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Aaron Merriman and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. are rivals when it comes to racing, but friends away from the track. The two are battling for the No. 1 spot in wins among all harness racing drivers in North America, with Merriman holding a 28-victory advantage, 799-771, heading into Friday's action. Wrenn won last year's dash title with 714 wins. He is the leading driver at Northfield Park, with 597 triumphs, and Merriman is second there with 447. Merriman also competes regularly at The Meadows, where he is fourth in the standings with 318 wins. The 36-year-old 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. He was sixth in wins last year, with 568, and fifth in 2012, with 605. This year, Merriman is on pace to become the first driver since Tony Morgan in 2008 to win more than 800 races in a season. Merriman, who has won 6,923 races in his career, has set a career high with $6.31 million in purses this year. The 28-year-old Wrenn was sidelined for much of January because of wrist surgery and also endured the loss of his father to cancer in May. Wrenn changed his colors to his father's black and maroon in tribute to his dad. Despite the hardships, Wrenn this season joined a small group of drivers to win at least 700 races in back-to-back years. The others are Tim Tetrick, Tony Morgan, Dave Palone, Walter Case Jr., Jack Moiseyev, Herve Filion, and Mike Lachance. Tetrick and Morgan are the only drivers to do it more than once and Morgan is the only one to extend the streak beyond two years -- winning at least 700 races from 2005-08 and also 1995-97. Merriman and Wrenn recently spoke separately to Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner about their campaigns, their friendship, and the chase for No. 1. Their remarks are combined in the following "conversation." KW: Aaron, how do you feel heading into the last few weeks? Is winning the dash title something you think about? AM: I'm one that doesn't even want to look at it. I just like to do my everyday thing. It's definitely not over until the last day. Ronnie has the opportunity to win races in bunches. When you have a guy that can win six or eight or 10 races, you never think it's over. There are a lot of race days left. We're both going to have to be on our toes, that's for sure. That's one thing about this, there are no days off. KW: Ronnie, can you catch him? RW: There's always the chance, but it's going to be hard because not only am I down (28) wins but he's racing doubleheaders so I have to win double every day to what he does. But there's always a shot. It's in the back of my mind. Aaron is definitely on top of his game this year. He's having a great year. I'm happy with finishing second if that's the way it ends up. KW: How do you look at your season overall? AM: It's been a very successful year. I got to race in some of the signature races in the sport, and that really means more to me than winning a lot of races. Just being able to participate and be competitive against the best horses and best drivers -- and really make a good showing for the state of Ohio and myself and the drivers at Northfield Park that I feel I represent. RW: I'm very fortunate. When I moved to Ohio I was given the opportunity to drive at Northfield and drive for some well-respected trainers. Then Virgil (Morgan Jr.) gave me the opportunity to drive most of his horses at Scioto and that helped me break through there. I'm always aiming to do better. Next year I hope I have an even better year than this year. Maybe I can get a nice Grand Circuit horse or some nice sire stakes horses. I'm very happy with where I am. It's definitely been a rough year. A lot happened to me this year in my life with my dad passing away in the spring. It was definitely tough. But that makes you stronger. KW: With the passing of your dad, how did it affect you and your focus? RW: It was pretty difficult, I'm not going to lie. Some days it still is; it's still pretty fresh. As the year has gone on, I've gotten stronger. I feel like it's made me a better driver in a way because it's given me some perspective. There are way more important things in life than racing and sometimes you get caught up in winning races. It's our livelihood, but there are more important things. It helps me to relax and not take things too seriously. I think it helps me perform better on the racetrack. KW: Has it inspired you? RW: Definitely. I made the switch to his colors and I think that helps give me some motivation too. I've had a lot of starts this year and I was lucky enough to have a good year. Hopefully I can continue; I don't plan on slowing down. Hopefully I can compete on this level for many