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WASHINGTON, PA, April 26, 2016 -- Smokinmombo kicked off her 4-year-old campaign in grand fashion Tuesday at The Meadows when she rolled to a comfortable victory in the $22,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot. Smokinmombo banked $306,652 at 2 and 3 but hadn't raced since Oct. 30 and was facing a distinguished field of older mares. When Aaron Merriman sent her to the front with a quarter-pole move, the daughter of Explosive Matter-Horizontal Mombo scored easily in 1:53.4, matching her career-best race mark. She Wore Red rallied for second, 3 lengths back, while Barn Girl shot the Lightning Lane for show. Chris Beaver trains Smokinmombo and owns with Synerco Ventures and James Gallagher. Tony Hall, Jim Pantaleano and Merriman each piloted three winners on the 14-race program. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, April 11, 2016 -- Hooves On First shot the Lightning Lane to capture a division of Monday's second leg of the Do Me Honor Pace at The Meadows. Sweet You took the other $17,500 split in the event for 3-year-old fillies. The championship leg of the series is set for Monday, April 18. Away third for Aaron Merriman, Hooves on First waited patiently until the Lightning Lane beckoned. She shot past the leader, Stirling Euphoria, and defeated her by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:55.2 in the slop. Wasaga Beach earned show. Dean Santantonio conditions the daughter of Yankee Cruiser-Modern Medicine and owns with Absolute Return Stable and Regency Group Stable. In the $24,800 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Spreester made it two straight when she moved three wide into the final turn and powered home in 1:53, a neck better than 60-1 outsider Fox Valley Charm. Early leader Show Runner was third. Merriman drove the 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Rodeo Spree, who extended her career bankroll to $443,671, for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Mike Wilder piloted four winners, including a pair for trainer Ray Romanetti, while Dave Palone fashioned a triple on the 15-race card. For more information, please see: by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Dublin, Ireland - The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is proud to announce today that North America's leading dash winning driver in 2015, Aaron Merriman, is committed to coming to Ireland for the Delaney Memorial Weekend, August 13 and 14, 2016. "I was shocked when I got the invite," Merriman said. "I have read about the race, knew that George Brennan went last year and had a great time and now I am getting to come over this year, what a great honor this is." The 37-year-old Ohio native is coming off a career-best harness racing season in 2015, capturing his first North American driving title and earning a personal-high $7.40 million in purses. His 873 victories last year were the most for a dash-winning champion since Tony Morgan's 959 triumphs in 2008. Merriman is one of only three drivers --- joining Morgan and Tim Tetrick --- to win at least 800 races in back to back years. In 2014, Merriman won 841 times, but finished six victories behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the No. 1 spot. Over the past 10 years, Merriman has won an average of 618 races per season. "Our committee board was ecstatic that Aaron agreed without even flinching to come over for the VDM this year." Said Derek Delaney, who along with his brother James, developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial in honor of their younger brother who tragically passed away in 2011. "Aaron is a world-class driver," Delaney added, "And we are sure to show him a great time here both on and off the track. He will be sure to have some good drives at Portmarnock Raceway both on Saturday and Sunday." The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers with elimination divisions on Saturday and the finals on Sunday. For the first time this season there will be a separate filly division, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm in the USA. Also on the program that weekend is the Oakwood Stud Derby, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial, The RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Stable plus other big stakes events. When it comes to his heritage, Aaron says he will fit in just fine. "My father's family is British and my mother is Swedish and Irish," Aaron said. "I think I will fit in perfectly. "I'm VERY eager to experience another continent with harness racing," Aaron said. "I've never left North America before. I've checked out some of the history of this race and have read about the great enthusiasm and real love for our sport that they have and it is so heartwarming. "Harness racing is definitely a sport where people are joined together all around the world," Aaron said. "To be offered this opportunity to represent America and show my patronage to Ireland and the UK horsemen and fans is once in a lifetime and I was not going to pass it by. I'll thoroughly embrace my days there." Merriman is already on a roll in 2016. He has a commanding lead in the driving standings in North America with 214 wins, 54 ahead of his nearest rival, Jason Bartlett. And Merriman has $1.5 million in purses won already with a Universal Driving Rating at an impressive .356, second only to Bartlett. "Missing a week of racing back home is nothing compared to the adventure that awaits me in Ireland," Aaron said. "I can't wait for the second week of August to come. And I will not be homesick because Roger Huston will be there calling the races!" For more information visit By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial  

