by Evan Pattak
Aaron Merriman collected career win 15,000 Saturday at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, joining only three others in North American harness history in The 15,000 Club — Dave Palone, Tony Morgan, Herve Filion. Merriman got the milestone victory with So Rockin Ravi in the ninth race.


Merriman was typically nonplussed by his accomplishment.


“It’s unbelievable when you think about it,” he said, “but if I reflect on anything, it’ll be the next race. There will be a time for reflection but not now. I feel that there’s work to be done. But it does make me feel like I’m doing the right thing. That keeps me going.”


A native of Greater Akron, Merriman learned the business from his father, trainer/driver Lanny Merriman. His mother, who teaches at both Kent State University and Miami University, recently relocated and now lives near her son again.


“It’s great to have her around,” he said. 


Merriman began driving in 1997, got his first win the following year and now has won more than $109.5 million in purses. A big chunk of his wins occurred in the last dozen or so years, when he’s commuted between The Meadows and Ohio tracks. In 2017-2018, for example, he put together back-to-back seasons of more than 1,000 wins, and he’s been the sport’s dash champion for eight consecutive years. Just moments after Saturday’s milestone victory, he hustled off to MGM Northfield to drive the evening program there.


That sort of breakneck pace can be injurious to a body’s health — to say nothing of one’s driving record.


“I have zero points on my license, which is a hard accomplishment for me,” he said. “No more rushing for me. If I have to miss a race, I’ll just take the fine.”


As for the bigger questions, such as how long he intends to keep up this pace, Merriman prefers to focus on day-to-day concerns.


“I don’t go with any intention,” he said. “My intention right now is to take a break here and there but keep the people I drive for happy. So it’s a mixture of those two.”