August 19, 2016 – One of harness racing’s most popular drivers, Rick Zeron scored his 8,000th career driving victory Thursday night at Mohawk Racetrack.
Zeron, 59, entered the evening just a single win shy of the milestone. Driving three-year-old pacing filly Dixie Lullaby in the evening’s seventh-race, Zeron was able to get the filly up in the final strides for the milestone victory.
Nicknamed “The Whip”, Zeron has been a regular driver and trainer on the WEG Circuit for over two decades. The Oakville , Ontario resident has consistently posted impressive numbers throughout his career, including driving the winners of over $3 million in 14 of the last 16 seasons.
Zeron, who won his first race at Rideau Carleton Raceway in 1975, was the top driver in Quebec for many years before relocating to Ontario in 1995. His career best season for wins came in 1989, when he won 437 races and captured another Quebec driving title.
Zeron’s best season for earnings was recorded in 2006, when he drove the winners of over $7.7 million. Last season, he put together another solid campaign with 126 wins and earnings of nearly $3 million.
The past few weeks have been memorable for the Zeron’s, as Rick’s son, Scott, won the Hambletonian with Marion Marauder on August 6th. The father-son duo also teamed up to capture the U.S. Pacing Championship with Rick’s stable star Shamballa on the same day.
A model of consistency, Rick Zeron is on pace for another solid season with 71 victories and earnings of over $1.4 million. He currently ranks ninth in the WEG Drivers standings and sixth in the Trainers standings.
Thursday’s card also featured a number of high profile trotters, as they did battle in a set of OSS Gold Series divisions for three-year-old fillies plus the final of the Define The World Series for two-year-olds.
On the heels of her second-place finish in this year’s Hambletonian Oaks, Caprice Hillpowered to a 1:53.1 in her $105,000 OSS Gold Series division for the tandem of driver Randy Waples and trainer Tony Alagna. The daughter of Kadabra-Bramasole sat second through the opening quarter before marching to the top in the backstretch. She cleared and cut middle fractions of :57 and 1:26 before turning on the afterburners. A :27.1 closing quarter earned Caprice Hill the win by 2-1/4 lengths over Emoticon Hanover. Dottie was third.
Tom Hill of Hamilton, Ont. owns the 11-time winner who owns a 4-3-0 record from seven starts this season. The lion’s share of the loot lifted her lifetime earnings to $931,877.
Flowers N Songs was a popular winner, as well, in her $105,000 assignment for the team of driver Doug McNair and trainer Paul Reid. After getting away fourth, she held that position to the half before tipping into the flow and then making a three-wide move toward the lead at the three-quarter pole. With fractions of :26.3, :56 and 1:25.1 in front of her, the homebred powered home in :28.2 to win by four lengths over Tymal Tempest in 1:53.4. Major Muscle, who set the first three fractions, faded to finish third.
Paul Reid trains the daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe-Pleasures Song for owner/breeder Bob Key of Leechburg, PA. The filly has faced the gate 20 times this year, and she managed to produce an 8-6-1 record while banking over $325,000 along the way.
Seven And Seven, who captured the opening leg of the Defind The World Series before finishing second in leg two, powered home in :26.3 to capture the $36,000 final in 1:58.2 for trainer/driver Tom Durand.
The veteran horseman had the rookie positioned third for the majority of the mile before putting him into sprint mode around the final turn. AWOL Hanover and Jake took turns on the lead through first-half fractions of :30 and 1:01, but Seven And Seven showed a short lead while racing parked at the three-quarter pole in
1:32, and his blazing, final quarter speed helped him earn the half-length decision over Jake. Cant U Spell finished third.
Tom and June Durand bred and own the colt with partner Allan Smith. The group has watched the youngster put together a 2-1-0 record in his first four starts while banking $29,620 along the way.
(With files from WEG)