Escape The News took advantage of a sizzling three-quarters and pounced late to score in 1:49.1, matching the harness racing track record, in Saturday’s $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Unlocked was on a mission on the lead, clicking off three-quarters in 1:21.1 and frustrating most would-be challengers. Not Escape The News, who moved first over from third for Aaron Merriman and nailed Unlocked by a nose. Hall Bro was third. The time equaled Atta Boy Dan’s track record for older geldings. Brewer Adams trains the 7-year-old son of Artiscape-Ideal News, who now boasts $711,976 in career earnings, for Kevin Sywyk. Saturday’s card also featured two second-leg divisions of the Walter Russell Memorial Pace for 3- and 4-year-old colts, horses and geldings, with Connecting Flight and Dr Drake Ramoray each taking a $12,000 split. It was the second straight series win for Connecting Flight, and if anything, it was easier than his opening-leg romp. The 4-year-old Panspacificflight-Shares Rebound gelding zipped to the front for Dave Palone and steadily widened, scoring in a career-best 1:51.1. Stone Fire Hanover rallied for second, 6-3/4 lengths back, while Keystone Dylan held show. Kevin Johnson conditions Connecting Flight for Erv Miller. Merriman piloted four winners on the 15-race program while Tony Hall and Palone each fashioned a triple. Evan Pattak

Aaron Merriman scored the 8,000th win of his harness racing driving career while driving Watcha Got Abby in Northfield Park's 6th race on Tuesday (March 1). Watcha Got Abby boldly left from the gate and led her competition from start to finish, winning by ¼ 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 Albert's Filly at Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio. Although there are 8,000 to choose from, Merriman says that he has no favorite win, "It always feels great to win a race," explained Merriman, "I really don't have a favorite. 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." Ayers Ratliff

My Buddy Liz opened a daylight lead at the three-quarters but had to hang tough late to capture the fastest division in Monday's opening leg of the Donna Dunn Memorial Pace at The Meadows for harness racing 3 and 4-year-old fillies and mares. Tricky Girl and Call Me Little Terror, each piloted by Mike Wilder, took the other $12,000 opening-leg splits. The series honors the memory of the late Donna Dunn, a longtime Standardbred owner and wife of the late Walter "Boots" Dunn, the accomplished trainer, driver, breeder and United States Trotting Association director. Away third for Aaron Merriman, My Buddy Liz made the lead easily with a first-over burst and drew off by 6 lengths. But she had to find more to hold off the rallying Shark Gal by a nose in 1:56.3, a lifetime mark. Wasaga Beach earned show. Dave Zito owns and trains My Buddy Liz, a 4-year-old daughter of Badlands Hanover-Taylorlane Action. In the $20,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Spreester kept to her task when her cover broke in front of her and went on to score for Merriman and owner/trainer Bill Bercury in1:52.3, matching her career best. Set Me Up shot the Lightning Lane for second, 3/4 lengths back, with Champagne Shower third. With the victory -- her second straight -- the 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Rodeo Spree vaulted over $400,000 in lifetime earnings. Tony Hall, Merriman and Wilder each collected a triple on the 15-race card. Register now for The Meadows Live Bankroll Handicapping Contest set for Saturday, March 5, with a guaranteed $5,000 prize pool. Cost is $100, with $50 allocated to the prize pool and $50 to each player's bankroll. Registered players can enjoy the free lunch buffet in the Triple Crown Banquet Room and will receive a free March 5 Meadows race program. Winner gets 50 percent of the prize pool, with 25 percent for second place, 12 percent for third place, 8 percent for fourth place and 5 percent for fifth place. To register now, call 724.503.1509 or visit the Retail Center in the Racebook. Event-day registration begins at 11:30 AM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Big Game Hunter bagged a sweep of the Winter Claiming Series for $20,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers when he captured Saturday's $35,500 final at The Meadows. Screen The Call took the $21,000 championship of the