years. Things are really looking up in Ohio, so it seems like a pretty good place to be racing right now. KW: Aaron, what does it mean to you to be in this position after coming back from the accident in 2010? AM: It's a blessing to be in this position again. At one point when I was getting ready to go into surgery, I didn't even know if I was going to drive again. That's the truth. It might have taken a few years, but it's just a blessing to be back in this position. It's something I always wanted, to win the dash title. I hope it happens. (In 2010) I felt really confident and I was just on an unbelievable roll. It felt like I could do no wrong. God had other plans, but it's made me a better person and made me stronger. It's made me really appreciate things, that's for sure. KW: What has been the highlight of your season? AM: Driving in the Hambletonian, for sure. (Merriman finished fourth with Il Sogno Dream.) It was just a surreal experience for me. And the support I received. Not many people get to drive in the Hambletonian, it's one race a year. I've won a lot of races and gotten recognition, but that was my defining moment this year. RW: I think probably my favorite race was when I set the world record with Victory Is Coming. She trotted in (1):51 at Scioto. That's pretty cool to be able to set a world record. I never imagined I would be able to, and she's just an amazing horse. I was just thankful to be able to drive her. I have to thank the trainer (Ammon Hershberger) and owners (Betty and John Shaw) for giving me a shot with her. She had a great year and set track records at Northfield, Dayton and Scioto. Just being able to drive her made the year a little more special. KW: How would you describe your relationship with each other? RW: We're very good friends. Racing against each other almost every night, we're able to get to know one another, and when we raced at Scioto we roadtripped together from Northfield, which gave us a chance to get to know each other more. It's pretty cool that we're Nos. 1 and 2 in the country and we race at the same track. I know racing against him makes me a better driver because he's an amazing driver. I have to be on my 'A' game to even keep up with him. I think it helps us get the best out of each other. He always aims to beat me, and I always aim to beat him. I think it kind of makes us better drivers. AM: I think so too, especially when you can kind of needle each other a little bit. Over this last year, or year and a half, we've gotten to be pretty close. I consider him one of my best friends. He's just a great kid. It makes it more competitive, but it might make it easier if the other wins (the dash title). I'm sure we'll be happy for each other. He did it last year and, like I said, this kid can win races in bunches. He's very, very consistent. I'm just happy that he came here. He's been a good friend, he's been a true friend, and I wouldn't want to be in it with anybody else. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

North America's leading harness racing driver, Aaron Merriman, drove eight winners on Thursday (December 11) at Northfield Park, winning over half of the 15-race program. Merriman's eight scores included Vision Of Glory ($12.60) in race one, Snuff Box ($6.80) in race two, Wild Ride ($3.60) in race three, Noble Fitch ($3.40) in race four, Brown Titan ($2.40) in race seven, Chievous Dan ($3.80) in race 10, Loconotion ($12.00) in race 12 and Cause To Smile ($7.00) in race 15. Merriman, 36, began driving in 1997 and has since garnered 6,923 career victories. He is approaching $37.5M in total purse earnings. Merriman has posted 442 victories so far this year over Northfield's Flying Turns, placing him second in the local driving ranks behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. (593). However, Merriman splits his time primarily between Northfield Park and The Meadows, as well as a multitude of other racing venues. He has amassed an impressive 799 total wins so far this year. That win tally is more than any other driver in North America. Becoming the 2014 National Dash Champion would be icing on the cake for the unbelievable year that Merriman has experienced. "I have worked hard and hustled for a long time," explained Merriman. "Winning races is great and that it what racing is about, but the experiences I have had this year are indescribable." This year has put Aaron Merriman behind the starting gate of the Hambletonian, an elimination of the Little Brown Jug, the Kentucky Futurity, the Canadian Trotting Classic as well as a host of other Grand Circuit and major stake races. In August, Merriman became the youngest inductee into the Northfield Park Wall of Fame. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

