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East Rutherford, N.J. - October of 2016 has been quite a month for harness racing driver Scott Zeron--first, a Trotting Triple Crown with Marion Marauder, and now his first ever Breeders Crown title. Zeron sustained a first-over push through the far turn with Call Me Queen Be ($27.80) to duel down Jugette winner L A Delight for a 1:49.4 score in the $500,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday (October 29) at The Meadowlands. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was forced to change tactics from a post 9 dispatch, settling into midfield on the first turn while Pure Country (Brett Miller) won a :27.2 first-quarter duel before yielding to L A Delight (John Campbell) midway up the far side. With just over half the journey remaining, Zeron moved Call Me Queen Be first-over and applied heavy pressure to L A Delight with three-eighths remaining. Of the new strategy, Zeron was pleased things worked out as well as they did. "I'm happy she was on her game tonight," he remarked. "That's not her style [going first-over], but things really worked out to her advantage, getting a soft third quarter and then just turn it into a sprint to leave [out] some of those horses that were following behind." While able to stick a head in front upon reaching head-stretch, Call Me Queen Be faced heavy resistance the length of the straight, forced to duel L A Delight through a :26 closing quarter to ultimately prevail by three-quarters of a length. Glen Garnsey Memorial winner Darlinonthebeach (David Miller) stayed on for third after directly tracking the winner's cover off the far turn. Ross Croghan trains Call Me Queen Be, now a 10-time winner, for the Let It Ride Stables and Mr. Dana Parham. by James Witherite, Meadowlands

It's been a great year for Rick and Scott Zeron and what would make it even better is winning a Breeders Crown race, something the father-and-son have yet to do in their illustrious harness racing careers. Rick Zeron, one of the sport's best all-around horsemen, has driven in 39 Breeders Crown races, his best finishes a couple of seconds with Armbro Rosebud in the 1997 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace and Soulful Hanover in the 2000 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot. Soulful Hanover also represented his best finish in 13 starts as a trainer. Scott has driven in 44 Breeders Crown races, his best result a second-place finish with Cee Bee Yes in the 2014 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot. If the racing gods are co-operative, the Zerons will celebrate their first Breeders Crown wins with Shamballa in the Open Pace in this year's event at the Meadowlands, a track which has been kind to both members of Team Zeron in 2016. Scott drove Shamballa to victory for his father in August in the U.S. Pacing Championship, upsetting a field that included the likes of Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki. Both are entered in the Open Pace. On the same card that he steered Shamballa to victory, Scott won the Hambletonian with Marion Marauder, who subsequently went on to sweep the Trotting Triple Crown. Scott will be driving Marion Marauder in the Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot. He also has several other drives in the two-day championship event. Rick said Shamballa has a shot considering he has drawn the two hole in the field of 10, the same starting position in which he won the U.S. Pacing Championship, after drawing the outside post in his last three races. "Miki has the four hole and Wiggle It has the seven hole, so you're going to have some outside flow moving and the rail horse leaves so I'm looking for good things," Rick said. "Scott is really happy with the draw and, cross our fingers, we'll see if we can get our picture taken with a Breeders Crown trophy on Friday. That would be an extra boost if we can get this done. It would be a great achievement for Team Zeron. I'd be ecstatic to win a Breeders Crown. I have no words to describe it. I'd have to wait until it happens and then I could give you the words. Right now we're in the Breeders Crown and we drew good and I'm looking for good things. "I thought I was going to win it with Soulful Hanover. I came from about ninth at the head of the lane and finished second by 1½ lengths, beaten by Aviano. It was the shot that I thought I was going to win, and I think we've got a shot this week, too." Shamballa, a six-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, has won four of 16 races this season and almost $400,000 for an ownership group that includes Rick. "I got him late when he was a four-year-old," Rick said. "I raced him late at five. I trained him like the Europeans train their trotters to have them strong at six, seven and eight. He's done everything that I've asked of him. We came up light in the Canadian Pacing Derby (finishing seventh by five lengths). He got a little bit sick on me. I kind of let some money go out the door there, but he's made close to $400,000 this year and I'm happy with that. We've got two more races this year - the Breeders Crown and the TVG - so hopefully we can get some money in there and get him over the $1 million mark." Rick was originally scheduled to drive Windsun Revenge in the Open Trot, but the ownership group of Van Camp Trotting Corp., Robert Van Camp and trainer Jeff Durham asked the patriarch if he would allow his son to drive. Scott had been listed to drive to Il Sogno Dream. "My son has a great head on his shoulders," Rick said. "He's very confident in himself. He prides himself in looking good all the time. He works out more than most 27-year-olds. He keeps himself in as good a shape as a horse trainer can keep a top horse in shape. He handles himself extremely well and he holds in his nerves in big races. He analyzes things extremely well. He knows when he's got a shot to put his horse into the race and he knows when he doesn't have that good of a shot to fall off the gate and try and get the owner as much money as he can. "He's learning every day, which I'm extremely happy about because a lot of young drivers stop learning because they think they know it all. My son learns every day." Scott left the Ontario circuit three years ago to race full-time in the U.S., in particular at the Meadowlands, and he's become one of the top-10 earners, currently sitting in the top-five this season with more than $7.5 million. "It all comes down to the Breeders Crown," Scott said. "I've been close a couple times. I've had very good chances to do it and have come up just short. To me it's not the same thing as the Hambletonian where you get one race once a year. We have 12 Breeders Crown races, so I have a good chance of doing it - a very difficult one, too. It's missing on the resume, but I'll get the Breeders Crown win sooner rather than later. "It would be gigantic to win with Shamballa. A lot of the fact is it's my Dad's horse and we have such a great relationship. The other element is you're battling the Goliaths every single time we get behind the gate in that division with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki. When I won the U.S. Pacing Championship, it was all the emotions of winning for my Dad and being a giant slayer. It's a big, big deal winning that division and the added incentive of winning it with my Dad." Scott is also excited about the prospect of winning with Marion Marauder, who would be in contention for Horse of the Year if the son of Muscle Hill won in the Breeders Crown. "I feel like there's a lot riding on this race in that respect," he said. "I want Horse of the Year just for the magnitude of the races he's won and what he's done. It's so hard to argue against Miki and Wiggle because they race 30 starts a year. They are in the box every week, racing non-stop in all their dances, whereas my horse will have 15 starts. It's so tough. I can't be the attraction that those horses are because they are always racing. "We pick our spots because we're only a three-year-old, but the magnitude and prestige of the races that my horse has won it's a big deal to get this last one." The complete field for the $421,000 Breeders Crown Pace is as follows: Race 7: post time 9:35 p.m. Post Position, Horse, Driver, Trainer, Morning Line 1 - Split the House - Brian Sears - Chris Oakes- 25-1 2 - Shamballa - Scott Zeron - Rick Zeron- 8-1 3 - Mach It So - Tim Tetrick - Jeff Bamond- 20-1 4 - Always B Miki - David Miller - Jimmy Takter-6/5 5 - Dealt a Winner - Andy Miller - Mark Silva-15-1 6 - All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke-15-1 7 - Wiggle It Jiggleit - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis-8/5 8 - Luck Be Withyou - Brett Miller - Chris Oakes-12-1 9 - Melmerby Beach - Yannick Gingras - Ettore Annunziata-40-1 10 - Americanprimetime - Andrew McCarthy - Rick Dane-40-1 By Perry Lefko for Breeders Crown

The Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile is behind us, and it was a classic. Whether you privilege the breathtaking speed embodied in Always B Miki’s 1:46 world record win in the Allerage Open or the historical significance of the triumph by Marion Marauder in the Kentucky Futurity that capped the first Triple Crown season in a decade, nobody can cite a lack of drama. As one might expect, Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere, the dominant forces at the Lexington Selected Sale that paralleled the meet, also rode roughshod over the competition on the track. Muscle Hill’s progeny won eight stakes races/eliminations, while SBSW’s get won 15 of the same. This is in addition to the success they had in the late closers that filled out the cards. Muscle Massive and Donato Hanover were second to Muscle Hill with four stakes wins each, while Art Major played second fiddle to SBSW, also with four. Appropriately enough, Marion Marauder, our new Trotting Triple Crown winner, is a son of Muscle Hill. He won for Scott Zeron and the extended Wellwood family. This was the young stallions first Kentucky Futurity credit.  The new speed king, Always B Miki, who won for David Miller and Jimmy Takter, is by the 12-year-old Indiana sire Always A Virgin, a successful regional stallion who has had limited exposure to the Grand Circuit. Miki broke the 1:46.4 race record shared by He’s Watching, Holborn Hanover, SBSW and Warrawee Needy as well as Cambest’s 23-year-old 1:46.1 time trial mark. Tim Tetrick won the most races at the meet: nine stakes and eight late closers. His most impressive win was Thursday’s 1:51.3 world record score by the impressive Chapter Seven freshman Walner for Linda Toscano and Ken Jacobs. This was only his fifth start, after taking two in the NYSS and a Kindergarten leg. He knocked a tick off of Southwind Frank’s 2015 mark. This colt is trending straight up. What Frank was to the 2015 meet, Walner was to this one. David Miller, who laid the foundation for his 2015 Driver of the Year award with a big closing day at last year’s Red Mile meet, may have done the same on Sunday with wins behind Darlinonthebeach in the Garnsey, Broadway Donna in the Filly Futurity and Always B Miki in the Allerage. Overall, he was second to Tetrick with seven stakes wins, in addition to scoring in a pair of late closers. Last year he sealed the deal with five wins on the Breeders Crown program at Woodbine two weeks after the Red Mile meet. Whether he recreates that feat at The Meadowlands this year or not, his numbers, in a season where he took the winter off, combined with the quality of his wins, make him the favorite to repeat as DOY. Andy Miller won five stakes, four of them for his wife Julie and one for Ross Croghan, as well as one late closer. Yannick Gingras also won five stakes, just as he did last year, but was blanked in the late closers this time. Corey Callahan, Brett Miller and Marcus Miller each had four stakes wins. The latter won three splits of the ISS on Saturday, all for his dad, with two of them, the SBSW filly Zane Hanover and the Art Major colt, Chip Walther, paying $189.80 and $84.80, respectively. Ake Svanstedt, Charlie Norris and Scott Zeron each had three stakes wins, with the latter also taking four late closers. Jimmy Takter topped all trainers with eight stakes wins, including that record mile by Always B Miki. Just as David Miller is primed to once again overcome Yannick’s earnings lead in the DOY contest, Takter may again overcome Ron Burke’s huge plurality in wins and money in the TOY race. Ron Burke had five stakes wins, including an upset in a Tattersalls split by the 20/1 Art Major colt, Stolen Glimpse, for Brian Sears. Last year Burke only won four of the high-dollar races, but he had eight second place finishes in them. On Sunday his Crazy Wow was second in the Allerage Open at 13/1, while Big Top Hanover was second in the Tattersalls Pace at 28/1. And Southwind Frank was nosed out by Marion Marauder in the Futurity. So the money was still rolling in. Julie Miller, Ake Svanstedt and Erv Miller each had four stakes wins, while Charlie Norris and Jim Campbell won three apiece. Tony Alagna, who had 5 stakes wins last year, including the Tattersalls Pace with Artspeak, had only 2 this time, although he did win 6 late closers. 54% of the stakes winners were bred in Pennsylvania, while 21% were from New York and 16% from New Jersey. Most of the latter are by Muscle Hill, who now stands in PA, and that must be taken into consideration. Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Ontario had one each, and one was by the French stallion, Love You. The Ontario SS Super Finals take place over the weekend so participation by that sector in Lexington is minimal. On the trotting side, there were eight for Muscle Hill, four each for Donato Hanover and Muscle Massive, three each for Cantab Hall and Credit winner, two for Andover Hall and the rest with one apiece. In 2015 Cantab Hall had 5 wins to 3 for Muscle Hill. As was the case this year three-quarters of the trot wins went to PA stallions. Somebeachsomewhere’s domination was more extreme than that of Muscle Hill. His progeny won 15 high-dollar stakes to four for Art Major and one each for all the rest. That amounts to a ridiculous 55% win rate for the 11-year-old son of Mach Three. This served as a marked contrast to last year when SBSW’s get had only three wins and New York pacing stallions dominated Pennsylvania by an 11 to 6 margin. American Ideal had no stakes credits this year, after accumulating four in 2015. Lots of juicy payoffs, aside from the pair from Marcus Miller and one from Sears/Burke already mentioned. The Crazed colt Shake It Off Lindy paid $29.60 for Tetrick and Antonacci in a Bluegrass split; the Yankee Glide filly Overdraft Volo paid $49.20 in another Bluegrass split for Andy and Julie Miller; the RNR Heaven colt Rock The Boat paid $38.20 in a Bluegrass division; the Credit Winner filly Bankette paid $73.60 for David Miller in a LC; the Donato filly Temple Ruins paid $30.60 in an ISS split for Brian Sears; and Gingras’ Cantab Hall filly Dancing IN The Hall paid $98.60 in a Filly Futurity elimination…. The most interesting winner was the Florida bred sophomore filly pacer Prairie Sweetheart, who was supplemented to the Allerage Mare and smoked her more accomplished foes in 1:49.1 for Matt Kakaley and Ross Croghan. Her sire, Royal Millennium, is an obscure 17-year-old son of Run The Table, whose granddam is a full sister to the great Sonsam. Prairie Sweetheart has won all 12 lifetime starts. There were some short fields, the Allerage Mare Trot had to be cancelled due to a lack of entries, and there was some wind and rain to contend with, but on the whole the record setting numbers at the sale were mirrored by some of the same on the track. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/.  Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

