raceway Media Department    

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 16, 2018 -- Wind Of The North, a speedy, rugged and durable trotter throughout his career, vaulted over $1 million in lifetime earnings with an in-hand victory in Tuesday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. The 8-year-old Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind gelding has won 47 of his 160 lifetime starts and banked $1,005,098. Wind Of The North retook the lead with a quarter-pole move for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Bill Bercury and had little trouble turning aside the first-over bid of Call For Justice. He scored in 1:55.4, 2-1/2 lengths better than early leader PL Jerico, with Cantab Lindy third. Wind Of The North took his 1:51 mark at Pocono at 4 and enjoyed his most productive years in 2015-2016, when he collected $489,352. In 2015, he won the Chip Noble at Scioto Downs and was second in the Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands. Tony Hall piloted three winners on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

The final session of the 2018 Ohio Sires Stakes season wrapped up Saturday night, October 13 at Northfield Park with eight $60,000 consolation divisions for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers of both genders. Driver Aaron Merriman captured three of the eight OSS events, while Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., won two of the $60,000 contests. Merriman took the first event with an easy, 1:57.2 front-stepping performance aboard 2-5 Bella's Rose Power, a freshman daughter by Triumphant Caviar co-owned and trained by Chris Beaver in the 2-year-old filly trot. Bella's Rose Power upped her earnings to $80,135 with the victory, her second in nine starts. She is owned in partnership with Beaver, along with breeder Marion Beachy, J. Gallagher and Steve Zeehandelar. The talented reinsman next guided 6-5 Infrontandforgetit to a perfect-trip scoring 1:58 mile for trainer Jim Arledge Jr. in the 3-year-old filly trot. The sophomore Dontyouforgetit lass sat behind the pace-setting 6-5 To Russia (Ryan Stahl) until the wire, when she overpowered rival Bugs MVP (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) by a neck to notch her sixth career win. Lifetime, Infrontandforgetit has $95,726 in her coffers for G. & W. Buckey, M. McLoughlin and Spring Mill Ventures. Merriman returned to the Northfield winner's circle with 1-5 favorite Yankee Boots, a Steve Carter trainee in the 2-year-old colt and gelding pace. The son of Yankee Cruiser used wire-to-wire tactics to capture his tenth start in 15 tries in 1:53.2 for the partnership of Carter, Grubbs, Carter & Whitacre, finishing a neck ahead of the hard-trying 7-2 Seattle Hanover (Chris Page). Yankee Boots now has $123,010 in earnings from this latest victory. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.'s first score came with 6-1 Bad Sammie in the 2-year-old filly pace. The freshman Big Bad John lass picked a perfect time to break her maiden in 1:55.3 for Patty Roth and Alan Keith. Trained by Mike Roth, Bad Sammie pushed her lifetime bankroll to $60,065 as she finished half a length in front of even-money favorite Officially My Way (Jason Thompson). Wrenn, Jr., next reined 9-5 favorite Dragonology to victory in the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace for trainer Ronnie Burke and owners Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and Aws Stables. Dragonology took the lead from the start and never looked back, in front at ever quarter pole throughout the mile. The sophomore gelded son by Dragon Again took his second seasonal win and fourth lifetime victory in 1:53.1, and now has $158,167 in earnings. Canadian reinsman Anthony MacDonald steered 2-1 Westfiftysecond to a front-stepping 1:58 victory in the 2-year-old colt and gelding trot for trainer Jason McGinnis and Thestable Westfiftysecond. The gregarious youngster was 7½ lengths in front at the wire and now has $54,832 in his lifetime coffers for his owners, who comprise a group of 31 partners. The Doug Rine trained and co-owned 1-5 favorite Dance Withsomebody had no problem establishing his dominance in the 3-year-old colt and gelding trot with Robin Miller aboard. The Dejarmbro gelding was clocked in 1:56.1 and was never challenged throughout the one mile test. He's now earned $122,512 for Rine and co-owners Richard and Thomas Rine. The 3-year-old filly pace provided fans with a heart-stopping finish as 9-5 Princess Rougarou and driver Chris Page stopped the clock in 1:53.2 with a come-from-behind effort. The homebred Big Bad John lass is owned, trained and was bred by George Hensley, Jr., and upped her earnings to $119,652 with her seventh lifetime win in 31 starts. by Kimberly Rinker, OSDF Administrator  

