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LEBANON, OH. - Friskie Lil Devil, who captured the $200,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship for freshman pacing fillies in her final 2014 start, opened her 2015 harness racing campaign by copping the $38,000 James K. Hackett Memorial championship race at Miami Valley on Friday night.   Driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. decided to take the safest route possible by leaving alertly and cutting all the fractions in an impressive gate-to-wire performance.   The pride of the Lil Devil Stable, the Brian Brown-trainee coasted through quarter splits of :27.3, :57.4, 1:27.1 and 1:55.4 to garner the relatively easy 1-1/2 length victory over stablemate Corner Girl (Josh Sutton) and E Ticket Ride (Dan Noble).   With the Hackett victory, Friskie Lil Devil is approaching $200,000 in career earnings from just nine lifetime races with three wins and six place finishes.   Sent off at 3-5 odds on Friday she will undoubtedly be favored again next weekend when the first legs of the 2015 Ohio Sires Stakes for sophomore pacers and trotters are scheduled at Miami Valley.   The Brian Brown Stable enjoyed a huge night as Candy's A Virgin also captured the $17,050 Fillies and Mares Open Pace in her initial 2015 start; and her stablemate Candy's A Virgin won the $21,000 distaff invitational at Hoosier Park within the same hour. Both daughters of Always A Virgin, owned by Emerald Highlands Farm, are being pointed next at the $75,000 (est.) Chip Noble Memorial Grand Circuit stake for older female pacers on Sunday, May 3, which is closing day on the Miami Valley season.   Reinsman Chris Page guided Candy's A Virgin towards the front from the outside post position in a field of eight, gaining command just past a :26.2 first quarter. After tripping the middle teletimer beams in :54.3 and 1:23.3, the gray four-year-old posted a :28.3 final panel to win by a comfortable length in 1:52.1. Favored Native Dream (Dan Noble) sat the pocket throughout and finished second with Tarport Belle (Josh Sutton) finishing strong to complete the trifecta ticket.   Page had five trips to the winner's circle during the 12-race card. His other winners were Fox Valley Bonita (1:56.3), trotter Mischievous Jesse (1:58.1), Sectionline Aqua (1:53.2) and Buckeye Thea (1:54.1).   Racing resumes Saturday night at 6:30 with the $30,000 Hackett Memorial for pacing colts and an $18,150 Open Pace on tap.   Gregg Keidel

Ronnie Wrenn Jr., winner of more races than any other harness racing driver in North America in both 2013 and 2014 was at it again on Monday (April 20) at Northfield Park. He won four races on the 15-race program including both the $13,000 Open Pace and $13,000 Open Trot. Rockin Finish was impressive in winning the evening's Open Pace. Virgil Morgan Jr. trains the six year-old gelding for Canadian owner Gerrie Tucker. Rockin Finish (Rocknroll Hanover - Please Me Please - Camluck) started from the far outside and was parked every step while his competition carved stiff fractions of :26.2, :55.1 and 1:23.4. Rockin Finish struck the lead in the stretch and bested his competition by a half-length, in 1:53.4. Completing the race were Fancy Creek Elusive, Hotunderthecollar, Action Metro Max, Solar Surprise and Artist Night. Espen De Vie did not finish. Monday's triumph was the fourth win in 13 starts this year for Rockin Finish. It increased his lifetime win tally to 25 and his earnings to $376,947. He returned $17.60 to win. Victory Is Coming was the winner of the weekly Open Trot. Betty and John Shaw own the eight year-old. Ammon Hershberger conditions the buckeye-bred trotting mare. Victory Is Coming (Victory Sam - Norse Comer - Overcomer) left alertly from post four and led her competition at every call. She set well-rated fractions of :28.1, :58, 1:27.1 and 1:55.4 and was 2 1/2-lengths in front at the finish. Completing the race were Edit, Julians Caesar, Easy Strength, Zorgwijk Mercedes, Viewlander, Kirty Dream and Mama Made Me Blue. Victory Is Coming now has three wins in seven starts this year, 53 career successes and a bankroll of $584,595. She was the heavy favorite and paid $2.80 to win. Ayers Ratliff  