The Northern Dude was a repeat winner of the $12,500 Open Trot on Monday (December 1) at Northfield Park. Curran Racing, LLC of Red Hook, New York owns the five year-old. Trainer Jessica Millner enlisted the driving services of North America's leading driver Aaron Merriman. The Northern Dude (Ken Warkentin - LR Alleys Concern - King Conch) left alertly from post seven and led his competition at every call. He set fractions of :27.3, :57, 1:25.4 and 1:56.4 and was a full-length in front at the finish. Completing the race were Mythical Hall, Mama Made Me Blue, Jesse's Messenger, Catching Katie, Diamond Hunter, Mary's Darvin and Zorgwijk Heavenly. Monday's victory represents the third consecutive win for The Northern Dude, who now has seven wins in 26 starts this year, 15 career successes and a bankroll of $177,030. He was the heavy favorite and paid $3.60 to win. Major Belle was impressive in winning the evening's $12,500 Open Pace. Ron Burke trains the six year-old for Pennsylvania owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi and New York connections of Cynthia Massari and Joseph Di Scala, Jr. Chris Page was aboard for the winning drive. Major Belle (Art Major - Meghan's Belle - No Nukes) started from the far outside and was content in the back of the pack while his competition carved stiff fractions of :26.3 and :54.4. Major Belle had moved into third at the 1:23.2 three-quarter pole and took the lead in the stretch and besting his competition by 2-lengths, in 1:53.2. Completing the race were Real Future, Top Of The Mark, Bettor's Choice, Midnight Dragon, Allamerican Pewter and Onhishonor Hanover. Mybrothergeorge was scratched. Monday's triumph was the seventh win in 28 starts this year for Major Belle. It increased his lifetime win tally to 22 and his earnings to $362,229. He returned $15.40 to win. Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 25, 2014 -- Trailing by 8 lengths at the half, Do Me Honor took advantage of live cover to get into position, then brushed through the lane to capture Monday's $15,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred Pace at The Meadows. Do Me Honor was sixth down the backside when Aaron Merriman moved her third over in the cover flow. She needed to go wide to do it, but the 6-year-old daughter of Cheyenne Rei-Do Me Right overtook the leaders with authority, scoring in 1:54. Rescue Team was second, 1/2 length back, with Miss Kilo third. Bill Bercury trains and owns Do Me Honor, who extended her career bankroll to $526,177. Eric Goodell and Eric Ledford each piloted three winners on the 15-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Despite pouring rain that delayed the start of the first race by a half hour, Habitat and Wild Honey did not mind the “off-track” as they both cruised to half-length victories in winning their respective divisions of the Matron Stakes Thursday afternoon at Dover Downs. Both were strong wins in the daily double for driver Yannick Gingras. Wild Honey started off the show in capturing her $203,600 Matron Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies. The track was labeled good despite constant rain. Bright Baby Blues (David Miller) was the first to show but by the opening quarter mile in :27.4, driver Yannick Gringas had Wild Honey, the 1/5 favorite, on the move and took over the lead. From that point on the field raced Indian-style past the half mile in :57.4 before the action began to pick up. Corey Callahan was sitting third with Smexi and then came first-over with Gold Gora (Tim Tetrick) following the live cover in the backstretch and past the three-quarters in 1:26.3. Then coming down the stretch Gingras held the field at bay with Wild Honey. Bright Baby Blues came up the passing lane to try and mount a challenge but it was too little too late as Wild Honey won in 1:55.2. “She’s just a fantastic filly,” said trainer Jimmy Takter in the winner’s circle, “Despite the conditions she was just on cruise control.” It was the eighth straight win and ninth of the year in only ten starts for Wild Honey. The freshman daughter of Cantab Hall is co-owned by Christina Takter, John Fieldings, Herb Liverman and Jim Fieldings. She paid just $2.20 to win. Wild Honey The $237,500 Matron Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts saw Habitat and Gringras go to the early lead over Uncle Lasse (Ron Pierce) with the first quarter mile in :28. Then it was Cruzado Dela Noche and driver David Miller quarter moving to the front before the half mile marker in :56.1. As they hit the backstretch Pierce came back first-over with Uncle Lasse and trying to follow their outside cover was Billy Flynn (Brett Miller) but to no avail as they could not close the gap. Past the three-quarters in 