The 124th Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile today was won by Marion Marauder who takes harness racing's Trotting Triple Crown. The time was 28.1  -  56.2  -  1:25.1  -  1:52.3   LEXINGTON, KY— In a stretch drive reminiscent of the Hambletonian, Marion Marauder lunged at Southwind Frank towards the center of the track to narrowly win the 124th running of the $431,000 Kentucky Futurity in 1:52.3, becoming the ninth horse to complete the Trotting Triple Crown.   Marion Marauder was wide for the entirety of the mile, managing to get cover from Bar Hopping while Blenheim trotted to the lead in :28.1. Love Matters was flushed first over heading to the half, carrying Southwind Frank and Bar Hopping on his back through a :56.2 half.   Love Matters engaged with Blenheim around the far turn. Southwind Frank began to edge three wide from second over, while Bar Hopping fanned wider of him and Marion Marauder wider of Bar Hopping. Blenheim held a narrow lead as a wall of horses stampeded towards him through a 1:25.1 third-quarter.   Southwind Frank swung to the lead in the stretch. Bar Hopping was moving down the center of the track, with Marion Marauder alongside. Marion Marauder accelerated by Bar Hopping and was trying to outsprint Southwind Frank towards the inside. The two had their noses extended heading to the line, with Marion Marauder inching to victory.   Winning his 11th race in 26 starts this season, Marion Marauder, by Muscle Hill out of the Donerail mare Spellbound Hanover, has compiled $1,755,268 for owners Devin Keeling and Marion Wellwood. Trained by Paula Wellwood and driven by Scott Zeron, he paid $9.20 to win.   “I had to had to have no game plan going into that race,” Scott Zeron said. “I had no clue what was going to happen; earlier there was a twelve-horse field and the eleven and twelve got away eleventh and twelfth. I wasn’t too optimistic, but the way it unfolded and Bar Hopping really pushed to get away up close, I just glued my horse to his helmet. We were able to get [Southwind] Frank out and it was a perfect train.   “I just had my eyes on Yannick’s and Timmy’s horses. I didn’t want to make a move too quick because I knew we’d be sprinting really hard down the lane. I was confident down the lane when I moved him over; probably watching the race, you might not have been as confident, but he dropped his head about two feet and just dug right through the wire. I was very confident he got up, but nobody else was, so thank God he got up. He was amazing.”   “All I can say is that my grandma was with me, the co-owner,” Devin Keeling said. “I’m just thinking about her right now.”   Marion Marauder wasn’t eligible to race in the Kentucky Futurity. However, after finishing second in the $522,120 Canadian Trotting Classic, his connections supplemented him for $47,261.   “I was a little leery [of supplementing him],” Paula Wellwood said. “But he showed after the Canadian Trotting Classic that he wanted to race, so we brought him.”   “It was the only way to go after he showed us how sharp he was with a week off,” Mike Keeling, who also trains Marion Marauder, said. “It has just been a tremendous year with a tremendous group of horses. I think we gave the fans a lot of thrills.”   Marion Marauder is the first winner of the Trotting Triple Crown since Glidemaster in 2006. He won the Hambletonian by a nose, the Yonkers Trot by a head, and the Kentucky Futurity by a nose.   “They don’t write down on the check how much you beat them by,” Mike Keeling said.    By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile  

LEXINGTON, KY-- Supplementing to the Kentucky Futurity for $47,621, Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot-winner Marion Marauder will attempt to be the ninth champion to claim the Trotting Triple Crown amid a stakes-packed harness racing card to close out the Grand Circuit meeting at The Red Mile on Sunday, October 9. The draw for the 124th Kentucky Futurity was conducted during The Red Mile's Thursday afternoon program. A field of 12 is slated to go in a single dash for $431,000, carded as race 12 on a 14-race program. Marion Marauder, by Muscle Hill out of the Donerail mare Spellbound Hanover, drew post 11.   "It's not [a great draw], but it should be a great race for the fans," Scott Zeron, Marion Marauder's driver, said. "I hope I can drive a nice race and have a little luck. I think I have the horse that can win it, I just have to make sure I drive him that way."   "I would trade places with literally anyone else," Zeron said jokingly on the draw. "[Jimmy] Takter's [has the] one, two, and twelve, so not only am I boxed in at the beginning but I'm boxed in by the Takter crew, too. It's going to take some nifty-stick handling."   A winner of 10 in 25 starts and $1,539,768 for owners Marion Wellwood and Devin Keeling, Marion Marauder is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Southwind Frank, who bested Marion Marauder through most of last season and recently in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, is the 3-1 second choice. Bar Hopping, beating Marion Marauder in the $522,120 Canadian Trotting Classic and winning recently an $81,250 Bluegrass division, is 4-1, and Sutton off a 1:52 win in an $82,250 Bluegrass division is 6-1.   The Kentucky Filly Futurity goes as two heats, with two eliminations set for the first heat. Heat two will go for $218,400 and is the final race on the program.   Broadway Donna goes for redemption after breaking in a $62,400 Bluegrass split as the 1-5 favorite. Owned by Fashion Farms LLC and trained by Jim Campbell, the Donato Hanover filly, out of the Broadway Hall mare Broadway Schooner, Broadway Donna starts from post one. She has won 12 of 18 starts, earning $800,894.   Ginny Weasley, the Andover Hall filly out of the Donerail mare Donepunk who won a Bluegrass split in 1:53.1, neighbors Broadway Donna from post two. Ake Svanstedt trains the winner of six races in 19 starts, earning $128,563 for owner Torp Trotting Inc.   Celebrity Eventsy will try to rebound in the second elimination. Finishing fifth as the 2-5 favorite in a $62,400 Bluegrass division, trainer Staffan Lind sends the daughter of Manofmanymissions, from the American Winner mare Little Ms Queenie, from post four for owner Celebrity Farms. A winner of eight in 22 starts, she has earned $456,803 in her career.   She competes against Side Bet Hanover, by Donato Hanover out of the Muscles Yankee mare Sea Level Hanover, starting from post three. Jonas Czernyson trains for owner Srf Stable. Winning five of 18 starts in her career, she has compiled $175,336 in earnings.   Pacing fillies will congregate for two divisions of the $213,500 Glen Garnsey Memorial.   Off a second-place finish to Darlinonthebeach as the 4-5 favorite in 1:50.2, Pure Country races in the first division. The Jimmy Takter-trained daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, out of the Western Hanover mare Western Montana, has won 17 of 27 starts and earned $1,596,948 for owner Diamond Creek Racing. She races from post six.   Darlinonthebeach, by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Bettor's Delight mare Darlin's Delight, races from post seven in the second division for trainer Nancy Johansson. A winner of 11 in 27 starts, she has earned $776,823 for owner White Birch Farm.   From post one, Blue Moon Stride enters the second division off a 1:50.1 win in a $73,000 Bluegrass split. The filly by Rocknroll Hanover, out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Classic Star, has won 10 of 26 starts, earning $658,886 for owners Emilio & Maria Rosati. She has finished third to Darlinonthebeach in both the $94,675 Shady Daisy and the $350,000 Valley Forge.   Sophomore pacing colts and geldings were divided into two divisions for the $416,000 Tattersalls Pace.   