Champagne Tonight ended her harness racing career the same way it began - with a win. She was victorious in her final trip around a racing oval when she crossed the wire a winner in the 10th race at Northfield Park on Thursday (April 9). Ronnie Wrenn Jr. piloted the five year-old mare from the second tier and let her competition carve out the :27.2, :55.4 and 1:25.2 ambitious fractions. Wrenn swooped Champagne Tonight three-deep in the final turn, struck the lead in the stretch and stopped the timer in 1:56. Northfield Park Wall of Famer, Clair Umholtz trains the pacer for Umholtz Racing Inc. and Kennedy Sports Corporation. Champagne Tonight (Western Terror-Lake Shore Drive-Real Desire) leaves the track after winning 14 times and making the ticket a total of 29 of her 56 starts. She bankrolled $330,521 and took a 1:51.3 mark at the age of two at Pocono Downs. Since day one after purchasing Champagne Tonight as a yearling for $10,000 the Umholtz/Kennedy partnership could not have been happier with her. "She trained down beautifully and been a dream to race," said Umholtz. "She is definitely the best horse I have ever had." Her connections have decided to breed her to Somebeachsomewhere (PA) and hope to have a healthy foal in 2016 that will possess Champagne Tonight's heart, talent and passion for racing. Champagne Tonight was one of six wins on the Thursday card for Ronnie Wrenn Jr. Ayers Ratliff

