Northfield Park recognized its 2014 harness racing leading driver and trainer on Monday (February 2). Northfield Park Vice President and General Manger, Brent Reitz and Assistant General Manager, Mike Colacarro were in the winner's circle to congratulate Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Brian Loney. They presented them with plaques and each will receive a $100 gift certificate to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. again topped the 2014 local driving ranks, winning 659 races over the Flying Turns. His nearest competitor, Aaron Merriman, drove 475 winners. Josh Sutton (282), Kurt Sugg (191) and Jason Merriman (171) completed the top five reinsmen. Wrenn, 28, resides in Maumee, Ohio and now has three driving titles under his belt. Ronnie won the dash titles at Northfield Park and Northville Downs in 2013. Ronnie's 2014 total victory tally is 847, which was seven wins better than any other driver in North America. Aaron Merriman (840), George Napolitano Jr. (679), David Palone (640) and Bruce Aldrich Jr. (615) completed the top five drivers (by wins) in the continent. Wrenn began driving in 2008 and has won 2,221 races and purses of $9,006,331. Wrenn's richest win ever came in a $200,000 Ohio Sire Stake Final. His fastest win was aboard Rockin Finish in 1:50.0. Northfield Park's 2014 leading trainer Brian Loney won nine more races than any other Cleveland conditioner. He garnered 89 local victories throughout the year. Barry Langley finished second with 80 wins. Virgil Morgan Jr. (72), Jessica Millner (70) and Calvin Hollar (68) complete the top five Northfield Park trainers for 2014. Brian is originally from Hager Hill, Kentucky and has recently relocated to Northfield, Ohio. He has three children: 14 year-old son Gannun, 10 year-old son Payton and 5 year-old daughter Polly. Loney, 36, has 1,185 career victories and purse earnings of $2,549,704. However, 2014 marks his first dash title. Brian remembers his first training win was with the gelding pacer Stealth Fighter, at Fairmount Park. His favorite horse he has ever cared for is Moe Joe Rack It. Ayers Ratliff
Northfield, OH --- After spending the weekend with their families in Michigan, Ron Wrenn Jr. and Jason Merriman hit the road back to Ohio at 4 a.m. to spread some good cheer Monday morning (Dec. 22). Joined by Kurt Sugg, his wife Becky and children Brandon, Kiersten and Kaitlyn, the trio of Northfield Park drivers suited up in their colors and dispersed nearly $3,000 worth of toys, electronics, movies, CDs and gift cards among those at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. The gifts were all gathered within five days through donations from not only Northfield Park horsemen but of those in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, plus individuals who called to give after simply reading of the fundraiser. Heather Miller, an employee of the clinic and longtime horsewoman, helped arrange the visit. The donations will be dispersed and used throughout the year at the hospital's many campuses. The hospital cares for children who range in age of a few months to 18 years old with various medical issues. Many were confined to ventilators, wheelchairs or their beds but none of them were hampered by the ability to smile as Merriman, Sugg and Wrenn entered the room. Spending a few minutes with each child and posing for pictures was an obvious honor for the men who more than willingly gave of their time and resources. “As much as it may have brought joy to the kids, it brings me much more,” said Sugg. Future charitable acts are being planned for horsemen and horsewomen, plus their families. Those under consideration are volunteering at the Akron Food Bank and Haven of Rest Ministries. by Amy Hollar
Long shot players were ecstatic as the horses crossed the wire in the sixth race at Northfield Park on Monday (October 6), when (8) Tommy Two Shoes successfully kicked from the back to win at odds of 68-1. Fowlerville, Michigan's Jeg's Standardbreds Inc. owns the six year-old. Trainer Steve Main called upon Jason Merriman for the winning drive. It was the fifth win this year in 28 starts and represents Tommy Two Shoes' 23rd lifetime score. (8) Tommy Two Shoes (68-1) was followed across the wire by (7) Aligned Hanover (3-1) and (9) Gordieisanartist (8-1). Tommy Two Shoes returned $139.40 to win; the 8-7 Exacta paid $644.20; and the 8-7-9 Trifecta returned a whopping $5,049.40. Kirty Dream was impressive in winning the $12,500 Open Trot. Jeff Hochstetler trains the seven year-old for owner Mario Caponi of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Aaron Merriman was aboard for the winning drive. Kirty Dream (Cantab Hall – Klelia – Cezio Josselyn) was assigned outside. He was parked with cover through initial fractions of :28.1 and :56.4. Merriman tipped the trotter three-wide up the backstretch and was trotting the overland route through the 1:26.3 three-quarters. He secured the front in the final turn and trotted away from his competition by 4-lengths, stopping the timer at 1:56.1. Completing the race were Edit, Easy Strength, Mary’s Darvin, Calling A Victory, Wind Surfer, Lady Rev, Buckeye Man and Rose Run Logan. Monday’s triumph was the eighth win this year for Kirty Dream. It increased his lifetime win tally to 19 and his earnings to $265,459. He returned $5.40 to win. Fiftyshadesdarker took the evening’s $12,500 Open Pace. Brian Loney owns and trains the winning four year-old and enlisted the driving services of Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. Fiftyshadesdarker (Bettor’s Delight – Crystal Slipper – Artiscape) started from post six and virtually led the field from start to finish through fractions of :27.1, :56.1, 1:25.2 and 1:54.1. He was ¾-lengths in front at the finish. Completing the race were Hall Of Memories, Top Of The Mark, Playin For Keeps, T Red, True To Mach, Just Crowned, Our McLovin and Hare Craft. Fiftyshadesdarker now has five wins in 28 starts this year, nine career successes and a bankroll of $72,585. He was the race favorite and paid $5.40 to win. The Open Pace was one of six wins on the evening’s program for Northfield Park leading driver Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. Wednesday Action Returns Wednesday racing has returned to the Flying Turns. Northfield Park is now in action every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a 6:00 p.m. post time. On Wednesdays throughout October, Northfield patrons are encouraged to "Spin N' Win" the Prize Wheel. The Wheel is FREE to spin - and everyone is a winner! by Ayres Ratliff, for Northfield Park
