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(Photo courtesy of Paul White)

Press Release:

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
 
The first race at Batavia Downs Friday night (Sept. 8) may have only been a $6,500 Excelsior B pace for first-year fillies, but to one participant of the race it was a once in a lifetime milestone.

After finishing second with Fast Date in 1:57.2, Jim Morrill Jr. surpassed the $100,000 million dollar mark in career earnings. That places him 22nd on the list among all harness drivers in the history of the sport.

Morrill got his start in the business working for his father at Foxboro Park. The elder Morrill, an accomplished driver himself, always had a small stable there and he laid the groundwork for his son and helped him hone his skills. Jim Morrill Jr. got his first driving start in 1984 and from there he was on his way.

“My father meant everything to my career. He set down everything to get me going when he was still driving and put me on every horse in the barn. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time and would drive one bad here or there and if the owner complained about it, he told them to take their horse to somebody else. And then he’d come back to me and tell me “you cost me another horse you little whelp.”

The family’s operation was eventually moved to Maryland and Rosecroft Raceway where the number of horses in the barn grew. Besides driving his father’s stock, Morrill started getting a lot of catch drives and soon was finding himself in demand.
Rosecroft used to take six-weeks off during Christmas each year and Morrill didn’t want to sit idle, so in 1990 he went to New York and started driving for Ray Schnittker and George Anthony at Yonkers Raceway. He soon found a lot of success there as well and decided that move would be permanent.

Morrill recalls his most memorable races as being the 2004 Meadowlands Pace where Holborn Hanover was a 58-1 upset winner in 1:49, equaling the stake mark and the 2009 Jugette where Showherthemoney made a break in her elimination before coming back to win that race and the final as well three races later.

Jim Morrill Jr. left the New York metropolitan area in 2005 and relocated his business and family to western New York.
“I have never regretted moving to the Batavia-Buffalo circuit, we love it here. My wife’s sister and mother live near us and when I’m on the road she has her family now instead of being up in New Jersey by herself. The New York Sires Stakes has been great for me as well as the overnight starts and we’re just gearing up for the next however-many years to come.”

In 2006 at Batavia Downs, Morrill set the all-time driving standard for the track with 177 wins and a UDR of .537 for one meet.

For his career to date, Jim Morrill Jr. now has had 37,332 starts with 6,902 wins, 5,692 seconds and 4,753 thirds with $100,046,554 in earnings.

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