1:25 saw Uncle Lasse in contention but then he began to tire and at the top of the stretch, Gingras left the pocket with Habitat to come after Cruzado Dela Noche and all the while, sitting in fourth place along the race was David Miller with Muscle Diamond and they shot up the passing lane. But it was not enough as Habitat was the strong horse, winning by a half length in 1:54.2 with Muscle Diamond nosing out Cruzado Dela Noche for second place. “He (Habitat) is a very consistent horse,” said trainer Ron Burke, “and he can do it all. I was glad to see Yannick give him a trip today. I think he will be in great shape for the upcoming Breeders Crown.” Sired by Conway Hall, it was the seventh win this year for Habitat. He is owned by the Hauser Brothers Racing, and J & T Silva Stables and paid $6.20 to win. Habitat By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Sweetheart Dance was a repeat winner in Northfield's weekly top distaff event when she cruised to victory in the $12,000 Fillies and Mares Open on Friday (October 17) at Northfield Park. She is trained by Kent Sherman for Pittsburgh, PA owner Keith Pippi. Aaron Merriman, North America's leading driver this year, was in the sulky. Sweetheart Dance (Yankee Cruiser-Somkindasweetypie-Life Sign) was assigned the outside. She had to work in the first quarter to make the lead, but never experienced an anxious moment once she struck the front. Sweetheart Dance led her competition through fractions of :27.4, :56.3, 1:25.1 and 1:54.3, besting her competition by two lengths. Completing the race were Rockratese, Y Mach Me, Shes Glorious, Lady Ideal, JK Geronimo and Non Pareil. Friday's win was the 10th victory this year in 29 starts. It bolstered her career win tally to 22 and her lifetime earnings to $243,091. She was heavily favored and returned $2.60 to win. by Ayres Ratliff, for Northfield Park

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 10, 2014 -- Visible Gold notched his Third Straight victory -- and 24th over the past two seasons -- when he followed live cover and scored in Friday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dave Palone found a seat fourth for Visible Gold in deference to a hot early pace and moved the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight-Gabrielle gelding behind the first-over cover of Southern Allie. Visible Gold shed his cover into the final turn and rolled home in 1:51.2, a length ahead of Carol's Comet. Major Belle finished third. Ron Burke trains Visible Gold, who extended his career bankroll to $342,444, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. Aaron Merriman drove five winners and Mike Wilder three on the 15-race card. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 8, 2014 -- A winner in her debut at The Meadows, Anaffairtoremember was even more impressive next time out when she overcame post 8 to capture Wednesday's $16,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Handicap Trot. When new owner/trainer Bill Bercury introduced Anaffairtoremember to The Meadows, she rewarded him Oct. 1 with a tough first-over victory. On Wednesday, she found a seat fifth for Aaron Merriman, followed the live cover of Mistress Valentine and rolled home in 1:53.3, 2-1/4 lengths better than early leader Kandian Club. Mistress Valentine was a clear third. The 4-year-old daughter of Angus Hall-Val Lee Woman now boasts career earnings of $261,982. Tony Hall, Mike Wilder and Merriman each drove three winners on the 15-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday, when the card features a $50,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 5, races 11-15. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 5, 2014 -- Fly Past Hanover, a 3-year-old trotting gelding, shot the Lightning Lane and notched his second straight Pennsylvania Fairs championship Saturday at The Meadows On a festive evening that featured many family-oriented activities, The Meadows hosted all eight fairs finals, each with a purse of $25,000 -- up 25 percent from last year. Aaron Merriman piloted three champions, including a pair -- Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover -- for trainer William Daugherty, Jr. Fly Past Hanover stalked the favorite, Mr Weaver, from the pocket and blew by inside to triumph in 1:59.2 for his 22nd victory over the past two seasons, downing Mr Weaver by 2-1/4 lengths. Faust was third. Daugherty said he wasn't surprised the son of Cantab Hall-Flexible Spending was able to repeat as champion. "He's a good honest trotter -- 90 percent sound, no big problems," Daugherty said. "We got rained out three or four times this summer; that gave him a little rest." In the other championships: 3-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Sheema Star Sheema Star provided the night's tote board pyrotechnics when she shed excess cover in the lane to pull off a 50-1 shocker in 1:59.3 and give driver Brady Brown his first career victory at The Meadows. She Nuit was second by a head, with Hearts Content third. "When I saw I was following the morning-line favorite, I knew we wouldn't be on the fence long," Brown said. "I figured I would have cover carrying me all the way to the stretch. My plan was to come from the back anyway. Everything worked out." Ashley Brown owns and trains the daughter of SJ's Caviar-Hearts In Bloom. 