harness racing Winter Claiming Series for $10,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers. Sitting fourth near the three-eighths, Big Game Hunter made a quick burst to the front for Aaron Merriman and had little trouble from there, scoring in 1:52.4. Valiente Stride was second, 1-3/4 lengths back, while Amazon Art shot the Lightning Lane for show. Mike Dowdall trains the 6-year-old Geartogear-Penny's Fortune gelding, who extended his lifetime earnings to $179,155, for Keith Pippi. Screen The Call converted a pocket trip to victory when he blew by the leader, American Paparazzi, in the lane and downed him by a neck for Dan Rawlings, trainer Scot Davidson and owner Ameer Najor. Waylon Hanover rallied for show. It was the fifth win in the last six starts for the 7-year-old son of American Ideal-Last Night, who boosted his career bankroll to $185,645. Elsewhere on Saturday's card, Doctor RJ peeled off cover around the final turn for Eric Goodell and roared through the stretch to take the $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Pace in 1:51.3, fastest mile this year at The Meadows. Achilles Blue Chip closed well for place, 3/4 lengths back, with the first-over Artache Hanover third. Paul Kennedy conditions Doctor RJ, a 7-year-old Real Artist-Informant gelding who now boasts $230,710 in lifetime earnings, for Robyn Kennedy and Pippi. Merriman piloted four winners on the 15-race card while Tony Hall and trainer Randy Bendis each enjoyed a three-bagger. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Big Game Hunter held off the late challenge of Valiente Stride to capture his second straight harness racing victory in Saturday's second leg of the Winter Claiming Series for $20,000 horse and gelding pacers at The Meadows. Sawbuck Hanover and Want Me also took $15,000 second-leg splits. Sent straight to the front by Aaron Merriman, Big Game Hunter easily parried the first-over bid of Mr Coolie but then had to deal with the stretch charge of Valiente Stride. The 6-year-old Geartogear-Penny's Fortune gelding downed Valiente Stride by a neck in 1:54, while Mr Coolie saved show. Mike Dowdall trains Big Game Hunter, who now boasts $161,405 in career earnings, for Keith Pippi. The card also featured the second leg of the Winter Claiming Series for $10,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers, with Screen The Call and Waylon Hanover each winning $8,000 divisions. The championships of both Winter Claiming Series are set for Saturday, Feb. 27. Elsewhere on Saturday's program, Rockin Ron stretched his winning streak to four with a facile victory -- from post 9 -- in the $22,500 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace. The first-over Artache Hanover was second, 3-1/2 lengths back, with Dew N Doughnuts third. Dave Palone drove the 4-year-old Real Desire-Im All A Roan gelding, who extended his career bankroll to $157,418, for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. Tony Hall, Merriman and Palone each enjoyed a three-bagger on the 15-race card. * * * * * Register now for The Meadows Live Bankroll Handicapping Contest set for Saturday, March 5, with a guaranteed $5,000 prize pool. Cost is $100, with $50 allocated to the prize pool and $50 to each player's bankroll. Registered players can enjoy the free lunch buffet in the Triple Crown Banquet Room and will receive a free March 5 Meadows race program. Winner gets 50 percent of the prize pool, with 25 percent for second place, 12 percent for third place, 8 percent for fourth place and 5 percent for fifth place. To register now, call 724.503.1509 or visit the Retail Center in the Racebook. Event-day registration begins at 11:30 AM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Final Breath retook the lead past the quarter, then held off a pair of determined harness racing challengers as he captured Wednesday's $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Trot at The Meadows. I Know My Chip took the initial shot at Final Breath with a first-over backside move that faltered turning for home. Then Tamarind attacked the leader with a Lightning Lane charge. But Final Breath gave Dave Palone just enough to prevail in 1:55.2 over a "good" surface, a nose better than Tamarind. TSM Photo Bugger rallied for show. Mike Palone trains Final Breath, a 6-year-old Victory Sam-First Breath gelding who extended his career bankroll to $356,503, for Duane Lowe. Aaron Merriman collected five wins and Palone three on the 15-race card. Evan Pattak