Harness racing driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. ended 2014 winning at a historic rate and the beginning of a new season has done little to slow him down. No driver in harness racing history has more wins in his first four consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 starts than Wrenn's total of 2,148 victories from 2011-14. Brett Miller is second, with 1,745 from 1999-2002. Wrenn captured his second consecutive national driving title last year, winning 847 races. It was the highest victory total since Tony Morgan's 961 triumphs in 2008. In the process, Wrenn also joined a small group of drivers to win at least 700 races in back-to-back years. The others are Morgan, Tim Tetrick, Dave Palone, Walter Case Jr., Jack Moiseyev, Herve Filion, and Mike Lachance. Entering Friday, Wrenn had 174 wins this year, a total that placed him third in North America. Corey Callahan led with 181 victories, followed by Aaron Merriman with 179. Wrenn is bidding to become the first driver since Morgan to claim three consecutive national driving titles. Morgan, who has won 14,992 races in his career, accomplished the feat from 1995-97. "Each year I just want to better myself," Wrenn said. "Each of the last four years I've won more and been more successful and made more money. I've been at the right place at the right time and I've driven for a lot of good trainers. I've been lucky. It helps to have a little horsepower." On Saturday, the Ohio-based Wrenn will visit The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for its opening night. It will be Wrenn's first trip to Pocono, where he has 10 drives on the card. Wrenn is the two-time defending driving champion at Northfield Park, but that track is dark on Saturdays. "My Saturdays, I really haven't had much going on," Wrenn said. "I was racing back home in Michigan a little bit just to take it easy and be closer to home until Scioto (Downs) starts. My plan right now is to go to Pocono on Saturdays and we'll just see what happens. "I love racing in Ohio and I've got a lot of good connections here and it's a growing state for sure. I like racing at Northfield. I'm still planning on going to Scioto when it opens on May 2. We'll just see what happens. I'm going to take it one day at a time, one weekend at a time, and we'll see how it goes." Wrenn was pleased to get so many drives for Saturday's Pocono card. He has two morning-line favorites and several other horses with favorable ML odds. "I'm very happy," Wrenn said. "For my first time out there it looks like I should be able to do some good hopefully. I've never been out there. I'm excited to go out there and drive with some drivers I've never driven with and work with some different horses." The 28-year-old Wrenn didn't begin driving on a full-time basis until 2011 because of focusing on college. He has won 2,346 races and earned $9.50 million in purses since starting his career on the fair circuit in his home state of Michigan three years earlier. Wrenn, who won the 2013 national driving title with 714 victories, captured his second title last season thanks to a near-record December. Wrenn won 119 races in December - just three triumphs shy of Morgan's record for a single month set in June 2008 - to overtake Merriman in the final days of the year. He finished six wins ahead of Merriman. The title was special to Wrenn, who missed time in January 2014 because of wrist surgery and endured the loss of his father to cancer in May. "Winning it for the first time was definitely awesome, but last year it seemed like I overcame a lot of adversity," said Wrenn, who changed his driver colors to his father's black and maroon. "I think it meant a little more. I think my mom appreciated it quite a bit. I think she was a little overwhelmed by it. I was happy for that. "Aaron definitely had a great year. Just to be able to put together a little run at the end of the year and get it done was pretty cool. I just caught a lot of live drives. "If I could get three (titles) in a row, that would be awesome. But there are guys like Aaron and some others who are always in the top five that make it really tough. Hopefully I can stay healthy and just have a good year." Following is the list of the top 10 drivers for total wins in the first four consecutive seasons in which they had at least 1,000 starts: Name -- Wins -- Years -- Age at start Ronnie Wrenn Jr. -- 2,148 -- 2011-14 -- 25 Brett Miller -- 1,745 -- 1999-2002 -- 26 Eric