06/06/2016 10:52PM

Northfield: Jason Merriman picks up 2,000th driving victory

JJ Zamaiko
Jason Merriman in the winner's circle after his 2,000th win.

Jason Merriman made his 2,000th trip to the winner’s circle after winning with Stop Payment in Northfield Park’s sixth race on Monday (June 6).

Merriman led at every call with Stop Payment, eventually besting his competition by 2-3/4 lengths.  The 1:53 2/5 clocking was the 14th career score for the 8-year-old pacer, who returned $7.00 to win.

The 29-year-old Merriman began driving in 2003.  His 2,000 wins have helped him garner over $9 million in purse earnings. 

Merriman is a fourth generation horsemen and grew up immersed in harness racing. 

“I was seven or eight when I jogged my first horse,” recalled Merriman.  “I’ve loved horses as long as I can remember and there has never been a question what my career choice was going to be.”  

After attending Plymouth-Salem High School in Salem, Michigan, Jason Merriman began working with horses full-time.

“I cannot picture myself doing anything else,” said Merriman.

Jason drove his first race in June 2003 at a Michigan fair.  It resulted in a fifth-place finish in a $1,150 conditioned race with Riptide Rush.  In December 2003, Merriman scored his first win.  It was a 1:59 3/5 victory in a $4,900 conditioned trot with I C U Talkin. 

Merriman’s richest win was a $25,000 series final in 2014 at Northfield Park aboard September Hall.  His fastest happened in 2013, a 1:51 1/5 win with Real Samart.  He rates the best horses he has ever driven as Real Samart and Table Wine.   

Jason primarily raced in Michigan for most of his career, but moved his talents to Ohio in late 2013. 

“Coming to Northfield made sense for me because the racing program is lucrative,” explained Merriman.  “I have the ability to drive in more races and earn a lot more money than what I would be able to in Michigan.”

Merriman still resides in Monroe, Michigan and commutes daily to compete at the Flying Turns.  His wife, Nichole, is a Registered Nurse at Dearborn Hospital.  They have two children, a daughter (Alex, age eight) and a son (Chase, age four).  

“I see moving closer to Northfield in our future,” offered Merriman.  “But the timing has to be right when you have a family.”

Jason Merriman is relieved to put the pressure of a milestone behind him.

“I am really glad I finally got this,” said Merriman.  “I can stop thinking about the pressure of getting my 2,000th win and just go back to driving horses with a clear head.”

Merriman feels fortunate to have had good stock to drive in his career and says that winning races is a team effort.

“There have been many people that have given me opportunities and I thank them all,” offered Merriman.

--edited release (Ayers Ratliff for Northfield Park)