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When harness racing driver Mike Merton drove Notimefordreaming to victory yesterday (April 23) at Monticello Raceway the veteran horseman moved ever closer to the 2000-career win plateau and now is just 24 wins away from a career milestone.

The pacer, owned by Skull and Roses Stable and trained by Frank Yanoti, toured the Mighty M oval in a time of 2:03.3 over an extremely muddy racetrack.

"It was tough going out there today with the rain coming down and the mud flying in your face made it was hard to see where you were going," Merton said after his victory.

When he was told that he is approaching 2000 wins he smiled and said: "I knew I was closing in on 2000 (wins) but I didn't realize that I'm as close as I am. Hey, I‘ll probably get it this year," he added with tongue in cheek.

If the past is any barometer, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, Merton will definitely reach 2000 wins, and it'll be sooner than later.

Already with 46 wins in the books -sixth best locally at this time-- the recently turned 40-year-old reinsman had 106 wins last season and 144 the previous year. Merton's biggest seasonal output came in 2005 when he drove 226 winners. And since 2000, Merton's name was always among the top ten on the local leaderboard.

Though he was born in Bayshore, NY, Merton grew-up in Monticello where the world there seemed to revolve around the racetrack, at least in the earlier years. And the lure of harness racing attracted a young Mike Merton. But that was easy to understand. His dad Bob Merton (Sr.) was a longtime horseman and his brothers Greg, Bobby Jr., Tommy and even sister Veronica, also became involved in the sport.

Younger brother Greg, who has been a two time Mighty M driving champion , has driven over 3330 winners and nothing has ever come between the close-knit brothers. In fact they even married sisters; and twins at that.

Besides his racing prowess Mike is also deeply involved in the local community and is even a volunteer fireman.