03/31/2015 2:52PM

Harness: Marohn staying at the Meadowlands

Geri Schwarz
Jim Marohn, Jr. is 10th in the Meadowlands driver standings.

Jimmy Marohn Jr. has been one of harness racing’s best kept secrets over the past few years and in case you’ve missed it, Jimmy Marohn Jr. has officially arrived.

That may sound foolish given that Marohn is now 33 and nearing 3,000 wins in his career.  But Marohn is clearly in the midst of what must be described as his breakout season.

Since it’s opening in 2006, Marohn has been one of the leading drivers at Tioga Downs.  In fact, he is the three-time defending leading driver at the track, winning 235 races at Tioga since 2012 for earnings of over $1.6 Million.  Tioga Downs opening day is slated for May 2nd, and Marohn had to decide, will he continue to drive at The Meadowlands each weekend or will he venture to Tioga where he typically drives the best horses on the grounds and aim for a fourth consecutive driving title over the Nichols, New York oval? 

Faced with the most difficult decision of his young career, Marohn has decided to remain at The Meadowlands on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the championship meet.  For Marohn, the time is now to strike while the iron is hot.  He is planning to drive at Tioga Downs on Sundays, but he will call The Meadowlands home for the rest of the season.  In addition, Marohn will continue to drive at Monticello and Freehold during the week.

“It's been a difficult decision to choose whether to go back to Tioga or take a new route in my career and continue with the meet at the Meadowlands,” said Marohn.  “Tioga has always been good to me, which I am extremely grateful for. It wasn't an easy decision, but in life you have to take risks in order to be successful and this is one of those moments. So I'm going to stay the summer at the Meadowlands.”

Meadowlands C.E.O/General Manager Jason Settlemoir has known Marohn for a long time and is optimistic about his future.  “It has been a privilege to have had Jimmy at Tioga all these years, and we look forward to seeing him on Sundays.  But I am also filled with excitement for him as he takes on this new venture in his career.  The way he has been driving, now is the time for him to take on this challenge.  Simply put, he is the consummate professional and I wish him the best of luck during our Championship Meet at The Meadowlands.”

Through Monday, Marohn is sitting on 108 wins, good for eighth (8th) in the country.  With the first quarter of the racing calendar concluding, Marohn is on pace for over 430 wins and earnings beyond $2.1 Million.  Both would surpass his career best season of 390 wins and $1.76 Million in earnings.

But looking past those numbers, it is what Marohn has done at The Meadowlands this winter that has people talking.

Amazingly, it has been more than 10 years since Marohn earned his first driving victory at The Meadowlands with SJ’s Tostitos in a $20,000 Claiming Handicap Trot in December of 2004.  But over the last decade, Marohn’s wins have been rather sporadic, never winning more than three races in a meet at The Big M until last season, when he won 10 races.  But this meet, Marohn has elevated his game to a new level, winning 25 races.  That number is more wins than Marohn has earned at the East Rutherford oval in the last 10 years combined.

One of Marohn’s best qualities is his humble nature, which was evident in this statement.  “It feels really good to matter there,” referring to The Meadowlands.

Marohn has hooked up with trainer Daniel Gill, whom he has won many races for in New York over the past several years and trainer Rob Harmon, who’s stable has been very live to start the season.

“Both trainers have been an important part in my success at the Meadowlands,” referring to Gill and Harmon, “and I am grateful to have the opportunity to drive for them consistently. In this game you need trainers with good horses that will give you a shot and will stick with you. I have been fortunate to be able to drive for both trainers.”

At present, Marohn sits tenth (10th) in the driver standings at The Meadowlands.  The most impressive aspect of his season thus far is that he has made it into the top 10 in The Meadowlands drivers colony while driving in fewer races than all nine drivers in front him.  In fact, Marohn’s 203 drives is 70 less than Ron Pierce, who is the next closest competitor in both starts and wins, and Marohn has only one less win than the Hall of Famer. By comparison, he has only seven less wins than Andy Miller, who has driven in 168 more races than Marohn.

With Ron Pierce sidelined with an injury and the next closest driver (Trace Tetrick) having nine wins for the meet, Marohn appears to be locked in as a top-10 driver at The Meadowlands for the duration of 2015.  Marohn’s 13-percent (13%) win-rate is tied for fourth this meet, with John Campbell. His 15 wins since February 1st is the sixth highest total of The Meadowlands drivers and his nine wins in the month of March is the fifth highest total of the driving colony, only one less than leading driver Yannick Gingras despite having 20 less drives than anyone in the top-10.

“It's a surreal moment in my career being in the spot that I'm in and competing with the top drivers in the country.  It goes to show you that with hard work and dedication you can get far and achieve success.  You just have to keep at it and prove to trainers and owners that you can get the job done. Hopefully with the solid winter meet that I have had at the Meadowlands it will open the doors for more opportunities.”

The bettors are enjoying Marohn’s efforts as well, as he is the only driver in the top-10 to show a positive return on investment at this point of the season.

Marohn recently turned 33 years old.  That is significant as it is the same age Corey Callahan began driving at The Meadowlands on a regular basis.  Since making the move to The Big M, Callahan has become one of the stars of the sport, winning the Rising Star Award for his 2013 driving campaign, amassing over 1,200 wins over the last two seasons and nearly $19 Million earnings.  This year, Callahan finds himself second in the country with 196 wins and leads all drivers with nearly $1.7 Million in earnings.  While choosing to stay at The Meadowlands doesn’t guarantee the success Callahan has had, it could be the decision that launches the career of Jimmy Marohn Jr. into another stratosphere.

-edited release (Meadowlands)