Dreamy Fella paced home for his fifth straight win Wednesday (January 27) in Northfield Park's 12th race. The four year-old stallion is owned by Tessa Roland of Lackawanna, New York and trained by John Perrin. Harness racing driver Aaron Merriman was aboard for the winning drive. Dreamy Fella started from post four and made every pole a winning one through fractional times of :28.1, :58.1, 1:28.2 and 1:58.2. He never experienced an anxious moment in the mile and was 1¼-lengths ahead of his competition at the wire. Wednesday's triumph was the tenth career start for Dreamy Fella (Artistic Fella-Cerulean Dream-Dream Away). He raced in New York and Canada and was beaten in all of his first five races. However, he has excelled under Perrin's tutelage and remains undefeated over the Flying Turns. Wednesday's triumph increased Dreamy Fella's lifetime earnings to $9,590. He was the overwhelming favorite and returned $2.40 to win. $2,829.90 Carryover Sparks $10,000 Guaranteed Pick-5 Total Pool Saturday at Northfield Park Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $10,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Saturday’s (January 30) program.  Beginning in Race 3, the $10,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $2,829.90. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.    Saturday’s post time is 6:00 p.m. Ayers Ratliff

Freehold, NJ --- There might be some debate about the origin of his name, but there is no arguing that Viewlander enjoys the brisk days of winter. An 8-year-old male trotter --- who didn’t make his harness racing career debut until November of his 4-year-old season --- Viewlander is 3-for-3 this year at Ohio’s Northfield Park and approaching $100,000 in lifetime purses. Bred and owned by Michael Patalan and trained by Patalan’s son, Eric, the gelded Viewlander has won 21 of 90 career races, but enjoyed much of his success during the months of December, January, and February. Going back to December 2014, Viewlander has raced 15 times during those months and produced 10 victories. Viewlander’s most recent win came on Jan. 18 by two lengths in the Open Handicap at Northfield’s half-mile oval. His next start is Monday in the Open Handicap at Northfield, where he will leave from post eight with driver Aaron Merriman and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line behind S J Better Days, at 7-2. “If you look at his races, almost everybody is on Lasix but him,” Michael Patalan said. “That to me is a real special horse. You would think in the wintertime he wouldn’t be breathing as good, but he seems to thrive in the winter months. Last year he got hot about this time. We gave him the summer months off and he just enjoyed the sun and the grass and then we brought him back and he seems to be getting better with every start. “And I think he kind of likes the fact he can push horses around on the small tracks (like Northfield). I told my son after last week that Viewlander probably thinks he’s the best horse in the world right now.” Viewlander was unraced at ages 2 and 3, but Patalan liked the trotter from the beginning. “Eric doesn’t push them as 2-year-olds,” Patalan said. “If he can get them racing and sell them as 3- and 4-year-olds, we’re sort of happy to do that. But Viewlander was spectacular from birth. He’s just a nice horse. He eats well, loads well, ships well, and doesn’t need a veterinarian. What more could you ask for. “He gets turned out all the time. He’s got a couple of girlfriends in the field that he loves to yell at, even though he’s a gelding. We’re having a good time with him. When he retires, we’ll keep him as a fun horse in the field for the grandkids to play with. When you make this kind of money with a horse, we’re not a big stable or big breeders, that’s a lot of money for a breeder like us to make and it keeps the farm going for a while. So when he’s finished we’ll let the kids enjoy him.” Patalan got his start in harness racing in 1969 while living in the suburbs of Cleveland. He was an engineer for Ford and would go to the races with co-workers, but ventured into ownership after becoming friends with Burton “Bud” Jenne, who had a farm nearby. “I drove by his farm for like five months and all of a sudden one day my car turned in the driveway,” Patalan said with a laugh. “Six months later, we had a yearling.” Patalan now lives in Michigan, where he and his wife Christine have a farm and have bred more than 100 horses over the years. Patalan also has driven and trained horses during his career in harness racing. Viewlander, by the stallion Coventry, is the only offspring of Patalan’s Tagliabue mare Tagliaview --- at least for now. The 73-year-old Patalan has bred fewer horses in recent years as opportunities in Michigan diminished. But Viewlander’s success led Patalan to breed Tagliaview in 2015 to stallion Cash Hall, who is the fastest trotter in harness racing on a half-mile racetrack, with a time-trial mark of 1:51.1. “I thought that was really kind of cool,” Patalan said. “Viewlander has got a great conformation. He’s a big horse who gets around a half-mile track extremely well. With Cash Hall’s record, I just thought this was really something special. “Everybody always asks where Viewlander’s brothers and sisters are, and now I tell them one is coming.” As for the trotter’s name, Patalan recalls it being a combination of Tagliaview and Verlander --- the star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Others disagree, saying it was a combination of Tagliaview and the movie Zoolander. The Patalans have often named horses with references to movies or characters from movies. “We probably had a bottle of wine when we named him, one of those things,” Patalan said, laughing. “I don’t think we’re ever going to resolve it.” Patalan said Eric, who is assisted by his wife Cathy in running the training stable, has received calls inquiring whether Viewlander is for sale. Patalan said no. “We couldn’t get enough money for him to replace the fun we’re having with him,” Patalan said. “As good a care that Eric takes of horses, I think he’s got a career that’ll go a long time.