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 11, 2018 -- Delcrest Magicstar let Expose Yourself do the heavy lifting, then blew by her in the Lightning Lane to pull off the 12-1 upset in Thursday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. A recent acquisition by Tom Pollack, Reed Broadway and Randy Bendis, who also trains, Delcrest Magicstar stretched out Expose Yourself on the "good" surface before yielding to the pocket. She poured through the Lightning Lane for Aaron Merriman to defeat Expose Yourself by 1-1/4 lengths while Glidinthruparadise also shot the Lightning Lane for show. The 4-year-old daughter of Majestic Son-Star's Balance boosted her lifetime bankroll to $189,669. Tony Hall piloted three winners on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

The Ohio Sires Stakes Consolations for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers of both genders will be contested this Saturday evening, Oct. 13, at Northfield Park. First race post time is 6 pm, ET. The day features a full realm of Buckeye State racing, with Thoroughbreds spotlighted at nearby Jack Thistledown, as they break from the Cleveland gait in five $150,000 stakes for Ohio-bred runners. Freshmen and sophomore Standardbreds not eligible to the $275,000 OSS Championships on Sept. 7 at Scioto Downs, have a chance to redeem themselves via these eight $60,000 OSS Consolations. These youngsters may have captured an OSS leg during the past season but failed to garner enough points to enter the rich Championships. Thus, by virtue of their points earned, the remaining top eight horses will now vie in the final OSS contests of the 2018 season. Bella's Rose Power is one such filly. This Chris Beaver trainee garnered checks in three of her four OSS legs for owners Beaer, Gallagher, Beachy and Zeehandelar. The Triumphant Caviar lass comes into the 2-year-old filly trot (Race 1) with $50,135 in her coffers and a mark of 1:58 taken in an overnight score at Scioto Downs on Sept. 5. TC's Best and Ilooklikeanallstar both won an OSS leg early in the season. These two are the standouts in the 2-year-old colt trot (Race 3). TC's Best won his first leg for trainer and co-owner Chris Beaver, but was less successful the remainder of the season, earning $29,043. Ilooklikeanallstar, won his OSS second leg in 1:58.1 at Scioto in his only check-earning effort of the series for trainer Kim Dailey and owner Virginia Powell. This son of Ilooklikemymom has earnings of $34,286 from two wins in nine starts. Dragonfly, a Dragon Again filly, was fourth and fifth in the first two OSS legs in her division, then didn't start in the last two legs. Trained by Chris McGuire, Dragonfly comes into the 2-year-old filly pace (Race 4) with a five-race win streak intact and $38,535 in her coffers. Likewise, Officially My Way is riding a four-race win streak as she paces into this consolation for trainer/owner Ron Randall. This Art Official distaff has $43,263 in earnings from 10 wins in 16 starts, and although she failed to win an OSS leg, did garner third, fourth and fifth-place checks in the three legs in which she participated. Yankee Boots finished a solid second in the fourth OSS leg for 2-year-old pacing colts, then promptly won his last three events, including the $40,000 Buckeye Stallion Series Final (BSS) one week ago. This Yankee Cruiser gelding starts from post three (Race 6) for trainer Steve Carter. He has nine wins in 14 starts and $93,010 for owners Carter, Grubbs, Carter and Whitacre. To Russia notched checks in all four of her OSS starts for trainer Scott Cox, and just missed getting into the Championship. However, she did win a series of Ohio Fair Stakes, earning $66,302 this year to date. The daughter of Manofmanymissions heads up the 3-year-old filly consolation (Race 5). Infrontandforgetit finished third in her lone OSS start, and since captured a $15,000 BSS division and the $40,000 BSS Final at Northfield last week for trainer Jim Arledge, Jr. This winner of $65,726 lifetime starts from the rail in this same event. The 3-year-old colt and gelding trot (Race 7) appears to be a wide-open race, with the Hugh Beatty-trained and driven Secret Bro garnering the slight nod. This Dejarmbro gelding was unraced as a freshman and was fourth and third in his first two OSS legs before opting out of the last two contests. He scored in a $15,000 BSS leg and was third in the BSS Final. Secret Bro is owned by Stephen Sexton and has $38,855 in