The mad math behind the Ohio driver’s third straight 1,000-win season.
by Dave Briggs
Just looking at driver Aaron Merriman’s crazy-impressive numbers is exhausting. I can’t imagine being the guy that put up three straight 1,000-win seasons.
On Monday, the Ohio-based reinsman and 2018 Driver of the Year, recorded seven victories on the day — three at The Meadows and four at Northfield Park — to hit exactly 1,000 wins on the year with a victory in the 14th race with Some More Prince trained by William Rhodes.
Merriman was already the first driver in history to record back-to-back 1,000-win seasons (from 2017-2018), before he extended that record to a third year. As mind-bending as his numbers are, I would never count him out to do it a fourth.
The indefatigable redhead — who at 41 already ranks sixth all-time in North America in wins with 11,974 in just 23 years on the track — has kept up a particularly gruelling schedule since 2017. In the last three years, he has made 13,850 starts, won 3,238 races, collected purses of $27,757,378, won 23 per cent of his races and finished in the top three of 54 per cent of his starts.
In his career, Merriman has more than 64,000 starts and purse earnings exceeding $80 million.
To give you an indication of his work ethic in the last three years alone, consider 21 per cent of his career starts, 27 per cent of his wins and 35 per cent of his earnings have come since 2017 alone.
Over that three-year span, Merriman, who practically works every day, has won nearly one in every four starts while averaging 13 starts, three wins and purses exceeding $25,000 per day when one uses 1,095 days at the office (365 x 3) to do the math. For the record, I’m not about to count up his actual number of work days, but I know the real number isn’t that far off that 1,095 total given his relentless work ethic — and that is jaw-dropping in itself. Merriman has obviously worked through sickness and injuries and all means of horrible weather to put up those digits.
Just imagine working nearly every day for three straight years. Yes, in the horse industry that’s not all that unusual, but compared to the rest of the world, that’s downright nuts.
Given the sheer absurdity of the numbers, it’s safe to say Merriman, the leading driver in Northfield Park history, will never have this record broken.
It’s also safe to say he will be remembered as one of the hardest working drivers in an industry with more than its share.