Division one draws Check Six, Western Fame, and Lindy Beach, all of whom are entering off wins in the Bluegrass. Check Six, by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Artsplace mare Southwind Vanna, won his $57,300 Bluegrass division in 1:50 as the even-money favorite. Winning 12 of 26 starts, he has earned $903,804 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, William Switala & Joe Martin. Trainer Ron Burke sends him from post six.   Western Fame, winning a $58,300 Bluegrass division as the 2-5 favorite in 1:50.3, starts from post seven. Trained by Jimmy Takter, the colt by Western Ideal, from the Artiscape mare Shyaway, has won five of 22 starts, earning $316,156 for owner Brittany Farms.   Trying for his fifth-straight win this season, Lindy Beach, off a 1:50.3 win in the Bluegrass, races from post nine. By Somebeachsomewhere out of the Real Desire mare Real Appealing, he has won four of 13 starts, earning $64,912 for owners Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Frank Baldassare and trainer Frank Antonacci.   Racing Hill, after scratching from the $276,960 Little Brown Jug, headlines the second division from post seven. Trained by Tony Alagna, the colt by Roll With Joe, from the American Ideal mare Chasing Ideals, finished third in the first heat of the Little Brown Jug in a 1:50.1 mile. With wins in the $500,000 Messenger Pace and $400,000 Adios Pace, he has 10 victories to his credit in 22 starts, earning $1,358,876 for owner Tom Hill.   Tony Alagna also trains American Passport, by American Ideal out of the Four Starzzz Shark mare Star Of The Show. He draws post two after nearly going wire to wire in his Bluegrass split, instead finishing second by three-quarters of a length to Check Six. A winner of five in 25 starts, he has earned $298,016 for owners Brittany Farms, Riverview Racing, Alagna Racing, and Jody Siamis.   The aged racing divisions will also compete in their respective splits of the Allerage Farms stakes.   Older pacing fillies and mares will contest in the $100,000 Allerage Farms Stakes. Division speedster Lady Shadow races from post two off a 1:50 win in the $236,360 Milton Stakes. The mare by Shadow Play, out of the Camluck mare Lady Camella, has won 25 of 51 starts, earning $1,354,042 for owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold and the Bfj Stable.   The $101,000 Allerage Farms Open Trot attracts Obrigado as he readies for the $1,000,000 International Trot at Yonkers Raceway. Recently winning the $160,00 Dayton Trotting Derby in 1:53.2, Obrigado will start from post three. Trained by Paul Kelley, the gelding by Boy Band, from the Malabar Man mare Malimony, has won 40 of 76 starts, amassing $1,362,019 in earnings for owners Paul Kelley Racing Stable, Srf Stable, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45.   With the announcement that Always B Miki will stand at Diamond Creek Farms in 2017, the all-time world record could be at stake in the $138,000 Allerage Open Pace. By Always A Virgin out of the Artsplace mare Artstopper, Always B Miki, a winner of 26 in 49 starts, has dazzled across the country all season and has demonstrated a talented amount of speed. With a mark of 1:47 at Pocono Downs taken in both the elimination and final of the Ben Franklin and then equaled in the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial, Always B Miki has earned $2,227,368 for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. The five-year-old will start from post three.   Post time for the final day of the Grand Circuit fortnight at The Red Mile is set for 1:00pm.   By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

In four days Scott Zeron will attempt to become the youngest driver to win a harness racing Triple Crown, for either trotters or pacers. Throw in the fact his horse's owners are paying a hefty supplemental fee of around $50,000, and that could make for a lot of pressure as Zeron gets set to drive Marion Marauder in the Kentucky Futurity at Lexington's Red Mile on Sunday (Oct. 9). But a laidback, understanding group -- consisting of trainers Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling and owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling -- have made things easy for the 27-year-old Canadian since this journey started at the Hambletonian and continued with the Yonkers Trot. "They're not hanging over me going, 'This is the end all, be all, we want this,'" Zeron said. "Heading into the Hambo they told me, 'It's a long year, we've got a lot of races to race,' and not saying, 'Listen, this Hambletonian is all we want, it's all we care about.' That would make it pressure filled. They just want the horse to race well. "(Pressure) varies for every horse and every trainer. The connections I'm driving for are just the nicest, greatest, most appreciative people you could ever drive for. I know that they're confident in me, without a doubt, and I'm confident in my horse. I really think it hasn't been a pressure filled year." It has been nothing but an enjoyable year. Having a horse as talented as Marion Marauder also helps calm the nerves. "This is the kind of horse that both the connections and myself have never been able to be a part of, so it's all taken in stride," Zeron continued. "The nerves would be different if I had a horse that broke every other week, things like that. But this horse is a true gentleman and the connections are just a pleasure to drive for." The last Trotting Triple Crown winner was Glidemaster in 2006. He became the eighth horse to sweep the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. Marion Marauder won the Hambletonian in August and Yonkers Trot in September. Since then, his connections hedged on attending the Kentucky Futurity, with the original plan to skip the event. Ironically, it was after Marion Marauder was beaten by Bar Hopping at the Canadian Trotting Classic in his most recent start that thoughts began to differ. Mike Keeling had wanted to hit the Red Mile all along, and he finally convinced the rest of the group it was the right thing. "As far as I know, right after the Canadian Trotting Classic, they didn't want to have a five-week break until the Breeders Crown elimination; it was just a little too long," Zeron said. "We went over the list of who we felt could be going to the Futurity, and the rule is that if there's 12 they go straight to the finals." The draw is not until Thursday, so it will not be known until then whether there is just one race. If not, the eliminations and final will both be contested Sunday. "I think for them it was a matter of praying we don't go two heats, only in the best interest of the horse not having to go two heats twice in the year," Zeron said. "And I think, if you ask them, it was a case of Marion feeling really well the last two weeks, and they just wanted to race him." Zeron admitted he would have been disappointed, but understanding, about losing his shot at history. "For sure, but I would have supported whatever decision they made," he said. "The Breeders Crown is another one I haven't won. If we go straight to the final, the plan will work out brilliantly." Marion Marauder has won nine of 12 races this year and earned $1.25 million. His victories include the Hambletonian, which also contested eliminations and the final on the same day, Yonkers Trot, Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. He finished second in the Canadian Trotting Classic and Colonial. The driver admitted he could never script a season like this. "When things are going right, they're just going right," said Zeron, who has been the horse's lone driver since the middle of his 2-year-old season. "If you really break it down, Marion has been a phenomenal animal for me. "Those two major critical (Triple Crown) stakes we had coming into the Futurity, we won by a nose and a head. The roles could have been reversed either way. I'm grateful to just have a horse like him to take me on this kind of trip. He's a pleasure to drive. He makes me confident when I'm out there with him. I just have to put him in a spot to have a chance to win the race. That's