If Rick Zeron can craft a winning trip with Miss Paris in the $530,000 Elegantimage final on Saturday night at Mohawk, the end result will mean a trip to "The City of Light" for the harness racing veteran driver and his wife, Joyce.
“I want you to write this down,” said Zeron, who recorded his 7,500th lifetime win courtesy of Zeus Lightning in a $20,000 conditioned trot, going gate-to-wire with the five-year-old gelding in 1:53.4 for trainer Steve Charlton and owner Larocque Racing Stb Inc., on Monday evening at Mohawk. “If we win this race, I am taking Joyce to Paris. I’ve been to other places in Europe, but never to Paris. Wouldn’t it seem appropriate to celebrate by going there?”
Indeed it would.
Before he books flight and hotel arrangements, Zeron will have to guide the daughter ofto a win on Pepsi North America Cup night, against a talented field of three-year-old fillies that includes trotting titan Check Me Out, who boasts 16 wins from 19 starts.
Post nine certainly doesn’t help Zeron’s chances, but the reinsman exudes confidence when he speaks of Miss Paris.
“It’s certainly not ideal to have nine, but it doesn’t diminish my belief in what she’s capable of doing,” said Zeron, of the filly that won seven of 14 races in 2011, including two seconds and one third, for $486,656 in purse earnings. “It will be a case of hoping for a nice early flow, watching and waiting to see how things unfold and then hoping the flow continues.”
Zeron has faith Miss Paris can finish with a flourish, something the Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman trainee utilized in crossing the wire second in her elimination of the Elegantimage on June 8 at Mohawk.
She had qualified four times, from April 20 to May 26, before finishing fourth over a sloppy Mohawk strip in her return to racing in her Casual Breeze division on June 1, coming home in a final quarter of :27.2.
On June 8, Miss Paris, at 50-1, kicked home in :28.2, winding up 2 ¼ lengths behind Maven, who will also contest the final.
“I love the way she can fire when you ask her,” said Zeron, who was in the sulky for both the Casual Breeze and Elegantimage. “I just talk to her and she responds. I’m impressed at the way she’s competed in her last two starts after those four qualifiers. There are some good horses in here, definitely some tough competition, but I absolutely have faith in this filly.”
Miss Paris, who captured the $300,000 OSS Super Final last season in her final start of her harness racing freshman campaign, is owned is owned by Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David Mc Duffee.
Zeron would love to deliver them a victory in the rich final, slated as race three on the programme.
He’d also be happy to keep his pre-race promise.
“Absolutely,” said Zeron, who notched his first lifetime win in 1975 at Rideau Carleton Raceway with Oxford Mary. “I told Joyce we’re heading to Paris if we win this. Hopefully, we can get it done on Saturday.”
$530,000 Elegantimage Final:
PP – Horse – Listed Driver
1. On The Bright Side – D. Palone
2. Win Missy B – B. Sears
3. Check Me Out – T. Tetrick
4. Maven – Y. Gingras
5. Lovely Vacation – R. Waples
6. Sand Violent Blu – B. Miller
7. Superstar Hanover – J. Takter
8. Valdonna – R. Pierce
9. Miss Paris – R. Zeron
10. Personal Style – D. Miller
by Chris LOMON