Longshot players were rejoicing in the 12th race at Northfield Park on Thursday (June 26), when (7) Milliondollarflirt successfully kicked from the back to win at odds of 67-1. Macedonia, Ohio's David Lake owns, trains and drove the six year-old. It was the first win this year in sixteen starts and represents Milliondollarflirt's eighth lifetime score. (7) Milliondollarflirt (67-1) was followed across the wire by (3) Corno CC (5-1) and (6) Cin Cardle (80-1). Milliondollarflirt returned $137.40 to win; the 7-3 Exacta paid $913.60; and the 7-3-6 Trifecta returned a whopping $14,591.00. The party continued in race 15 when (6) Dawn Of New Money barreled up the lane to reach the wire first at odds of 54-1. Jason Merriman drove for owner/trainer Steve Novak of South Lyon, Michigan. Dawn Of New Money paid $111.40 to win and led off the $427.60 Exacta and $2,105.20 Trifecta. Earlier on the night, Up Front Kellie Jo captured the $12,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace in the tenth race. She is trained by Ron Steck for owners C. Ed Mullinax and Mark Ford. Keith Kash Jr. was aboard for the winning drive. Up Front Kellie Jo (Bettor's Delight-Life's Highway-Life Sign) started from post six. Kash fired her off the gate, secured the lead and was never headed. She led her competition through fractions of :27, :56, 1:24.4 and 1:54. She bested her competition by a head. Completing the race were Stacked Deck, Sweetheart Dance, Ruler's Best, The Sweet Dion, African Violet, Sparkling Yankee, Ride A Cowboy and So Long My Love. Thursday's win was the ninth victory this year and 47th career score for Up Front Kellie Jo. It bolstered her lifetime earnings to $876,947. She was the race favorite and returned $6.80 to win. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
As the heavy 1-5 favorite faded in the fourth race at Northfield Park on Wednesday (March 26), long shot players were hopeful as horses were five across the track through the stretch. It was 48-1 Artistic Dreamer who eventually prevailed. The 10-year-old pacer is owned and trained by Tony Peregrin of Cuyahoga Halls, Ohio. Jason Merriman was aboard for the upset victory. (7) Artictic Dreamer (48-1) was followed across the wire by (6) Ridge Park (32-1) and (3) Merit Wings (26-1). Heavily favored (1-5) Argon Fire hung on to complete the Superfecta. Artistic Dreamer returned $99.60 to win; the 7-6 Exacta paid $991.40; the 7-6-3 Trifecta returned $17,154.40 for a $1.00 ticket; and the 7-6-3-1 Superfecta paid $1,727.06 for a 10-cent ticket. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
Rose Run Logan trotted home for his fifth straight win Monday (March 17) in Northfield Park's opening race. The seven year-old gelding is owned and trained by Jeff Hochstetler of Urichsville, Ohio. Hochstetler called upon Jason Merriman for the winning drive. Rose Run Logan started from post five and sat the pocket in the first half of the mile through fractions of :28.1 and :57.1. Merriman pulled in the backstretch, took the lead and never looked back, closing out the mile with fractions of 1:26.4 and 1:55.3. The mile clocking represents the trotter's new lifetime mark. Rose Run Logan posted a dominant 5-length margin of victory over his closest competitor, Bookem (Josh Sutton). Monday's triumph was the 11 career success for Rose Run Logan (Armbro Laser-How Miraculous-Baltic Speed) and increased his lifetime earnings to $27,698. He was heavily favored and returned $3.00 to win. In the evening's sixth race, Goodnite Goodluck captured the $9,500 Open Pace for owner Mark Jakubik of West Seneca, New York. Trainer Andy Rickert enlisted the driving services of Aaron Merriman. Goodnite Goodluck (Bettor's Delight-Priority Overnite-Artsplace) started from the rail. He was in the garden spot through fractions of :27, :56 and 1:24.3. Merriman pulled into the passing lane and won by 1 Â¼-length in 1:53.4. Completing the race were Lyons JosephJNR, Man He Can Skoot, Forever Good, Western Churchill, T Red and Curator. Goodnite Goodluck now has 34 career successes. Monday's victory pushed his bankroll to $302,547. He paid a healthy $18.20 to win. Julians Caesar was a repeat winner of the $10,000 Open Trot in the evening's eighth race. Ron Burke trains the seven year-old trotter for owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Chris Page was the winning driver. Julians Caesar (Oaklea Julian-Twin B Lady-Royal Strength) started from post eight and let his competition carve out the fractions of :28.4, :58.2 and 1:28. He took the lead in the stretch and won by a full length in 1:57.4 despite being parked the entire mile. Completing the race were Action-Broadway, Pembroke Snapshot, Hello Carlo, Sure Thing, Mary's Darvin, Mythical Hall and Easy Strength. Monday's triumph increased Julians Ceasar's lifetime win tally to 13 and his earnings to $250,172. Despite winning this race last week, he returned $13.40 to win.