really my only job, he does the rest." Marion Marauder is coming off a three-week layoff since losing the Canadian Trotting Classic and Zeron feels it was a necessary respite after an extremely busy schedule. "He was coming off a stretch of (racing) five consecutive weeks," Scott noted. "All the races prior to that, he had layoffs. He had three weeks between the Stanley Dancer and the Hambo. He's always had nice comfortable breaks except for those five weeks straight. By the end of it they just wanted to assess the way he came out of the Trotting Classic, and I think he's been more than feeling well which is why they made the decision to come to Kentucky." Zeron, who has finished second in the Futurity twice, would supplant Trond Smedshammer as the youngest driver of a Trotting Triple Crown winner. Smedshammer was 37 when he trained and drove Windsong's Legacy to the Triple Crown in 2004. On the pacing side, George Sholty was 33 when he guided Romeo Hanover to complete the Pacing Triple Crown in 1966. William Myer drove Romeo Hanover in the Cane Pace with Sholty winning the Little Brown Jug and Messenger. Although seeking his first Futurity win, Zeron has won the Tattersalls so he has had some success in big 3-year-old races at the Red Mile. He is already the youngest driver to win the Little Brown Jug (with Michael's Power in 2012) and the second youngest to win the Hambletonian. As a Canadian, he still yearns to win the Canadian Trotting Classic, but a win on Sunday would take away the sting of that setback. "It would take ALL of the pain away from that, no doubt," Zeron said. "I would forget about the Trotting Classic by winning the Futurity and getting that Triple Crown." The list of drivers to be part of a Trotting Triple Crown-winning campaign includes Hall of Famers Joe O'Brien, Ralph Baldwin, John Simpson Sr., Stanley Dancer (twice), Howard Beissinger, and Campbell. To join that list at all would be impressive. To be the youngest man on it makes it even more notable. "It's a big deal for me," Zeron said. "I'm here for the whole Grand Circuit two weeks. It all leads up to that last day. I'm excited about it, I'm confident my horse can do it. "It's a lot for a horse to do. But hopefully we draw well, hopefully I drive well and the horse is on his game." One thing that's not on is the pressure. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Harness racing owner Bob Tambur enjoys watching his horses compete, but even more than that he delights in simply watching them grow up. "I just have a love for raising these horses; I get a big kick out of it," said Tambur, a northeast Pennsylvania resident whose homebred Boogie Shuffle races out of the training stable of Mark Harder in Saturday's first of five Bluegrass Stakes divisions for 2-year-old male pacers at Lexington's Red Mile. "I tell Mark all the time, I get as big a kick out of breeding these horses as I do watching them race. I get a kick out of seeing how they turn out. It's more special when they do well, but I'm just so happy to be competitive." Boogie Shuffle has been competitive for Tambur's Fox Hollow Farm, with a total of six on-the-board finishes in eight starts and earnings of $72,633. He has one win and four second-place finishes, with three of the runner-up efforts coming on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit to Huntsville, Downbytheseaside, and Fear The Dragon. Huntsville went on to win the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, with Downbytheseaside second and Fear The Dragon third. Those three horses also are among the four fastest 2-year-old male pacers of the season; the other is Ocean Colony. Boogie Shuffle and driver Scott Zeron will see Huntsville, Fear The Dragon, and Ocean Colony in their seven-horse Bluegrass division Saturday. Huntsville, from the Ray Schnittker Stable, is the 2-1 morning line favorite while Boogie Shuffle is 6-1. The division features five horses with at least $69,000 in purses; no other division has more than two. "If you want to be a top horse you've got to race with the top horses," Tambur said about Boogie Shuffle's difficult draw. "There are no breathers, not in today's world. I'd like to win them all, but that's not how it goes." Tambur, whose business ventures include a financial company and real estate development, got started in harness racing a little more than 20 years ago and enjoyed success in the mid-1990s with stakes-winning female pacer Sweetgeorgiabrown. Other notable horses have included stakes-winner Sutter Hanover (in partnership) and hard-knocking homebred Bullet Bob, who has earned $359,095. Boogie Shuffle is a son of stallion Well Said out of Tambur's mare Ciela Hanover. Boogie Shuffle's 3-year-old full brother Senator Charlie has earned $77,690 for Fox Hollow Farm and a Well Said-Ciela Hanover yearling named Kaboom Pow will soon start preparing for his racing career. Ciela Hanover this year produced a Sweet Lou-sired filly named Sweet Anna Banana. "I have high hopes for the two on the ground, the filly and the colt," Tambur said. "The brother to Boogie is bigger at this stage. He's a good-looking colt. We hope he does well. We hope he's got the speed and the desire Boogie has. It's all about the heart." Tambur thought highly of Boogie Shuffle from the time he was born. "I saw that horse an hour after he was born and he was standing up and he was so correct," Tambur said. "From day one, he looked fabulous; from hour one. I always felt because of how correct he was that he was going to be a well-gaited horse." Boogie Shuffle heads to the Bluegrass off a fourth-place finish in a division of the Liberty Bell Series in which he encountered traffic trouble in the stretch. The colt's remaining stakes schedule includes the International Stallion, Breeders Crown, and Matron. "We're hopeful, but we know the competition is keen," Tambur said. "He is getting stronger and he's grown a little bit. We just hope he continues to get faster and get better. He's got a good motor, and he's got a good heart, so we'll see what happens. Hopefully he continues to do well." The favorites in the remaining four Bluegrass divisions for 2-year-old male pacers are, in race order, Erv Miller's R J P, Jimmy Takter's Blood Line, Brian Brown's Downbytheseaside, and Ron Burke's Miso Fast. There also are four divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers, headlined by Takter's She's A Great Lady champion Idyllic Beach. For Saturday's complete card, click here. Ken Weingartner  

It's a very old story that happily never gets old. A young native Canadian harness racing driver garners both wins and accolades at his local raceways with such frequency that he's tagged as a prodigy. He then travels southbound on the Adirondack Northway to ply his trade at the big time ovals in the states. Faced with stiff competition from entrenched veteran horsemen, the prodigy doesn't wilt; rather, he just gets better. On September 15, 27 year old Montreal native Scott Zeron notched his 3,000th driving win at Yonkers Raceway. The achievement marks a career milestone for Zeron during what is clearly a career year. The winner of this year's Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot (Marion Marauder), Scott currently sits fifth on the 2016 earnings' board. The youngest Canadian driver to achieve 1,000 wins, Scott became the youngest driver in history to reach 2,000 wins. The 2012 Rising Star Award winner, Scott is also the youngest driver ever to win the Little Brown Jug (Michael's Power, 2012). The Standardbred Owners Association of New York is proud that Scott earned his milestone victory at the Hilltop Oval, and even prouder that he is a regular part of our deeply talented drivers' colony. Scott has achieved big things in a short time, and we wish him years of future success. Standardbred Owners Association of New York