his bankroll from three wins, two seconds and four thirds in 16 starts this year. Sweetnfamous hails from post two for trainer Virgil Morgan in the 3-year-old filly pace (Race 8). This Yankee Cruiser sophomore skipped her first OSS leg, then was third, fourth and second in the remaining legs for the Let It Ride Stables of Boca Raton, Fl. Though she's had only four wins in 17 starts this season, Sweetnfamous sports a healthy bankroll of $87,651 for her connections. Trainer Ronnie Burke sends out a one-two punch in the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace (Race 9) with Super Pac Hanover and Dragonology. The former gets the benefit of the rail, while the latter has drawn the six-hole. Super Pac Hanover is a $42,550-earning gelding, while Dragonology has $128,167 earned lifetime-both by the ill-fated Dragon Again. Another son of Dragon Again, the Kimberly Dailey-conditioned Drew The Dragon, also is worth watching in here. The winner of $70,338 comes into this race fresh off a win in a Dayton overnight on Oct. 4 in 1:52.2. by Kimberly Rinker, OSDF Administrator             Kimberly Rinker   OSDF Administrator   Ohio State Racing Commission   77 South High Sreet, 18th Floor   Columbus, Ohio 43215   614-779-0269   Kim.rinker@racing.ohio.gov      

Northmedo Mission became the fasted harness racing sophomore gelding trotter in the history of Northfield Park when he won a $10,500 conditioned trot in 1:53.3 on Tuesday (October 9). The previous mark was 1:54.3 and held by both Star Buster (Aaron Merriman) in 2017 and Get The Cash (Greg Grismore) in 2018. Mike Medors trains the trotter for owner Northmedo Stable of Painesville, Ohio. Aaron Merriman was in the sulky for the winning drive. Northmedo Mission (Manofmanymissions-Northmedo Blessing-Striking Sahbra) started from post two. He left from the gate and led every call through fractions of :27.3, :56, 1:24.1 and 1:53.3, destroying his competition by 11 ¼-lengths. Northmedo Mission now has six wins in 18 starts this year. Tuesday's victory represents his 10st career score and bolstered his bankroll to $115,778. He was heavily favored and returned $3.20 to win. Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $35,000 20¢ Super High Five total pool guarantee to Wednesday’s (October 10th) program.  Offered in Race 13, the $35,000 20¢ Super High Five guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $10,634.77. Northfield’s 20¢ Super High Five offers a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.    Wednesday’s post time is 6:00 p.m. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 2, 2018 -- Wind Of The North turned back the determined uncovered bid of Call For Justice and collected his third straight victory in Tuesday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Wind Of The North had to step lively to reach the leaf from post 7 in 27.3, but when Aaron Merriman gave the 8-year-old Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind gelding a 30.2 second-quarter breather, he was refreshed and ready for Call For Justice's challenge. Wind Of The North downed him by a length in 1:54.3, with the pocket-sitting Classicality third in the Lightning Lane. Bill Bercury trains and owns Wind Of The North, who now boasts $991,598 in career earnings. Dave Palone piloted four winners on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

$82,200 Buckette Filly Trot Ohio bred Looking For Zelda (Matt Kakaley) capitalized on a break in stride by the leader Bella Glos (Yannick Gingras) and won the three-year-old filly trot over Kenziesky Hanover (David Miller). Bella Glos led the field past the first three quarters of the mile, but made a costly break in the final turn. Looking For Zelda, who was sitting second, inherited the lead and held off a closing Kenziesky Hanover in 1:54 4/5. The Break The Bank K lass is conditioned by Norm Parker for Robert J. Key. Looking For Zelda is nearing $400,000 in career earnings after she won for the twelfth time in 22 career starts. $39,318 Standardbred Filly Pace Dragonfly (Aaron Merriman) and Pretty And Fast (Yannick Gingras) battled through the lane, but Dragonfly stuck a nose in front in the shadow of the wire to score a mild upset in the $39,318 Standardbred pace in 1:55 1/5. The Dragon Again lass is co-owned by trainer Chris McGuire, Brian Carsey and John McGill. Dragonfly paid $16.40 to win. $40,918 Standardbred Filly Trot Nomo Volo made easy work of the compact field of five in the $40,918 Standardbred Trot for freshman females. Driver Yannick Gingras sent the daughter of Explosive Matter for the early lead and went gate-to-wire in a lifetime best 1:56 4/5. Summit