3-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Wiggle It Hanover Not to be outdone by his buddy Brown, Shawn Johnston captured his initial driving victory at The Meadows when Wiggle It Hanover -- a daughter of Dragon Again-Western Gesture that Johnston also owns and trains -- rallied to capture only her second lifetime win in 1:56.3. La Fiesta, the PA Fairs juvenile champion, was second, a head back, while Fixed Income earned show. "They were all itching to get out of there, but she likes to come off the pace," Johnston said. "Was there anything holding her back? Probably me." Johnston received congratulations of sorts when his fellow horsemen doused him with two buckets of icy water. 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Wellsaidandone Seated early by the determined Ruffle Up and Roger Hammer, Wellsaidandone had more pop late and blazed by the leader to score in 1:53.4 for Merriman, trainer Mike Gillock and owner Harry Locke. On a brusque night when stake records seemed safe, the Well Said-Yenta Hanover gelding missed the stake mark by a tick, an impressive performance. "That horse of Roger's looked like he'd been getting his own way at the fairs," Merriman said. "I thought if he got cheap fractions, he'd be tough to beat. My horse really exploded out of the hole and made my job extremely easy." 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot -- Wimborne Hanover Wimborne Hanover soared over $100,000 in earnings with his win in 1:59.3. Bambam Lauxmont was second, 3/4 lengths in arrears, while Music Man De Vie completed the ticket. The victory by the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding wasn't surprising -- he was the 1-2 favorite -- but the front-end style was, as Daugherty previously indicated the youngster had become too hot. "In this field, I thought he might have to go to the front," Daugherty said. "He's been good and solid since I changed his bit, but he wasn't going to get a seat tonight. Aaron said he got a little lazy near the wire." 2-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Isabella Carina Brian Zendt drove Isabella Carina in her most recent outing, a Keystone Classic split, and what he learned proved instrumental in her victory Saturday. "We made some rigging changes," Zendt said. "She had a Murphy blind, and she acted like she couldn't see right. She had her head kind of cocked sideways. We took that off, and she was much better tonight. She's a Cadillac -- wants to do everything right." The daughter of Tom Ridge-Bellissimo moved three wide down the backside and drew off by 5-1/2 lengths to score in 1:59.2. Susie B and Peoplesayimnogood completed the ticket. Walter "Boots" Dunn conditions the homebred Isabella Carina for Dunn Stable. 2-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Keystone I Wish Although she trailed by 5 lengths down the backside, Keystone I Wish tracked down the loose leader, Angel Plus, and scored in 1:57. Tropical Terror, the "winningest" freshman in harness racing with 16 victories, lacked late racing room and settled for second, 1-1/2 lengths behind, while Angel Plus saved show. "I was a little concerned (with her position), but this filly will chase one down," said winning driver Todd Schadel, who trains the daughter of Art Official-I Will -- an $8,000 Harrisburg buy-back -- and owns with Christine Schadel. 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Marshmallow Pulse Marshmallow Pulse not only grabbed the championship in 1:57.1, but he also extended a streak -- in the money in all 17 career starts. Tony Hall drove the Quik Pulse Mindale-Marshamarshamarsha gelding for trainer Jason Shaw and owner Mason Shaw who, although only 2, showed his savvy as a horseman yet again. Nippy was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, with Given Up Terror third. "He tries every time he goes on the racetrack," Jason Shaw said of his $4,500 yearling acquisition. "He gives you everything he's got. Next year we may try some early closers here, then back to the fairs." by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