Delaware, Ohio - L A Delight and John Campbell in the sulky used a perfect pocket trip to win the $239,400 46th Jugette at the Delaware County Fair on Wednesday. First heat winner Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron) used his rail position to take the early lead. A leaving attempt by Blue Moon Stride (Andrew McCarthy) was thwarted by a break in stride allowing L A Delight into the two-hole and Pure Country (Brett Miller) into third. The top trio raced without further movement through the quarters of :27 1/5, :56 2/5 and 1:25. Campbell eased the winner off the rail in the final turn and edged past the pacesetting Call Me Queen Be by ¾ length in 1:51.3. Yankee Moonshine (Yannick Gingras) rallied for third and Pure Country (Brett Miller) held on for fourth. Robert McIntosh Stables, CSX Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings own the homebred daughter of Bettor's Delight, who earned $98,578 for her efforts. John Campbell hoisted the Jugette trophy for a record fifth time and trainer Bob McIntosh won for record tying third time. Campbell and McIntosh teamed up with So Fresh to capture the 1992 Jugette. World record set in first heat of Jugette In the $95,760 first heat, Call Me Queen Be grabbed the racetrack and took the lead before the field hit the first turn. Yankee Moonshine protected his rail position and sat second at the quarter in :26 4/5. Second tier starter Pure Country was the first to challenge the leader and was parked second at the half in :55. As the field headed to the ¾ mile pole, Scott Zeron asked his horse for more and she responded by opening drawing away from Pure Country. Using a :27 1/5 last quarter, Call Me Queen Be won by 4½ lengths over L A Delight and Pure Country in a world record record clocking of 1:50.1. Ella Christina Takes 2FP Standardbred David Miller guided Ella Christina to a narrow neck win over Caviart Cherie (Andrew McCarthy) and Kim's Desire (Yannick Gingras) in lifetime best 1:54 3/5. Miller sent the daughter of Western Ideal after the early lead and was allowed to control the field of eight through fractions of :27 4/5, :57 4/5 and 1:26 1/5. Pittstop Danika (Matt Kakaley) tried to pressure the winner but could not get past the leader and her :28 2/5 last quarter. Ella Christina is owned and trained by Nancy Johansson. Miss Tezsla Takes Buckette Miss Tezsla (Brett Miller) came off the rail at the three quarter pole and wore down the pacesetting Haughty III (Peter Wrenn) to win the $86,200 Buckette for three-year-old filly trotters in 1:55 1/5. Haughty III held on for second and Ultimate Shopper (Tim Tetrick) closed for third. Jimmy Takter trains the Andover Hall filly for the Miss Tezsla Stable. Ohio Breds In Action Uncle Leroy (Mike Wilder) took the lead just before the quarter mile pole and pulled away from his competitors to win the first division of the $96,300 (div.) Ohio Breeders Championships for sophomore colt trotters. The Neely Dunn gelding was a half length clear of Deep Question (David Miller) and Chips So Fast (Aaron Merriman) in 1:55 3/5. Uncle Leroy is owned by Cheryl Vigneron and trained by Charles Vigneron. The Ohio Sire Stake champion, Wegoferdaprize (Chris Page) took the second division in 1:56 2/5. The Next Triumph (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) and MJB Got Faith (Kayne Kauffman) and the eventual winner all battled for the lead in the final turn and late breaks in stride by The Next Triumph and MJB Got Faith sealed the victory for the And Away We Go gelding. The 3 1/2 length score was his eight win in a row for Curran Racing and trainer Jessica Millner. The final division was won by Lets Go Bucks (Dan Noble). The partisan crowd cheered the And Away We Go gelding to a 6 1/2 length victory over Roundtown Rocker (Peter Wrenn) and Speedy Translation (Kurt Sugg) in 1:54 4/5. Jim Dailey trains Lets Go Bucks for Jim S. Burnett and Tim S. Homan. The two divisions of the $114,440 (div.) two-year-old filly trot went to Let's Get Started (Josh Sutton) and Chim Swift (David Miller). Let's Get Stated scored a 1 1/4 length victory over Rose Run Sydney (Ryan Holton) in a stakes record 1:57.4. In the second division, Chim Swift overcame the outside post #8 and defeated Renee Lu (Yannick Gingras) in 1:58. by Jay Wolf, for the Delaware County Fair      

YONKERS, NY, Monday, September 19, 2016 - Harness racing driver driver Scott Zeron, who reached the 3,000-win milestone this past Thursday night, was duly recognized by the site of that plateau, Yonkers Raceway. Zeron, who hadn't driven here since that evening, received the obligatory sign after Monday night's first race. His case of complimentary assorted teas has also been ordered. "I appreciate the recognition," Zeron said. "Now, it's time to go back to work." Zeron began the evening with 3,001 victories and $48.7 million in career purses. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, September 15, 2016- Harness racing driver Scott Zeron, who has made himself right at home on both sides of the river since crossing the border, won his 3,000th career race Thursday night. The plateau win came escorting Rock Absorber ($7) up the passing lane in the $14,000, third-race pace (1:54.2). The affable 27-year-old Zeron, a native of Montreal whose career began in 2007, is approaching $49 million in career purses. He is, of course, 'enjoying the ride' with Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot winner Marion Marauder, the early favorite in Saturday night's Canadian Trotting Classic (Mohawk). "I really just appreciate everyone who's shown confidence in me," Zeron said. "It's amazing what Marion Marauder has done for my career. Harness people from all over the world know all about those two races (Hambletonian and Yonkers Trot), and to say that I've won them both is such an honor." Frank Drucker  

As Hambletonian winner Marion Marauder prepares for Saturday's (Sept. 3) $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters at Yonkers Raceway -- the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown -- harness racing trainer Paula Wellwood feels the horse is set in his ways. That's great when it comes to being on the track, as Marion Marauder has won seven of nine starts this season, including this past Saturday's Yonkers Trot elimination in his small-track debut. "He just been his normal self," Wellwood said. "He came into the race good and was well in hand the other night. He's sharp, he's healthy, he's happy. There's really no change in him. He's the same horse, and you don't want any changes. He just stays the same every day." In the stable, however, it can lead to a few issues. "He's a very smart horse and he figures things out pretty quick," the Canadian trainer said. "If something's not right he lets you know immediately. One day I mixed his food wrong and he just spit it out like a kid who would spit his food out back at you! "I was trying to stand in there, I went to put the tub in and he just looked at me, and he went 'Bleaaahh!' all over my hand, literally like a kid spitting out something they don't like. I threw it out, changed it and he ate everything." Wellwood, who trains Marion Marauder with her husband Mike Keeling, is not about to upset the routine. If Marion Marauder wants to be pampered a little more, so be it. "The only thing I can say is different is maybe the horse is a little more spoiled," Wellwood said. "He likes what he does, he really has a set routine and he seems to be thriving on it more than anything. It's just a little bit of attitude he's got, like 'Don't screw this up.' "He kind of acts up a little bit at times. He's a little more pushy and he probably should be put more in line, but I don't do that. He deserves whatever he wants to do. He's so set in his routine, he has a solid routine and it just seems to be agreeing with him." Wellwood is unsure if Marion Marauder is aware of just what he has accomplished this year, especially winning the Hambletonian. That being said, he has gotten an attitude boost from his feats this season. The colt, owned by family members Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling, has earned $874,905 this year with his other victories including the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. "He's pretty confident in himself, I will say that," Wellwood said. "I don't know if he knows or not, but it seems like the more big races he wins, he seems a little more pushy. He's got lots of confidence too. He's brimming with it, which happens. That happens with human athletes, they just get more and more confident and that's kind of what he's like." Driver Scott Zeron has been confident in Marion Marauder throughout the season and has not been afraid to share that confidence publicly when entering a race. Wellwood takes the opposite tact. Despite the fact she "couldn't be more pleased," with Marion Marauder drawing the No. 4 post Saturday, the trainer isn't about to handicap the race. "I leave that totally up to Scott," she said. "I don't like to predict how it will go. I'm kind of superstitious that way." She will say, however, that the horse is racing as well as he has all year. "He's so professional now," Wellwood said. "Scott says you can do anything with him. Whatever he asks him to do he does. So I think he's just more adept. In the race he's very focused and he takes it serious and wants to do the best he can. That's how I would describe him." An interesting sidebar to this race is that if Marion Marauder wins he is not staked to the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Futurity at Lexington's Red Mile. To do so, the horse's owners would have to pay a substantial supplement fee. Will it happen? "It's probably doubtful, and we'd have no regrets," Wellwood said. "We mapped out a schedule and we don't usually take them to Lexington to race. Things could always change but I would have to say we're just going to stick with our main plan. He goes back to Canada after this and then he's off to the Breeders Crown, so he has a big break, which I feel is a well-deserved break." And while Wellwood is not completely ruling out the Futurity, her overall concern is for Marion Marauder's well-being. "It's all about whatever is good for the horse," she said. "That comes absolutely first. We're not going to say never, but he's still got hurdles to overcome. So you don't know. You can never predict anything." Following is the field for the Yonkers Trot. $500,000 Yonkers Trot 3-year-old male trotters Race 8/Post 9:30 p.m. (EDT) PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line 1. Iron Mine Bucky - Explosive Matter - George Dennis-Greg Haverstick-12/1 2. Celebrity Express - Andover Hall - John Campbell-Staffan Lind-20/1 3. Smalltownthrowdown - Cash Hall - Dan Daley-Dan Daley-7/2 4. Marion Marauder - Muscle Hill - Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-1/1 5. Lagerfeld - Yankee Glide - Mark MacDonald-Jimmy Takter-7/1 6. Steed - Muscle Hill - Brian Sears-Richard Johnson-20/1 7. Hititoutofthepark - Yankee Glide - Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-20/1 8. Cufflink Hanover - Andover Hall - Jason Bartlett-Chris Oakes-7/1 Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, August 27, 2016 - Hambletonian winner Marion Marauder and harness racing driver Scott Zeron made short work of his small-track debut, winning Saturday night's lone $40,000 elimination for the 62nd Yonkers Trot. "Marion," starting from post position No. 3 in a Yonkers Raceway game of musical chairs (nine to eliminate one), took things in his own hooves early. The 3-10 choice moved past first leader Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Daley), then had few issues (:29.2, :58.4, 1:28.1, 1:56.2). The margin was a length-and-quarter over "Smalltown," with Iron Mine Bucky (George Dennis) a drifting, three-hole third. The real fun came in the back of the bus, when the second-tier Gleaming Memory (Ake Svanstedt) made an ugly break that directly wiped out Lagerfeld (Mark MacDonald), while any number of the trailers also broke, were impeded or were just plain outrun. Steed (Brian Sears) was a best-of-the-rest fourth, with Hititoutofthepark (Corey Callahan), Cuffllink Hanover (Jason Bartlett), Celebrity Express (John Campbell) and Lagerfeld also earning berth into next Saturday's $500,000 final (open draw for second jewel of Trotting Triple Crown is Tuesday morning). For Marion Marauder, a 3-year-old son of Muscle Hill trained by Paula Wellwood, who kept in the family for co-owners Marion Wellwood and Devin Keeling, it was his seventh win in nine seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $7.80, with the triple returning $22.60. "I couldn't have been more pleased with the way he trotted the half tonight," Zeron said. "I'm confident in his abilities to get the job done in the final." "We just wanted him to get off the gate clean and command a race on a half-mile, Mike Keeling, husband of the winning trainer, said. "I think he showed everybody that he can do that. He steered great and he trotted well." Saturday's card also featured a pair of events for 3-year-old fillies, the $118,574 Hudson Trot and $109,050 Lady Maud Pace (3YO fillies). The report will be through soon. Frank Drucker

ANDERSON, Ind.-August 10, 2016 - There has been plenty of ink devoted to the Indiana originations of harness racing world champions Wiggle It Jiggleit, Freaky Feet Pete and Always B Miki, but the horse that paced home in front of that trio in last Saturday's $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championship also is indelibly linked to the Hoosier State as Shamballa's dam resides in Shipshewana at Cornerstone Stock Farm. Therefore, his performance in this Friday's (Aug. 12) edition of the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes, his rise to prominence in the sport and his presence in the state's signature harness racing event also speaks volumes for the extraordinary success of the Indiana program. Despite competing in Canada for the majority of his career and his first breath not being drawn in Indiana, Shamballa's connections already had targeted an appearance in the Dan Patch prior to his upset victory at 8-1 on Hambletonian day and his appearance in Anderson is yet another testimonial to the potent force of this sport within the confines of "The Land of the Indians." "We were still in the winner's circle and right away it was announced he was going to the Dan Patch," said Howard Taylor, who co-owns the horse with Rick Zeron, TAO Racing and Cool Cat Racing. "I was so thrilled with his win, it took me a minute to process. I'm just blessed I have the opportunity to be involved with this horse, so I'm not directly involved with his schedule, but I was shocked Rick would race him again with that kind of turnaround. He has always managed Shamballa very conservatively throughout his career and never really liked to race him back-to-back weeks, but he knows this horse better than anyone and everyone is just excited about him as well as the race." Trained by Rick Zeron, Shamballa will commence his journey from post position seven with regular reinsman, Scott Zeron in the bike in the 12th contest on Friday's card. Although he enters this event fresh off a sublime pacing performance, he is 6-1 on the morning line behind favorite Always B Miki (8-5, post eight), Wiggle It Jigglieit (2-1, post one) and Freaky Feet Pete (5-1, post two). "Hoosier Park should be an excellent fit for this horse," Taylor said. "He comes with that one powerful run and the long stretch there should suit him." The 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere and the Life Sign mare Bolero Takara, Shamballa is the seventh foal out of his extremely prolific dam. The mare earned $516,153 while competing primarily in Canada during her two-year-career. She was a perfect 11-for-11 as a freshman and capped off that campaign with two victories at The Red Mile. As a sophomore, she was 7-2-2-0 with one of the seconds in the $764,400 Breeders Crown for her age, gait and