City Swan (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) and Keystone Abbey (Aaron Merriman) were second and third. Jeff Edwards trains for D. L. Dennis, F. A. Wilson and Dolne FM Services. $127,800 (div.) OBC Two-Year-Old Filly Trot Only Take Cash became the latest member of the "Ohio Triple Crown" club with her win in the 2nd division of the OBC for freshmen filly trotters. See Me Sparkle (Jim Pantaleano) and Only Take Cash (Aaron Merriman) battled down the backstretch, but See Me Sparkle made a break in stride and Only Take Cash cruised to a 1 3/4 length win over a pair of Chris Beaver trainees, Stone In Love (Chris Page) and Pure Country (David Miller) in 1:56 2/5. The Cash Hall filly is owned by the Robert McIntosh Stables, Dave A. Boyle and Mardon Stables and trained by the Hall of Famer Bob McIntosh. Only Take Cash won the Ohio State Fair and Ohio Sires Stake Championship earlier in the year. The first division went to Vivi D (Kyle Ater) in a stakes record 1:56 1/5. The Broadway Hall filly is owned by Kirk Nichols and trainer Dan Ater. Bella's Rose Power (Aaron Merriman) was 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner and Aunt Rose (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) finished third another two lengths behind. $106,200 (div.) OBC Three-Year-Old Colt Trot Mission Accepted returned to his winning ways in the first division when he defeated Pass The Vape (Dereck Watiker) and Dontforgetmaster (Josh Sutton) in a stakes record 1:54 2/5. The Manofmanymissions colt started the season four-for-four, but was held winless in his last five until today's score. With the win, Mission Accepted has pushed his career earnings to $314,524 for Knox Services Inc., trainer Jeff Cox and David Wills. In the second $53,100 division, Aaron Merriman piloted Rising MVP to a gate-to-wire win in 1:54 4/5. MVP Luke (Dan Noble) was second and Sand Cash (Chris Page) was third. Susan Daugherty owns the My MVP gelding who won his 15th in thirty career starts. $15,000 (div.) OBC Aged Trot Party At The Banks (Chris Page) got up in the final strides to collar the pacesetting A Tc Queenie (Dan Noble) to take the first division. The final time of 1:53 4/5 established a new stakes record. The old record was established by A Tc Queenie last season. Party At The Banks, a Break The Bank K mare, is owned by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. In the second $7,500 division, Jailhouse Sam and driver/trainer Hugh Beatty, Jr. took the lead from Full Surge (Tim Tetrick) in the final turn and cruised home in 1:54. Rose Run Sydney (David Miller) was second and The Next Triumph (Yannick Gingras) was third. The four-year old Victory Sam gelding is owned by Casey Clemens of Malta, Ohio. The 22 race Jug Day Card on Thursday will begin at 11:00 AM. by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug

Delaware, Ohio based trainer Brian Brown was holding all the cards in the $120,900 Ohio Breeders Championship for freshman filly pacers taking three of the top four places, including the top two finishers, Carmen Ohio and High Reward. When the starting gate released the field of eight, driver Ryan Stahl sent Carmen Ohio for the lead from post #1. Stablemate High Reward (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) was also sent for the lead, but had to overcome post 6. Carmen Ohio and High Reward traded the lead through the opening quarters of :28 2/5 and :59 1/5. Stahl quickened the pace in the third quarter in :1:27 3/5. Wrenn popped out of the pocket and tried to collar the leader but came up a neck short in 1:55 1/5. The Panderosa filly is owned by Milton Leeman, Steve Manning, Brent Meizlish & William Calvert. Sugar And Spite (Tyler Smith) took the third spot from another Brown trainee Ni Me Bonita (Dan Noble). In the $12,800 OBC Aged Pace, Docdor Friskie and Tyler Smith led gate to wire to win by a length over the pocket sitting Barley Up (Chris Page) in a stakes record 1:51 4/5. Docdor Friskie is the 5-year-old Feelin Friskie gelding is owned by Miller Racing Stable of Greenville, OH. In My Dream (Brady Galliers) took the fastest of the three divisions of the $15,000 Buckeye Stallion Series for sophomore colt trotters in a lifetime best 1:55 1/5. In My Dream is a Winning Fireworks gelding owned by Galliers Racing of Defiance, OH. Secret Pro (Hugh Beatty) and Fleet Cessna (Dan Noble) took the other two divisions in 1:57 1/5 and 1:57 respectively. The pair of divisions of the Buckeye Stallion Series for three-year-old filly trotters were also contested. Infrontandforgetit (Dan Noble) scored in 1:56 1/5. In the second division, Cindi Hall (Aaron Merriman) was