Carlson -- 1,719 -- 2009-12 -- 34 Gaetan Lamy -- 1,714 -- 1990-93 -- 43 Jordan Stratton -- 1,706 -- 2007-10 -- 20 Corey Callahan -- 1,679 -- 2007-10 -- 29 Marcus Miller -- 1,572 -- 2009-12 -- 20 Scott Zeron -- 1,540 -- 2008-11 -- 19 Tony Hall -- 1,522 -- 2004-07 -- 26 Matt Kakaley -- 1,480 -- 2007-10 -- 19 by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Harness racing fans in Western New York are in for a treat Saturday night at Buffalo Raceway as defending United States dash driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. comes to the Hamburg half-mile oval and will battle the red-hot Kevin Cummings in what is the best card of the 2015 season thus far.   Wrenn Jr., who had 847 victories last year to win the crown, is off to another excellent start in 2015. He sits in third place in the national dash standings with 144 victories. He trails leader Aaron Merriman who has 152 wins and Corey Callahan who has 145 victories.   In 2014, Wrenn Jr. was successful during his time at Buffalo Raceway. He produced 48 victories in 153 starts with $226,185 in earnings and a gaudy UDR of .467. Wrenn Jr. sports an overall UDR of .401 this season.   Cummings, who is the runaway leader in the Buffalo Raceway driver's standings with 63, is coming off a seven-win night on Wednesday. He is currently producing victories at a 30 percent clip.   In 211 starts in 2015, Cummings has 63 wins, 29 second place finishes and 34 show spots for a UDR of .429 which puts him 5th nationally. His closest rival locally is Billy Dobson with 45 wins, but he has returned to Saratoga Raceway. Cummings has earned over $250,000 in purses already this year.   Back on Friday, February 6th, Cummings scored his 3,000th career victory aboard Most Happy Rider and he's making a beeline toward 4,000 quickly.   Since the start of the 2014 season, Cummings has amassed 234 wins at Buffalo Raceway and 397 on the Western New York circuit. His nearest rival during that span is Ron Beback Jr. who has 164 victories.   Wrenn Jr. and Cummings will go head-to-head in 11 of 13 races Saturday night. Wrenn Jr. isn't scheduled to drive in the ninth and 13th races.   There's some great racing on tap as well with the $26,200 Niatross Knockout Claiming Series final set with One Chaser (Cummings) the morning line favorite at 2-1.   One Chaser, the 1-9 choice in last week's semi-finals, was stunned by Delightful Caitlin (Beback Jr.). One Chaser, however, had the fastest time in the series with a 1:57.3.   Besides One Chaser and Delightful Caitlin, the remaining field includes Dedalos (Drew Monti), Nora Lee (Greg Merton), It Was An Honor (Wrenn Jr.), Goddess's Justin (Jack Flanigen), Shaolin Master (John Cummings Jr.) and Jettison (Shawn T. Gray). The finals will go off as the 8th race.   The top four finishers in this race will return for a $25,000 Invitational later this season. They will go against the top four finishers in another Niatross Knockout Claiming Series which gets underway in a few weeks.   The racing begins on Saturday night at 6:35 p.m. with 13 events scheduled.   For more information including race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Despite driving in arctic temperatures, Ronnie Wrenn Jr. kept hot hands throughout Northfield Park's 15-race harness racing program on Thursday (February 26). Wrenn piloted seven winners on the card. Wrenn's scores included South Beach Babe ($4.80) in race two, Rosy Fire ($3.80) in race five, Kayleigh's Future ($5.80) in race six, Bella Knight ($3.20) in race seven, Eyewitness Account ($6.20) in race nine, Sweetheart Dance ($3.20) in race 11 and Machnazetrois ($13.20) in race 12. Wrenn, 28, began driving in 2008 and has since garnered over 2,300 career victories. He is approaching $9.3M in total purse earnings. Wrenn has posted 84 victories so far this year over Northfield's Flying Turns, placing him second in the local driving ranks behind Aaron Meriman (104). Ryan Stahl (35), Jason Merriman (34) and Kurt Sugg (30) complete Northfield's top-five drivers. Northfield Park Adds $20,000 Pick-4 Total Pool Guarantee to Monday's Card Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $20,000 Pick-4 total pool guarantee to Monday's (March 2) program. Beginning in Race 8, the $20,000 Pick-4 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $4,070.84. Northfield's Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3's offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent. Monday's post time is 6:00 p.m. Ayers Ratliff