$200,000 will be on the line on Saturday night at The Meadows, as the 2014 Pennsylvania Fair Finals will be featured as part of a special 13-race evening card. Post time is 6:55PM.   Horses have been traveling the circuit since mid-June earning points in Pennsylvania Sire Stake fair events at 21 venues. The top eight point-earners in each of eight divisions will meet for the annual championship events.   The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA)  will also host a Family Fun Night, helping to bring the county fair atmosphere to the track with plenty of activities for kids.   Parade marshal Wendy Ross will have a special tribute to America between races 3 and 4 on the card, and after the 6th race a special Gold Medal Celebrity Match Race will take place, featuring former Pittsburgh Penguin Bob Errey and former basketball star and current University of Pittsburgh basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. Errey earned a gold medal in 1997 as part of Team Canada in the World Hockey Championships, and McConnell-Serio was a member of the 1988 USA Olympic championship winning women's basketball team.   On the track, eight $25,000 PA Fair Finals will be the top attraction, featuring some of the top winning horses in the nation. Freshman pacing filly Tropical Terror, trained by Jason Shaw for owner Mason Shaw, and driven by Chris Shaw will look for win #17 on the season. In 18 starts, the Western Terror filly has 16 wins and 2 second place finishes, and has the rail in race #2.   Sophomore filly trotter Cantabs Lightning, owned, trained and driven by Wayne Long, has won 10 of 16 this season. The Cantab Hall filly has drawn post 4 in the sixth race on the card.   In the 3YO pacing filly ranks, Allstar Morning, owned by Kristen and Ethan Spahn, has won 10 of 26 this year and has post 3 in the 7th race. Dave Palone drives the Four Starzzz Shark filly for trainer Gerald Lee.   Police Navidad, who has the rail in the 8th race 2YO colt trot, has won 11 of 17 this season for owners Lander Stables, Kathy & Virginia Schoeffel and Jim Reuther. The Muscle Massive gelding is trained and driven by Steve Schoeffel.   Another Shaw Stable entrant, Marshmallow Pulse, has the rail in the freshman colt pace. In 16 starts, the Quik Pulse Mindale gelding has 12 wins and has never been worse than third. Tony Hall will drive. The main challenger will be his stablemate, Nippy, with Chris Shaw driving. Nippy, a Nuclear Breeze gelding, has won 14 of 17 with three second place finishes.   Two more double-digit winners will square off in the 3YO colt trot, as Mr Weaver (12 for 23) will face Fly Past Hanover (11 for 22). Mr Weaver has post 1 for owners John and Owen McMullen. John McMullen trains and Wilbur Yoder drives. Fly Past Hanover is owned by Susan Daugherty, trained by Bill Daugherty, and will be driven by Aaron Merriman.   The MSOA is proud to host the event once again this year, and looks forward to a fan-friendly night.   by Jeff Zidek, for the MSOA

Batavia, NY---Timing is everything and driver Jim McNeight had his down to a science Wednesday night (Oct. 1) in winning the $8,500 mares Open pace feature at Batavia Downs with Infrontigo Hanover. Going directly to the wood off the gate, McNeight settled Infrontigo Hanover in fourth while Taylor Rei (Aaron Byron) and Fiftyonefifty (Mike Whelan) played give-and-go to the quarter. When the dust settled at that post in :28.2, McNeight saw his chance and Infrontigo Hanover was quickly pulled at the three-eighths and took the lead before they hit the half. From then on the only thing left to figure out was how fast and by how many? Infrontigo Hanover opened up a six-length lead going to the three-quarters in 1:25, then turned the corner and paced home uncontested to a wrapped-up three and one-half length victory in a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2. The winner paid $9.10. Bazooka Terror (Kevin Cummings) closed sharply for second and Dontch Remember (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) finished third. It was the fourth win in 28 starts for Infrontigo Hanover and raised her seasonal earnings to $34,844 for owners Summer Wind Stable of New York Inc. and Bob Gruber. The 6-year-old Western Hanover mare is trained by Bob Gruber. Second leading North American dash winning driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was at the Downs Wednesday and pulled closer to leader Aaron Merriman as he came away with five winners on the card. He scored with Kill A Rockingbird ($28.60), Blissful Escape ($3.90), Delightful Syd ($5.80), Stonetag ($4.40) and Helena's Hope ($3.30). Jim McNeight had the hat trick and Kevin Cummings doubled up. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Oct. 3) with post time at 6:35. