Morgan wins career 16,000th at Dover Downs

Needing two wins to reach 16,000, Tony Morgan quickly responded by taking both ends of the Dover Downs daily double to attain his milestone on Wednesday. (Submitted photos/Dover Downs)

DOVER — It was a big day for Tony Morgan. Needing two wins to reach 16,000, Morgan quickly responded by taking both ends of the Dover Downs daily double to attain his milestone on Wednesday.

Morgan, who won four races, is only the second driver in harness racing history to drive 16,000 winners in a career, displaying a perfect drive behind Divas Image to win the $25,000 Mares Open by a nose. Dave Palone is the all-time leader with more than 18,000 wins.

Morgan started his momentous day driving owner-trainer Pippy Longstocking to victory in 1:56.1 to win the first race on the card. Then he guided Josh Parker and Nanticoke Racing’s Killean Finale home in 1:56.1 in the second race for his milestone victory.

In the $25,000 female feature, Morgan, driving Divas Image, escaped from racing fourth on the final turn to come on and take the passing lane to get up in 1:53.1 nosing out Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick) at the wire. Our Horse Cents, Stable 45 and J and Silva own the Bettors Delight-Rocknroll Diva five-year-old trained by Jenn Bongiorno ,. The winner of the last Open, she has won three of her last five and four of her last six with a pair of thirds in between. Sweet Bobble (Art Stafford Jr.) held on for third.

Celebrating in the winner’s circle with Tony Morgan, from left, are horsemen Tim Tetrick, Dylan Davis, Kim Vincent, Art Stafford and Corey Callahan.

Morgan finished the card with four wins. Tim Tetrick had three. Vic Kirby and Corey Callahan won two races each.

Palone passed the 18,000-win mark early in 2017. German driver Hans Wevering is third on the list with the late Herve Filion fourth.

From a career starting in his teens with his first drive coming at 13 at the Fairs, Morgan’s career has progressed to be ranked among the sports elite drivers. From racing in Kentucky and Midwestern tracks, he emerged as a top driver in the 1990s at Chicago-area racetracks.

Morgan has won the North American leading dash-win title five times, including three in consecutive seasons; 1995, 1996 and 1997. He also was the sport’s leading driver in 2006, with 1,004 wins, and in 2008, winning 961 races. He also was runner-up in 2002, 2005 and 2007, a year in which he won 880 races. Four times, in 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2006 seasons, Morgan won the prestigious Harness Tracks of America (HTA) Driver of the Year honor, a coveted award based on the number of wins, UDR percentage and purse money.

Tony Morgan joins Dover Downs director of publicity Marv Bachrad.

In 1996, while driving in Chicago, Morgan drove 852 winners to brake one-season record of 843 set by Walter Case Jr. Ten years later, during the 2006 campaign, Morgan became only the second driver in harness history to reach four figures in wins in one season, making the winner’s circle in 1,004 races.

During a 27-day stretch in January 2006, Morgan won a remarkable 101 races during the month. That season, Morgan destroyed the Dover Downs’ all-time one-season track record with 447 wins almost two hundred wins more than the previous mark. Morgan then went on to dominate the driving standings at Harrington Raceway that year, also setting a track record.

Morgan won his 15,000th races in March 2015. Hailing from a six-generation harness racing family. His dad, Eddie Morgan Jr., was a well know horseman in the Midwest. A cousin, Bob Styles, was a successful driver-trainer while racing in New England and in the Delaware Valley in the mid-20th century.

Morgan, 59, and is enjoying another top season currently at Dover Downs where he is in the top three in wining drives this season.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.