Activator paced home for his 50th harness racing career victory, winning the 4th race at Northfield Park on Tuesday (February 17). The 14 year-old veteran has 351 career starts, winning 50, and finishing second and third 50 and 58 times respectively. Activator (Western Hanover - Something Electric - Artsplace) has impressive career earnings of $871,328 and a lifetime mark of 1:49.4 at Meadowlands Racetrack at age four. The pacer's richest win was for a purse of $44,180 in an Open Pace at Mohawk Raceway in 2008. Activator is a well-traveled campaigner -- his 50 wins have been spread across 16 different racing surfaces. Activator started from post nine and rode the rail while his competition set fractions of :28.1, :57.3 and 1:27.3. He found room in the stretch and bested his competition by a quarter-length in 1:57.3. Activator was the race favorite and returned $3.20 to win. Preston Kinsey of Clayton, Delaware owns Activator. His trainer Scot Davidson called upon Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the winning drive. Davidson currently holds the highest UTRS (.611) of all conditioners in North America so far in 2015. Ayers Ratliff

Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Northfield Park's leading driver and North America's Harness Racing Dash Winning Champion in 2013 and 2014 is the latest local celebrity being honored with a Burger of the Week at the Hard Rock Cafe. The Cafe is located in the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park adjacent to the racetrack. The Wrenn burger will be available all week beginning today. The personable 28 year old reinsman, with an assist from his girlfriend Briana Wood, delivered his favorite burger toppings to the culinary experts at the Rocksino, Executive Chef Chris Poplin and Executive Sous Chef Aniceto Torres. The chef's created a tasty southwestern specialty featuring a brioche bun, eight ounces of freshly ground beef topped with pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, sliced avocado, pico de gallo and honey chipotle sauce. "If I would have left it up to Ronnie," quipped Briana, "we would be eating a hamburger with ketchup." Ronnie and Brianna will be in the Hard Rock Cafe today at 1pm to greet fans who want to try the new burger. Wrenn Jr., a standout centerfielder on his college baseball team and one of harness racing's rising stars, drove 847 winners last year with 659 of them coming at Northfield. His victorious mounts earned purses in excess of $4.2 million. After his appearance at the Cafe, Wrenn will drive in 14 races on Northfield Park's Monday evening card scheduled to begin at 6 pm. About Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park is the premier entertainment and gaming destination in Northeast Ohio, located on the Northfield Park harness racing grounds, which offers more than 200 live harness races each year. True to Cleveland's musical history as a birthplace of rock 'n' roll, the Rocksino offers the legendary vibe of the Hard Rock brand, including more than 2,200 gaming devices offered both inside and outside, varied dining options and unparalleled live music events. The Hard Rock Live music venue, the fifth of its kind, hosts sell-out crowds of up to 2,600 guests for live entertainment by renowned musicians, in addition to hosting guests for a variety of functions and banquets. Hard Rock fans enjoy phenomenal dining at the world-famous Hard Rock Cafe; Kosar's Wood-Fired Grill, football legend Bernie Kosar's finest steakhouse; Fresh Harvest, an endless buffet with seven action stations; and Constant Grind, a bistro with sandwiches, sweets and more. In addition, the Rocksino offers a Rock Shop with famed Hard Rock merchandise to take home memories of the Rocksino experience, as well as a 310-seat live venue, Club Velvet, featuring comedians and illusion acts that is also readily available for private parties and events. As a focal point for the Center Bar leading into Hard Rock Cafe, Van Halen's red hot motorcycle makes "everybody want some" as one of many "arena rock" pieces from Hard Rock's unmatched, priceless memorabilia collection at the Rocksino. For more information about Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, please visit  

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

LEBANON, OH. - Shine N Shimmer slid into town Friday night and captured the $16,500 Mares Open pace at Miami Valley Raceway in 1:52.3, just two-fifths of a second off the harness racing track record for aged pacing mares despite 26 degree temperatures and gusting winds. Driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr., the 2014 national dash champion, pushed the seven-year-old American Ideal mare right to the front when the wings folded and was able to maintain the lead through fractions of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:24.1. The winner, shipping in from the east coast where she earned $95,413 with eight wins in 2014, beat Igottafeelinfran (Dan Noble)-the winner of last year's Ohio Sires Stakes championship for older mares, making her first seasonal start-and Metro Shopping (Tyler Smith), who got the show dough. Jim Ellison trains now trains Shine N Shimmer for the partnership of Dandy Farms and Howard Taylor. She paid $8.80 to win. Earlier on the program the $8200 championship final of the "Claim To Fame" series for $5000 claiming trotters was contested. Upset winner was JW's Jasmine (Kyle Ater), who topped King Trut (Josh Sutton) and Pacific Wave K (Ken Holliday) at odds of 14-1. The winner got away third as Beauregret carved wicked trotting fractions of :27.2 and :56.1 to the half. Ater came first up headed to the three-quarters where his nine-year-old mare stuck a head in front in 1:25.4. Her :30.3 final panel was enough to garner the championship for the pride of the Baron Racing Stable and trainer George Anthrop. The Saturday night card at Miami Valley will feature a $14,500 Open Pace as well as the $20,000 championship leg of the "Claim To Fame" series for $12,500 horses and geldings. Miami Valley will also provide the only live harness racing action in the United States on Super Bowl Sunday with a 3:00 p.m. post time. The matinee program should wrap-up about a half hour before kickoff of the Patriots-Seahawks clash, which will be shown throughout the Miami Valley casino and bars on dozens of large-screen television monitors. Gregg Keidel

Swartz Creek, MI --- Ronnie Wrenn Jr. won six races on Wednesday night (Dec. 31) at Sports Creek Raceway, giving him 849 victories for the season and his second consecutive North American dash crown. Wrenn won last year’s dash title with 714 wins. Wrenn and Aaron Merriman were in a fierce battle 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 racing action on Dec. 12. But Wrenn closed out the month by winning 78 races over the final three weeks and vaulted past Merriman by one tally when he won four times on the Dec. 29 card at Northfield Park. He extended that margin to five when posting six wins to Merriman's two on Dec. 30 at Northfield. Both drivers headed to Sports Creek on Wednesday night with Wrenn winning six and Merriman scoring once. That gave Wrenn 849 winning drives for the season to Merriman's 839.   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. From the USTA Media Department

