Driver Aaron Merriman joined harness racing’s 5,000-win club on Monday, Feb. 20 at his home track of Northfield Park.
The Northfield, Ohio resident entered the 13-race card just two wins shy from the milestone and got to work quickly steering home second race winner Legacys Best ($6.20) for trainer Brian Georges.
Merriman came close in the fifth race, missing the mark by less than a length with the Darrell Rideout-trained Country Creek, but scored a decisive career win 5,000 later in the ninth race with upsetter Genesis See Yah ($17.80), who won by more than 10 lengths, for conditioner Ryan Angus. He then got started on his next thousand with one more victory in the finale aboard Grammas Guy ($11.20) for trainer Don Pfister.
The 33-year-old reinsman is the fifth youngest driver to reach the 5,000-win milestone. Merriman, who was leading dash-winning driver in North America in 2010 before he was sidelined for four months with multiple broken bones from a racing accident, enjoyed a career year in 2009 winning 706 times, good for third place among all drivers, and earning $5.05 million in purses.
He averaged 590 victories per season from 2006 through 2009 and was the top driver at Northfield all four years. Last year, Merriman split his time between Northfield and The Meadows on his way to winning 445 races and earning $3.61 million. The purse total was the second best of his career. So far this year, Merriman has won 50 times while banking over $400,000 in purses. (Northfield Park)