placed the winner after Kellie's MVP (Ray Paver) was disqualified for interference in the first turn. Stephen Oldford representing the Delvin Miller Amateur Drivers Association won the Tim Fouts Memorial Driving Championship. Oldford drove Arch Hanover to a 1:57 score over H-And-N Dho Hailey (Mariah Wright) and Badger Quinn (Alesha Binkley). The Fouts Memorial brings together representatives from amateur drivers clubs from across the country. The Billings Amateur Trot divisions went to I'll Tell You What (Richard Roach) and Sebiskit Bluegrass (Joey Putnam) in matching 1:59 2/5 miles. Monday's 14 race card will start at 3:00 PM, with the simulcast program on the air at 2:30 PM. Monday features $101,700 Ohio Breeders Championship for sophomore trotting fillies and a $5,000 guaranteed Pick 4 (races 8-11).   Jay Wolf

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 12, 2018 -- Rebounding from an uncharacteristic break, Barn Girl rolled to an easy front-end victory -- her 28th over the last two seasons -- in Wednesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. When Barn Girl jumped it off at Scioto Downs as the 1-2 favorite and finished seventh, it marked the first time in 18 starts that she wasn't first or second. Aaron Merriman remained aggressive with the 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie, gunning her to the point in 27.2. She shrugged off the first-up challenge of Dreamsteeler and defeated her by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:53.2, with Glidinthruparadise third. Barn Girl is now 55-106 in her career for a gaudy win percentage of 52.4. She's earned $734,668 for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Brady Brown and Merriman each piloted three winners on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the The Meadows

Columbus, OH --- On Saturday evening (Sept. 8) at Eldorado Scioto Downs, Split The House (Aaron Merriman) demonstrated why he is the defending Breeders Crown champion with a 1:49.1 triumph over Nuclear Dragon (Dan Noble) in the $250,000 Jim Ewart Memorial. Merriman and his charge stated their case when leaving with conviction from post position six. Nuclear Dragon, however, snatched the front to lead the field through a sharp :26.2 first quarter-mile.Filibuster Hanover (Tony Hall) was third, with Western Fame (Tyler Smith) and favored McWicked (David Miller) dead-heating for fourth on the sloppy track. Noble continued to sulky-sit as Nuclear Dragon paced his splits in :53.2 and 1:20.4. It appeared the 6-year-old gelding was on his way to his first Grand Circuit victory. That is until a resurgent Split The House rallied on the rail to win by a neck and collect his second victory of the season in nine starts and 14th in 39 career efforts. Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Split The House is trained by Chris Oakes. He has now earned $306,846 in 2018 and $913,179 lifetime. He paid $12.20 to win, while Nuclear Dragon was $9.20 to place and Filibuster Hanover $17.40 to show. by Kim French, for the USTA

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 8, 2018 -- Looped from the gate, Phoenix Warrior N nevertheless overpowered a distinguished field en route to his second straight victory -- and 11th this year -- in Saturday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. A 27.1 opening panel in the slop tested him, but Phoenix Warrior N opened a daylight lead for Jim Pantaleano and prevailed in 1:51.1, 1-1/4 lengths better than Windsong Leo, who rallied from an early break to earn place. The pocket-sitting Vague Traces was third. Scott Betts trains Phoenix Warrior N, an 8-year-old Jereme's Jet Never Walk Alone gelding who now boasts $324,823 in career earnings, for Timothy Betts, Nick Catalano and Stephen Moss. Aaron Merriman had eight drives on Saturday's program and made the most of them, collecting five wins, a second and a pair of fourths. Two of those victories were for trainer Bill Rhoades and owner Leah Rhoades. Dave Palone, Pantaleano and trainer Marcus Marashian each enjoyed a triple on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the card features a pair of Keystone Classics -- a $92,499 stake for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters and an $82,700 event for freshman filly pacers. First post is 1:05 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Aaron Merriman has spent the past several years winning harness races at an unprecedented pace. And his pace has not slowed at all this year, putting the 40-year-old driver in position to make history again. Merriman won eight races Tuesday, four each at The Meadows and Northfield