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Elkton, MD - Post Time with Mike and Mike would like to remind everyone that the next few weeks, the show will be taking place at 1:00 PM on Thursday afternoons. Coming up this week we have the 2015 North America Dash Driving Champion Aaron Merriman on who will discuss how much 2015 has affected him and we will look ahead for things to come in 2016. Canadian Trainer Chantal Mitchell will be on this week after being affected by the devastating Classy Lane Farm fire just a couple weeks ago. Mitchell is the trainer of Rakin It In who won in his 1st start since the fire happened. He was the only horse to survive the fire as he was racing at Woodbine the night of the fire. We will talk to Brandon Valvo about some of the International Racing going on overseas as the horses continue to prepare for the Prix D'Amerique. Contenders for the race include Timoko and Bold Eagle both who have been very successful in recent weeks. Daily Racing Form's Derick Giwner will also be making a guest appearance on the show. Make sure to join Post Time with Mike and Mike on Thursday with a first post of 1:00 PM, for more information visit our website at or follow us on Social Media. By Michael Carter, for Post Time with Mike and Mike  

Harness racing driver Aaron Merriman focuses on one day at a time, which has led to some pretty good years. The 37-year-old Ohio native is coming off a career-best harness racing season in 2015, capturing his first North American driving title and earning a personal-high $7.40 million in purses. His 873 victories last year were the most for a dash-winning champion since Tony Morgan's 959 triumphs in 2008. Merriman is one of only three drivers --- joining Morgan and Tim Tetrick --- to win at least 800 races in back to back years. In 2014, Merriman won 841 times, but finished six victories behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the No. 1 spot. Over the past 10 years, Merriman has won an average of 618 races per season. "I really take everything as a day-to-day thing," Merriman said as he reflected on his 2015 campaign. "I take pride in what I do each day and try to do the best for who I drive for. (Winning the dash title) just shows the overall body of work for what you've done during the year." Merriman was the leading driver in North America in June 2010 when he broke both wrists and his left elbow in a racing accident that sidelined him for much of the remainder of the year. In addition to finishing second in wins in 2014, he was sixth in 2013, with 568, and fifth in 2012, with 605. "It feels good to win the title because I've been close so many times," Merriman said. "There are a lot of guys who can win a lot of races. They're tough. If you go through just an average spell, or even if you're doing above average and other people are doing excellent, that's the way it goes. "I'm proud of the year I had and being able to participate in many of the Grand Circuit races. People maybe see I can win some races. It feels good. Working as hard as I have the last few years, it's something that you can say you did it for. I definitely appreciate it." Merriman, who frequently competes twice a day --- afternoons at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania and evenings at Northfield Park in northern Ohio, saw his Grand Circuit appearances in 2015 include the Breeders Crown, Hambletonian Oaks, Kentucky Filly Futurity, Tattersalls Pace, Hambletonian Maturity, Milstein Memorial, Elegantimage, Monument Circle, Carl Erskine Trot, and Allerage Open Pace. "I'd like to continue to pick up Grand Circuit drives," Merriman said. "Before, sometimes I wouldn't take those chances. If I had one (Grand Circuit drive), I'd rather drive 16 (races elsewhere). That was my mentality. But last year I took those one or two drives just to get my name out there and to participate in our sport's best events. "If I have a goal, it's to continue to compete on the Grand Circuit and hopefully do well. I really enjoyed traveling and going to those places. Just being around those kinds of events, with the owners and trainers, is special. I'm a people-person, so I like meeting new people and being around different people at times. I'm grateful for those opportunities." Merriman drove in 4,204 races in 2015, which was nearly 800 more than Corey Callahan, who was No. 2 on the list for driver starts. He drove in 4,646 races in 2014. He hopes to scale back a little bit this year, in part to enjoy more time with his family and travel. But he says this much will remain the same --- when he is