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 1, 2014 -- Anaffairtoremember made her debut at The Meadows a memorable one when she peeled off cover late, roared through the lane and captured Tuesday's $16,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Trot. Anaffairtoremember, who had been plying her trade at Hoosier Park and Mohawk, was away sixth for Aaron Merriman when she picked up the live cover of the first-over Mistress Valentine. She shed her cover in the lane and scored in 1:54.2, 2-3/4 lengths better than early leader Kandian Club. Mistress Valentine saved show. Bill Bercury trains the 4-year-old daughter of Angus Hall-Val Lee Woman, who now boasts $253,732 in career earnings, for MT Pockets Stables. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Aaron Merriman has more wins this year than any harness racing driver in North America. He continued his reign in both of the evening's features on Monday (September 29) at Northfield Park. Mythical Hall posted his third consecutive victory in the $12,500 Open Handicap Trot. Andy Rickert trains the six year-old for Mark Jakubik of West Seneca, New York. Mythical Hall (Andover Hall - Myth - Lindy Lane) started from the outside. He left alertly at the start, took the lead and was in complete control of his competition. He trotted fractions of :27.4, :56.3, 1:25.3 and 1:55.3. He bested his competition by a ½-length. Completing the race were Kirty Dream, Zorgwijk Heavenly, Mary's Darvin, Sand Royal Blu, Calling A Victory, Bookem and Annie's Rocketman. Edit was scratched from the event. Monday's triumph was the ninth win this year for Mythical Hall. It increased his lifetime win tally to 27 and his earnings to $409,610. He returned $13.00 to win. The evening's $12,500 Open Pace was the "Arron Merriman Show" again, this time aboard Top Of The Mark. Tye Loy trains the winning five year-old for owner Harry Locke of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Top Of The Mark (Western Terror - Top Of The Hour - Abercrombie) started from post nine and was third throughout the initial :26.4 quarter. Merriman moved the pacer in the second quarter, made the lead approaching the half and never looked back. He continued on the lead through times of :54.4, 1:22.3 and 1:51.3. He was ¾-lengths in front at the finish. Completing the race were Hall Of Memories, Chase The Sun, True To Mach, Our McLovin, Iwilldowhatido, Lite Me Up and Cullens Blue Jean. Cold Bath was scratched. Top Of The Mark now has seven wins in 23 starts this year, 25 career successes and a bankroll of $225,045. He was the race favorite and paid $5.00 to win. Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 24, 2014 -- Ralph R moved confidently first over as the 1-5 favorite and rolled to an easy victory in Wednesday's $117,200 Keystone Classic at The Meadows. Wimborne Hanover took advantage of breaks by four of his six rivals to capture the other division in the stake for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Although he had just one victory on his card, Ralph R appeared to be the best following a third-place finish in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship. The son of Muscle Massive-Aiken For Clay proved it was more than a paper advantage when he brushed from third for Mike Wilder and scored in a career-best 1:56, 4-1/2 lengths better than Red Maple Lane. Sixteen Encores was third. "He scored down fantastic," Wilder said. "Not knowing the horse, I just got him away safe. But there was really nothing to know. I never moved -- plugs in, and I never laid the whip on him. He was push button." Robin Cruise trains Ralph R, who has banked $133,374 this year, for Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Paymaq Racing. Wimborne Hanover boasted nine wins entering the stake; most, however, were at PA Fairs, and, at 8-1, he figured to have his work cut out for him. But he watched Don't Mind Me break at the start. He saw Hurrikane Jonny K, the 3-5 favorite, jump it off while moving first over. He noticed the pocket-sitting Cue Hall run around the final turn. Finally, when the leader, Longcat Hanover, broke stride in the stretch, Wimborne Hanover had seen enough. He dug in for Eric Ledford and triumphed in 1:57.3. Longcat Hanover survived an inquiry and held second, 4 lengths back, while Massive Storm earned show. With all the dancing during the race, Bill Daugherty, Jr., who trains the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding for Susan Daugherty, feared his youngster -- who broke stride in his last start -- would join the conga line. "I thought about that a little bit because, being 2-year-olds, they'll do that," he said. "I was hoping to get a decent check today, not really win it, but we'll take it. He ran down a little bit behind in his last start, so I put a