by Evan Pattak for the MSOA
Aaron Merriman, who ranks sixth on North America’s all-time win list, collected career victory 13,000 Wednesday at The Meadows. The milestone win came with Biggiessecondshot in race 8.
Milestones and awards have been coming fast and furious for Merriman, 42, a native of Cuyahoga Falls, OH and harness racing’s six-time reigning dash champion. Although he recorded his first win in 1998, more than half those victories have come since 2014, testament to Merriman’s talent and breakneck schedule as he drives at both The Meadows and Ohio tracks.
While Merriman intends to maintain that frantic pace, he says he’s been cutting back ever so subtly.
“You couldn’t see it last year because it was a COVID year,” he says, “but I tried to cut out some racing on Fridays. I’m trying to find maybe 10 percent of my starts and cut them out to the point where I’m comfortable again. I’m taking days off here and there, and I’m cherishing them more.”
But with his son Kristopher (He also has a daughter, Ava, 6) set to attend Bowling Green State University in the fall, Merriman says he may need to pick up all the race dates he eliminated to fill the void.
“He’ll only be two hours away, but I’ll miss him dearly. I don’t know if I’ll go stir crazy without him.”
Merriman, whose mounts have won more than $88.5 million, indicates that if he is able to slow down, he may use the time to savor the significance of 13,000 victories.
“It’s a lot of wins, and I’m actually very proud to have reached 13,000,” he says. “One day I’ll start looking back and reflecting on this and the names around me on that list. I haven’t won a bunch of major stakes, but I’m just as happy winning a Non-Winners of $750 In The Last 4. Every win means something to the sport, and it means something to the owners.
“Every race is a milestone. I try to take it like that.”