Eight Michigan Sires Stakes (MISS) finals were held on the Monday, Sept. 2, Labor Day afternoon card at Hazel Park, with four going being the gate as non-wagering affairs prior to the regular program. Although for the most part the races consisted of short fields, eight different stallions were represented in the winner's circle. The quartet of races on the betting card got underway with the $35,172 MISS final for 2-year-old male pacers. The Brad Kramer-driven Beastly was fourth at the three-quarters but the gelded son of Stampede Hanover-Todd's Affair rushed past the competition in the final turn to draw clear by 10 1/2 lengths as the 1- 9 favorite in 2:02.2. Man The Torpedo (Skip DeMull) was a distant second, with Chasing Jake (Jason Merriman) third. Kelly Goodwin owns and trains Beastly, who won for the third time in six starts. Kramer sent Lady Laker to the lead from post 7 in the $39,377 MISS final for 3-year-old filly trotters, and by the :58.1 half she had a three-length lead, expanding the margin to seven lengths at the 1:27 three-quarters. The 1-9 favorite then cruised to the wire 15 lengths in front in 1:58. Defending MISS champion Kendall Marie (Peter Otten) finished second, with Crazy Sherry (Carl Putnam Jr.) third. A daughter of Lockkeeper-Hyercass, Lady Laker is trained by Al Tomlinson for owner David Vanderhyde. She was undefeated in four starts in 2012, and in 2013 her four wins also include the Hanover in mid-July at Balmoral Park. Her earnings went past the $100,000 mark with her MISS win on Monday. Ovewhelming favorite That'll Be The Rei successfully defended his MISS title as Mike Micallef directed the son of Cheyenne Rei-Unspeakable Joy gelding to a wire-to-wire, 1:55.1 victory in the $37,827 MISS final for sophomore male pacers. That'll Be The Rei defeated runner-up Lexington Avenue (Kody Massey) by five lengths, with Sharp Cheeser (Darrell Wright) third. Micallef also trains That'll Be The Rei for owner Dan Courtemanche. The win was his ninth in 14 starts this year and 18th overall in 24 career starts. That'll Be The Rei increased his earnings to more than $120,000 with the victory. Haberdashery busted the favorite brigade wide open in the last of the four betting races with a 50-1 upset in the $40,077 MISS final for 3-year-old male trotters. The 1-2 favorite Zeplin, driven by Goodwin, appeared on his way to victory but when he broke stride in the stretch, it paved the way for Haberdashery and driver Jeff Sweeney to go on to the 2:02.4 victory. Zeplin recovered to finish second, with Winwood Scout and driver DeMull third. A gelded son of Keystone Nordic-Ready Elegance, Haberdashery won for the first time in six career starts. The winner is trained and owned by Chris Allen. All four early races were won in relatively easy fashion. Lady Windsor started things off with a 2:00.1 victory for trainer-driver Wright in the five-horse, $35,272 MISS final for 2-year-old filly trotters. Keep It Sweet (Larry Lee Smith) was 13 lengths back in second, with Best Friend Always (Todd Buter) another 18 lengths behind in third. E.J. Underwood III owns Lady Windsor, a daughter of Coventry-Rhonda T. The career-best win was her sixth straight in seven career starts. Scrappy Alex and trainer-driver Putnam led wire to wire in the $35,222 MISS final for 2-year-old male trotters to score in 2:09.3. SS RC CR (Rex Putnam) finished 2 3/4 lengths behind in second, with Just A Kid (Tim Roach) third. A gelded son of Scrappy Robert-Classic Enterprise, Scrappy Alex is owned by Sam Heron. The win was his fourth in nine starts. Kramer and Kayla Grace romped to a 15 1/4-length win in 1:58 in the $34,372 MISS final for 2-year-old filly pacers. Sue's Your Daddy (Jeff Sweeney), TC Country (Otten) and Winwood Elle (DeMull) finished second, third and fourth, respectively, as the short field crossed the wire in post-position order. A daughter of He's All That-A Maze Of Grace, Kayla Grace remained undefeated in nine starts. She is trained by Marie "Ginny" St. Charles, who shares ownership withEd and Cheryl Sayfie's ECS Racing. Super Soph, whose nine-for-nine freshman season in 2012 included the MISS final, successfully defended that title with a career-best 1:53.2 score in the $34,627 contest for 3-year-old filly pacers. Jason Merriman was in the sulky as Super Soph led gate to wire to defeat Don't Stare (Keith Crawford) by 2 1/2 lengths, with Reiwatch (Kramer) third. A full sister to Canadian Hall of Fame inductee Admirals Express, Super Soph is a daughter of Admirals Galley-Platinum Card. Greg West trains Super Soph for owners Ryan Morefield, Brian Campbell and Mark Wamp. Her earnings now stand at more than $128,000. Submitted by Hazel Park Publicity Department