longer shoe on the back, and that seemed to make a difference." Wimborne Hanover will wrap up his fine freshman campaign in the Pa Fairs championships Oct. 4 at The Meadows. In the $18,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, Daylon Miracle had little trouble capturing her 13th victory this year with a 1:53.1 tally for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Bill Bercury. The pocket-sitting Kandian Club was second, 3-1/2 lengths in arrears, while ER Ellie completed the ticket. A 5-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur-Daylon Marvel, Daylon Miracle extended her career bankroll to $398,987. Tony Hall, Wilbur Yoder and Wilder each piloted three winners on the 16-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the card features a $91,998 Keystone Classic for freshman colt and gelding pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Sectionline Yankee upsets in $25,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace at Scioto Downs with a track record equaling performance of 1:50.2. She now shares the track record with Betterluvnexttime. The 5-year old mare by Yankee Cruiser out of Aquatic Yankee is trained by Steve Bauder for owners, Harold Lee Bauder, Michael Dixon and Harold Bauder of Ohio. Sectionline Yankee was driven by Greg Grismore and started from post one in the field of eight and was 6-1 on the morning line. Continual Velocity and Chris Page left for command from post eight when the wings folded along with inside leavers, She's Shocking and Novascotia Hanover. Novascotia Hanover and Tony Hall cleared to the front before the quarter that was clocked in a hot :26.1. She's Shocking and Kayne Kaufmann took the pocket ride before being shuffled to third when the favorite, Continual Velocity and Chris Page made a quarter move. Sectionline Yankee was sitting fourth on the rail at the half that was paced in :54.1. Grismore decided to make his move, pulling first up down the backside with Eve Marie Seelster and Kyle Ater in tow. Grismore applied the heavy pressure to the three quarters clocked in 1:22.2. The battled continued down the stretch before Sectionline Yankee pulled 3/4 of a length clear of Continual Velocity and Eve Marie Seelster completed the trifecta. Sectionline Yankee returned $18.20 to her supporters while increasing her bankroll to just under $315,000. The co-feature for the Saturday night card didn't disappoint either. Kanaris and Aaron Merriman set a new track record of 1:48.3 for a 4-year old gelding on the 5/8 mile oval in the $25,000 Open Pace. The previous record of 1:49.4 was set this year by Full Code and Beach Memories. Kanaris is the son of Panspacificflight and Thermopylae. He's trained by Joe Seekman for Tripoli Stable of Illinois. This victory crushed his own career best of 1:51.2 and pushed his lifetime earnings over $200,000. Kanaris started from post seven in the field of eight, but that didn't deter Merriman from leaving. They cleared inside leaver, Beach Memsories and Josh Sutton before the first turn. The first quarter was paced in :26.1. Sutton wasn't content to take the two hole trip, he pulled at the quarter to take over command. They paced single file to the half, clocked in :54.1. Ardyne Ace and Randy Tharps started their rally, pulling first up from third spot and Big Risk, driven by Tony Hall followed suit. The fast pace didn't let up. Beach Memories flew by the three quarters in 1:21.1 with Kanaris in tow. Merriman popped the ear plugs and waited for the stretch to make his move. The two paced 5-lengths clear of their foes and Kanaris had the upper hand to win by a nose over Beach Memories. His stablemate, Santa Fe Beachboy paced home in :27.2 to grab the show spot. The final week of racing in the 2014 season resumes on Wednesday (September 24) post time 6:30 pm. From Scioto Downs Racino

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 19, 2014 -- Visible Gold strolled through a leisurely front half on the lead, then blitzed the back half in 54.2 to capture Friday's harness racing $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. When Dave Palone was able to give Visible Gold fractions of 28/58, the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight -Gabrielle gelding had plenty in the tank to roll home in 1:52.2, 3/4 lengths better than the pocket-sitting Exactly Black. Major Belle raced well first over for show. Ron Burke trains Visible Gold, who has won 10 races this year and $323,444 in his career, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. Palone drove six winners -- three for Burke -- on the 15-race card while Aaron Merriman enjoyed a four-bagger. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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