Bill Finley

Bill Finley has been covering both thoroughbred and standardbred racing for more than 25 years. He is a racing columnist for ESPN.com and can also be heard on the Down the Stretch show on Saturdays on Sirius XM radio.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014


Morrill Banned at Pocono, Has No Idea Why


There’s a reason why Jim Morrill Jr. has yet to drive a race this year at Pocono: he has been banned.

Morrill, who was the third leading driver last year at Pocono and is widely considered one of the very best in his profession, said he has heard no explanations from track management and the only way he
knows he is not welcome is because trainers have told him that every time they try to enter a horse with him down as the driver the racing office tells them they must choose someone else.

“I have no idea what’s going on there,” he said. “I just know they won’t accept any entries with me down to drive. I’ve been calling around to everyone there to try to get an answer and no one will call me back.

I’ve called (VP Racing Operations) Dale Rapson a bunch of times and left messages and I hear nothing back.”

Rapson did not respond to an email message from Harness Racing Update asking for information on Morrill’s status.

Morrill said he has asked attorney Howard Taylor to take up the case and see if he can’t get some answers from Pocono, but Taylor’s job won’t be an easy one. Privately owned racetracks are not required explain their decisions when ruling someone off.

“I like driving there and I give 150% every time I am out on the track,” he said. “I don’t know what this is all about. I know it can’t be anything major because I know I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t failed a Breathalyzer test, I haven’t fought with any racing officials. I didn’t fix any races, I didn’t drug any horses.

Since 2010 Morrill has had 588 winners at Pocono and has won at a 21 percent rate. Unable to drive at Pocono, Morrill has set up shop at the Meadowlands, where he is driving the Ron Burke horses while Yannick Gingras is participating at Yonkers in the Matchmaker and Levy. Morrill will also pick up plenty of business on the New York sire stakes circuit.

He says one of his primary concerns is to pick up enough drives this year to remain eligible for his pension.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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