When Jim Marohn Jr. was a teenager, he worked on the backstretch at the Meadowlands and got to observe some of the sport’s top stables in action. These days, the 35-year-old Marohn is still working at the Big M, but is part of the action as one of the racetrack’s top drivers.
No one won more races at the Meadowlands in 2017 than Marohn, who had 109. He did not win the track’s driving title — captured by Brett Miller — because the meet ran from October 2016 to August 2017, but his 93 victories during that span resulted in a career-best third-place finish in the standings.
Since the conclusion of last year’s meet in August, and as of March 2, Marohn has won 53 races at the Meadowlands, which leads all drivers at the track. He has won races at a 18-percent clip.
“That’s where I grew up; I started working on horses right on that backstretch,” Marohn said. “I got to absorb a lot of different methods and work for a lot of good stables that were there. That was and is the mecca of harness racing. It’s very satisfying to go there and race at a high level.”
Marohn’s success in 2017 was not limited to the Meadowlands. He won a career-best 496 races overall and finished No. 10 among all drivers in North America. His $5.04 million in purses also were a lifetime best.
“I’ve never set any specific goals or numbers that I want to reach,” Marohn said. “I just take the opportunities as they come.
“I got to drive for a lot of good barns last year, and I think that’s what I was most satisfied about. Not really the wins or the earnings, but the bigger barns, not only giving me a chance, but sticking with me. That’s big. I appreciate that.”
Born on Long Island, Marohn grew up mostly in New Jersey and followed his father — the winner of 5,358 career races as a driver — into the sport. Marohn got his first win at the age of 20 in 2002 and has won driving titles at Tioga Downs and Monticello Raceway during his career.
In addition to his strong year at the Meadowlands, Marohn finished third in the driver standings at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where he notched career victory No. 4,000 in November, and had the fourth-most wins in 2017 at Freehold Raceway.
He enjoyed most of his stakes success in sire stakes races, but also picked up a handful of wins on the Grand Circuit. He is hoping for more opportunities in the future.
“If I could do a little work on the Grand Circuit it would be satisfying,” Marohn said. “If I could follow some young horses around and be competitive, that would be great. I’ve had some opportunities with horses here and there, but nothing extremely serious. I’ve never driven for a barn that had a group of those horses that I could go and race. I would love it. It’s always been a goal.
“But I’m going to do the same thing I did last year. I like the hustle. I try to be somewhere as much as I can. I take the opportunities where I can.”
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