Eight Michigan Sires Stakes (MISS) championships will be contested on a special Labor Day afternoon card on Monday, Sept. 2, at Hazel Park Raceway. Four races will be held on the holiday card that gets underway at 1:30 p.m., while four will be raced as non-betting races prior to the program at 11:30 a.m. All four MISS 2-year-old champions are in this year’s finals and have a chance to repeat. The quartet of horses, who were also all named 2012 champions in their respective divisions by the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association, includes the 3-year-old filly pacer Super Soph, who went undefeated in nine starts last year. Trained by Greg West and owned by Brian Campbell, Mark Wamp and Ryan Morefield, Super Soph has six wins in 13 starts this year, including the Michigan Breeders Futurity on Aug. 19 at Hazel Park. A daughter of Admirals Galley, Super Soph is a full sister to Canada’s 2005 Horse of the Year Admiral’s Express, who was just inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The $34,627 MISS final for 3-year-old filly pacers is one of the four early races, with the Jason Merriman-driven Super Soph leaving from post 1 against just three rivals, including Spartan Futurity winner Reiwatch. On the wagering program, Kendall Marie will try to defend her title in the $39,377 MISS final for 3-year-old filly trotters. The daughter of Keystone Nordic has four wins in 14 starts this year, including the Spartan Futurity on Aug. 13 at Midland. Peter Otten will drive for trainer Keith Hough from post 4 in Race 7. Reigning champ That’ll Be The Rei, who amassed a nine-race win streak last year, brings a five-race skein into Monday’s $37,827 final for 3-year-old male pacers. Trained and driven by Mike Micallef, That’ll Be The Rei’s current streak includes the Wolverine Futurity at Holland in late July. The daughter of Cheyenne Rei will start from post 4 in the 8th race. The 3-year-old gelding trotter Zeplin won just twice last year in nine starts but one of those efforts came in the MISS final. The son of Hard Rock N Roll has two wins again this year, one of which was a victory in the Michigan Breeders Futurity last time out on Aug. 19 at Hazel Park. Trained and driven by Kelly Goodwin, Zeplin will start from post 3 in the $40,077 final that is scheduled as Race 9. The only race for 2 year olds on the pari-mutuel card is the $35,172 final for colt pacers. Scheduled as Race 2, the five-horse field includes Michigan Breeders Futurity winner Beastly, who will be driven by Brad Kramer from post 4, and Spartan Futurity winner Man The Torpedo, who will start from post 2 with driver Skip DeMull. Admission and parking at Hazel Park are free. The track will also offer concession specials on Monday as well as live music. By Hazel Park Publicity Department
Fox Valley Armor paced home for his 50th career victory on Wednesday (May 8) in Northfield Park's fourth race. The harness racing 11-year old has 236 career starts, winning 50 times, and finishing second and third 33 and 29 times respectively.
The day after he broke his ankle in an August 5 on-track accident at Raceway Park, harness racing driver Jason Merriman was at Hazel Park, wrapped in a cast, trying to convince the state race stewards that he was ready for action.
Whenever harness racing driver Jason Merriman travels to a new track, he is greeted by the same question: No, he is not related to Aaron Merriman. But that's not to say Merriman is without family ties in harness racing. Although he is not related to Aaron Merriman, a well-known driver with more than 5,150 wins to his credit, Jason Merriman notes proudly that he is a fourth generation horseman on both sides of his family.