Park, to push his yearly total to 713. He is 201 victories ahead of Ronnie Wrenn Jr. as he attempts to lead North America in wins for the fourth year in a row and extend his record for the most consecutive seasons with at least 800 wins to five. Last year, Merriman became only the fourth driver in history to surpass 1,000 wins in a season, finishing with 1,095. It was the second-best total ever, trailing only Tim Tetrick's 1,189 in 2007. No driver has ever won 1,000 races twice, much less done it in consecutive years. But guess what. Merriman is ahead of last year's pace for victories. Entering Sept. 5 last season, Merriman had 710 wins. "It's exciting," Merriman said. "I do the best I can to focus on each day and not look (at statistics). I guess if it's close, then it's probably attainable. It will definitely be in the back of my mind. If the opportunity continues to be there, hopefully I can knock it out. "I'm sure it will be hard to repeat. No one has ever done it, and it's not because of a lack of talent. I think it's the grind. It gets to you. The work you have to put in and the traveling you have to put in is probably what gets to people more than anything. It's not just about talent. It's your mental state and physical state and being able to stay sharp." Merriman, who lives in Northfield, Ohio, competes primarily at Northfield Park and The Meadows in western Pennsylvania, which is a 270-mile round-trip commute. He has won 437 races at Northfield, where he leads Wrenn by 30 victories in the battle for the track's driving title, and 165 at The Meadows, where he is third in the standings despite competing in fewer races than anyone in the top six at the track. In addition, Merriman has won 65 races at Scioto Downs and had 46 victories at Miami Valley. "The traveling is grueling," Merriman said. "It's hard to always feel at your best. I still have the same love, maybe even more, but being in the car a lot is tough. I try hard every day to bring the same attitude and same enthusiasm and desire. Some days are a little tougher than others, but I fight through it. "I take pride in that, to be able to stay sharp and run the schedule that I do. I'm way more proud of being a hard worker than anything else." Reaching 1,000 wins this year seemed unlikely when The Meadows closed for a month beginning in late January because of an outbreak of equine herpes virus. But Merriman, who has 50 fewer wins at The Meadows compared to this time last season, has overcome the lost time thanks to increased win totals at the other tracks. "I've also chosen to leave The Meadows a little earlier than I used to (to get to the races at Northfield)," Merriman said. "I've been more efficient with the work I've gotten. It's going good. It's nice to be able to go to another racetrack and get a couple quality drives each time you're there. It makes you feel good that people actually want you to drive for them. I'm very appreciative of that." He also made up for lost time by winning 118 races in July, the most for a driver in any month since Tim Tetrick's 121 victories in November 2007. Merriman has won 10,537 races in his 21-year career, with more than half those victories coming in the most recent seven years. He could become the first driver to win four consecutive North American dash titles since Mike Lachance in 1984 through 1987. "For me personally, to put pressure on myself on a daily basis to reach certain numbers is something I've never wanted to do," Merriman said. "I think it helps me to take it day by day. Setting goals is a great thing and can make you work harder, but I think I work hard enough as it is. I try to focus on race to race and day to day. That's the way I've been for a while and I just try to make every day the best I can. "That's not just racing, but in life. My dad always says that every day you wake up it's like Christmas. You've got to treat it that way. It's a blessing." And although Merriman does not compete on the sport's biggest stage -- the Grand Circuit -- on a regular basis, he is more than happy with his place in the sport. "You hear so much about the Grand Circuit all the time, and I've been blessed to participate many times myself, but I honestly feel like I represent the Midwest or the people that are grinding it out every day," Merriman said. "I genuinely feel that way. I'm not representing myself, but what makes this business go around, which is the everyday racing. "Some guys get their names in lights all the time, but I'm happy just to have my name in the program." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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