committed to drive, he will be there. "Something has to happen for me not to show up," Merriman said. "I think that helps me. Maybe I'm not the best, maybe I'm not this or that, but people know I'm going to be there. I'm not a guy who is going to say that if it's inconvenient I'm not going to be there. I show up and I pride myself in that. "It's impossible for me to pick the highlight to any year. It's just having the opportunity each day to do something I love to do. I'm just as happy, it sounds nuts, winning any race. I'm just happy to win the next one. There's always a purse difference, I know, but winning never gets old. I'm happy just with the opportunity people give me to drive horses." He also is thankful for the support of his family and friends, particularly his father Lanny and longtime girlfriend Tessa. "They are instrumental in my everyday life," Merriman said. "My dad calls every day. I'm just like everyone else; I get down if I have a bad day or a few bad days. When you have people there to pick you up every single time, and knowing it's sincere, you can't beat it." Ken Weingartner

Harness racing driver Aaron Merriman, the 2015 North American Dash winner, has continued his winning ways into 2016. After posting three wins on Friday (January 1), Merriman had a monster night on Saturday (January 2) at Northfield Park by posting eight wins on the 15-race program. Merriman's triumphs were with Lady Ideal ($2.10) in race three, King Richard ($9.20) in race six, Talbotcreek Armani ($3.80) in race eight, Bob N Tony ($3.00) in race nine, Giddy Up Blackfly ($3.00) in race 10, Viewlander ($2.10) in race 11, Love You Bad ($11.20) in race 14 and Blessing Stone (2.40) in race 15. Merriman garnered 873 victories in 2015, which placed him 41 wins in front of any other driver in North America. Aaron is also the winningest driver in the history of Northfield Park, where he became the youngest inductee to the track's Wall of Fame in 2013 at age 36. Merriman has been driving since 1998. He is nearing 8,000 career wins and has over $45 million in purse earnings. Ayers Ratliff

Ronnie Wrenn Jr. again topped the local harness racing driving ranks in 2015, winning 653 races over the Flying Turns. His nearest competitor, Aaron Merriman, drove 579 winners. Jason Merriman (338), Ryan Stahl (210) and Kurt Sugg (199) completed the top five reinsmen. Wrenn, 29, resides in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and now has four driving titles under his belt. He won the dash titles at Northfield Park in 2013 and 2014 and Northville Downs in 2013. Ronnie's 2015 total victory tally was 796, which ranked him third among all drivers in North America. Only Aaron Merriman (873) and George Napolitano Jr. (832) had more wins in 2015 than Wrenn Jr. Wrenn began driving in 2008 and has since won 2,968 races and purses of $13,731,914. Wrenn's fasted and richest win ever came in last year's $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs aboard Doo Wop Hanover in 1:49.2. Northfield Park's 2015 leading trainer Brian Loney won 54 more races than any other local conditioner. He garnered 153 victories throughout last year. Sam Schillaci finished second with 99 wins. Michael Dowdall (86), Jessica Millner (70) and Andy Rickert (67) rounded out the top five Northfield Park trainers for 2015. Brian, originally from Hager Hill, Kentucky, has relocated to Northfield, Ohio. He and wife Harla Renae have three children: 15 year-old son Gannun, 11 year-old son Payton and six year-old daughter Polly. Loney, 37, has 1,330 career victories and purse earnings of $3,241,750. The 2015 Northfield title is the fourth local dash victory for Brian. He has also won titles at Bluegrass Downs, Fairmount Park, The Red Mile and Thunder Ridge. Brian recalled that his first training win was with the gelding pacer Stealth Fighter at Fairmount Park in 1996. Wrenn and Loney will each be presented with a plaque and dining gift certificate to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in a winner's circle ceremony later in January. Ayers Ratliff      

Aaron Merriman wound up with 873 driving victories during 2015 to lead North American drivers for the first time. Fittingly, he won the last race of the harness racing season he competed in, the 15th at Northfield last night, rallying out of the pocket to win with Duke Uh Brava. He had four winners on Wednesday night.   Merriman's total of 873 wins in 2015 gives him the fifth-highest total ever among North American leaders, and seventh place overall among drivers' victories in one season:   2015 Aaron Merriman 873   2008 Anthony Morgan  961      (2nd in '08) Tim Tetrick 903   2007 Tim Tetrick           1189    (2nd in '07) Anthony Morgan 880   2006 Anthony Morgan 1004   1998 Walter Case Jr.    1076     (UNOFFICIAL research shows seven drivers with 3000 or more wins this decade, 2010-2015:   George Napolitano Jr. 3995   Dave Palone 3830   Aaron Merriman 3822   Tim Tetrick 3702   Corey Callahan 3396   George Brennan 3316   Bruce Aldrich Jr. 3085)

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