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Ohio Chapter USHWA announces 2016 awards
Monday, January 09, 2017 - by Jay Wolf, for the Ohio Chapter USHWA

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Delaware, OH --- The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will hand out its annual awards at the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association banquet on Saturday (Jan. 21) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbus (Worthington).

The Ohio Chapter has voted Aaron Merriman as the recipient of the Winner’s Circle Award for the Ohioan who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the past year; named Eric Tharps, Jr. as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner as the young Ohioan who is an “up-and-coming” star among harness horsemen; elected Joe Marsh Jr. into the Immortal Hall of Fame; selected Dunkster into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and will honor Jim Buchy as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades.

Merriman, 38, won his second straight national dash title in 2016. He finished 201 wins ahead of second place George Napolitano Jr. His $7.67 million in earnings ranked eighth in North America. The resident of Northfield, Ohio has driven nearly 8,800 career winners and earned $52.8 million.

Eric Tharps Jr. is a 24-year-old resident of Kettering, Ohio. Tharps had 36 wins and his drives earned $240,933 in purse money. Tharps has been driving at regularly at Northfield Park this season.

Marsh was one of the Midwest’s greatest drivers. The native of Findlay, Ohio, drove 5,882 winners, earning $36,401,271. He has the longest streak (35 years) of driving at least 100 winners per season, from 1960 through 1994. He was the first American driver to win the World Driving Championship in 1974.

Dunkster earned $894,320 during his 11-year career on the track. The gelded son of Striking Shabra won 89 of 287 career starts and took his lifetime mark of 1:53.3 during his 8-year-old season. He was owned by Dean Davis, conditioned by Kurt Sugg and bred by Jack Tramonte and Paul H. Bailey.

Ohio State Representative Jim Buchy, a former horse owner and a longtime friend of harness racing at the track and in state government, served in the Ohio House from 1983 until he was term-limited in 2000. He was re-appointed to the Ohio House in 2011. He is a native of Greenville, Ohio, has supported the sport on several occasions including full card simulcasting legislation in the 1980s and was a tireless supporter of the efforts to bring the Video Lottery Terminals to Ohio's racetracks.

For banquet information, please visit or call 800.353.6442.

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