Ronnie Wrenn Jr. has found his mojo at the right time -- putting some distance between himself and Aaron Merriman with only one night of racing left to determine the 2014 National Dash Driving Title. Wrenn entered Northfield Park's Tuesday (December 30) program with a slim 837 - 836 lead over Aaron Merriman. He exited the card with a five win lead,  843 - 838. Wrenn's six wins included Mantaculater in race two, Romantic Play Date in race four, Credit Report in race five, Heeza Nordic in race nine, Mr Apollo in race 11 and Detroiter in race 12. Merriman's driving double consisted of Jojo In The Sky in race 14 and Movin' N Shakin' in race 15. The two are scheduled to square off again one final time in 2014 on Wednesday night at Sports Creek Raceway in Michigan. The Wednesday action is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park  

Talk about a battle right to the wire, harness drivers Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Aaron Merriman went at it neck and neck right down to the last of 16 races at Northfield Park Monday, but Wrenn emerged one win ahead of Merriman for the National Harness Racing Driving Title once the program was finished. Going into Monday’s card, Merriman held the national lead by one win, 834 to 833 over Wrenn. But Wrenn drew first blood and then some as he won three straight races, the 3rd, 4th and 5th races and then the tenth race to score a four-bagger on the night. Merriman still had some gas in the tank for the later races as he answered back with a driving double, winning the 13th and 15th races to close the margin to just one win in favor of Wrenn. Merriman had five second place finishes on the night to just one for Wrenn. Wrenn now has 837 victories to Merriman's 836 wins. Now the action resumes at Northfield Park on Tuesday night as both drivers will compete in all 16 races on the program. But it does not end there as Wrenn and Merriman will take it right down to the wire as both drivers will compete on the New Year’s Eve card at Sports Creek Raceway in Michigan with first post at 7 pm. The biggest winner on the card Monday at Northfield Park was Greg Grismore, who led all drivers with five winners. By Steve Wolf, for

Northfield, OH --- Aaron Merriman and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. continued their rockem sockem battle as each harness racing driver won four races on the Sunday night (Dec. 28) program at Northfield Park, which allowed Merriman to maintain his one victory lead in the North American dash standings. Wrenn had the hot hands early on Sunday night and briefly took over the top spot after winning the second, fourth, fifth and seventh races on the Sunday program, but Merriman came roaring back later on to win races nine, 10, 13 and 14. Merriman now has 834 victories on the campaign, while Wrenn has 833 wins. The two drivers will battle once again Monday night at Northfield Park. Each has a mount in all 16 of the races on the card. With files from the USTA

Ronnie Wrenn Jr. posted 714 wins in 2013, 69 more than any other driver in North America. In his quest to repeat as the winningest driver again this year, only one driver stands in his way, his friend and nightly competitor, Aaron Merriman. Wrenn started Friday (December 26) with 816 wins this year, which trailed Merriman's win tally by 10. Throughout Northfield Park's 16-race program, he whittled that lead to five. While Merriman posted three solid wins on the night, Wrenn made eight trips to the Winner's Circle. With five days left in 2014, both Merriman and Wrenn are chasing the driving title. "I have to continue getting horses in the right spots and winning races. "We race horses to win, that is what I like to do and that is why I'm in this sport," explained Wrenn. "A couple of weeks ago I did not like my chances at all. I just wanted the race between Aaron and I to go away, but things have really come together and I have been able to have some really big nights in the last week or so, putting me with a shot to win again." Meanwhile, Merriman states that becoming the 2014 National Dash Champion would be icing on the cake for the unbelievable year that he 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. Merriman has taken Saturday off, while Wrenn has a full slate of drives in the 13-race program at Sports Creek Raceway. Both drivers will be back at the Flying Turns on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Neither driver has fully committed, but are both keeping the option open of driving at Sports Creek on Wednesday (December 31), depending on how the numbers stack up between now and then. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

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

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