gender. Bolero Takara proved just as reliable in the breeding shed. Shamballa has earned the most money ($680,878) from (her 10 offspring, but the gelding's elder half siblings Bolero Taishi (The Panderosa, $490,4047), Charles (Jenna's Beach Boy, $563,134), Bolero Tallia (Art's Conquest, $234,184) and Bolero Andrew (Bettor's Delight, $291,490) set the standard long before this horse's hooves ever hit the ground. She was purchased by Cornerstone Stock Farm in 2011 and has produced two foals for her new owners, the unraced 3-year-old Chest Rockwell (Panspacificflight) and the 2-year-old Takara Rose (Always A Virgin, $5,525). Unraced at age two, Shamballa was purchased privately as a yearling and began his career with conditioner Fred Grant at Pompano Park. He compiled a record of 11-5-0-0 and banked just over $53,000 in his first season of competition. In 2014, the gelding entered Rick Zeron's barn in June of that year when he became the property of his trainer and TAO Racing. Zeron steered and schooled the 4-year-old through a campaign which consisted of seven wins, two second place finishes, two thirds and $86,122 from 15 trips to the post for his new connections. Last year, Shamballa served notice he was a force to be reckoned with. His seasonal slate was 16-8-3-1 and he collected $286,901 in purse money. He competed primarily in preferred company in Canada but was a swiftly closing second with a blistering final quarter panel of :26.4 in the $513,750 Canadian Pacing Derby to champion State Treasurer and second to that rival again in the $138,500 Dayton Pacing Derby. While the gelding was enjoying his winter sojourn, Zeron contacted Taylor and offered him a piece of the horse. "I had horses with Rick and I've known him a long time," Taylor said. "When he asked me if I wanted to buy in on him, I felt fortunate. I had been watching this horse and he has a wicked brush to him. He was as fast as anything out there at the end of the race. You could always count on him to be flying at the end and I knew Rick had taken good care of him." Since Taylor became involved with Shamballa, the horse has amassed $272,045, composed a resume of 9-3-2-2 and lowered his lifetime mark to 1:47.1 with his U.S. Pacing Championship triumph. His connections are confident he is a player in the older pacing division, which has been dominated by what everyone in the sport has been referring to as "The Big Three" and the Dan Patch will demonstrate how substantial his bid is for divisional glory. "I always knew this horse had ability and would demonstrate that," Taylor said. "Did I think he could pace with those guys? I know he could be competitive because he has that kind of speed. Rick knows the horse, Scott knows how to drive him and they take great care of him. Rick said he was training great going into that race and is still doing very well. If you look at his two races before that he was right there with Always B Miki in the Haughton and in the last race at Mohawk he was locked in. Rick has him ready right now and I think he definitely belongs in the Dan Patch. Honestly, I think at this point you can throw a blanket over him with The Big Three because he's right there. We just hope things go well for him at Hoosier and he races well." The Dan Patch Stakes will highlight the 14-race card on Friday, August 12 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. As part of a weekend long festival tagged "Dan Patch Festival Weekend", Hoosier Park will showcase some of the most notable names in harness racing alongside special wagers, free fireworks, giveaways, and interactive family-friendly entertainment. First post is 5:45 p.m. For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visit www.hoosierpark.com. by Kim French, USTA News Editor          

Trenton, NJ --- About the only thing that could replace Saturday (Aug. 6) as the most memorable day for accomplishments in harness racing driver Scott Zeron’s life, is if he is ever elected Prime Minister of Canada. And even that might not do the trick, as the 27-year-old Canadian had a Hambletonian Day for the ages at the Meadowlands on Saturday. First, he defeated harness racing’s “Big Three” by driving Shamballa to an upset victory in the $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers. The fact Shamballa is trained and partly owned by Scott’s dad, Rick Zeron, made it even more special. Two races later in the $1 million Hambletonian, presented by Mullinax Ford, Zeron came from first over to drive Marion Marauder to a photo-finish win over Southwind Frank. It was the second such occurrence of the afternoon as Marion Marauder also defeated Southwind Frank in their Hambletonian elimination. Finally, Zeron capped his day by being recognized as the leading driver at this year’s Meadowlands meet. Zeron’s 82 wins were 12 more than runner-up Tim Tetrick. Zeron, who became the second-youngest driver to ever win the Hambletonian, became the first under-30 driver to win the Big M title since 29-year-old John Campbell led the colony in 1984. Any one of those feats would have made for an awesome day. To gain all three was like reaching into the pocket of a barely used jacket and discovering a crumpled $100 bill; hitting the Powerball later that day; and having the IRS immediately declare there will no longer be income tax on lottery winnings. “I don’t know how I could have a bigger day than I did on Saturday,” said the personable Zeron, who will drive Shamballa in Friday’s (Aug. 12) $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. “It wasn’t just about those two big wins; it was about winning the Hambletonian, an internationally known race, and also winning for my dad. It’s going to be very tough to surpass the emotions I had that day.” The fun started in the second Hambletonian elimination of the day. Marion Marauder was up against Southwind Frank, who had beaten him in all four meetings last year and was a 1-5 favorite. At 3-1 odds, Zeron’s horse trotted a lifetime best mile of 1:51.3 and overtook Southwind Frank in the final strides. “When I was looking on the TV, it doesn’t look as bad, it looks like he had three or four lengths on me, but when I was out there and by the time I had gotten all the way up four wide, it looked like he was a quarter-mile away from me,” Zeron said. “When I moved my horse over and he had that momentum, I thought halfway down the lane maybe I could get him. “I started asking my horse a little bit. I’m getting a little closer and I start pushing him a little more. When I got closer and closer I knew it was going to be huge to win that elimination and head into that final (because of being ensured a starting spot inside post six). It turned out the post position didn’t matter because everybody drew well.” Shortly thereafter, Scott got in the sulky behind Shamballa, who went off at 8-1 in the U.S. Pacing Championship. Rick Zeron’s horse was going against world champions Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki and Freaky Feet Pete, considered harness racing’s “Big Three” this year. Shamballa promptly made it the “Big Four” by pacing a career-best 1:47.1 to upset 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit by one length. “I went into that race definitely thinking I had a chance to win it,” Zeron said. “If I had the right trip I could beat those horses. He showed in a very vigorous first-up trip (in the William R. Haughton Memorial) when Miki beat me in a mile and an eighth race, that I could stay with those horses (Shamballa was second by three-quarters of a length). If things kind of worked out, I could beat the Big Three. “Not a lot of people believed I could. I was ecstatic with that one, with the family connections. I wish my dad was there to watch that race with me, but it was unbelievable to win that race. I was so excited. Beating those horses is one thing, but to win it for your father is another.” Although not in attendance, Rick felt the emotions and took the humble route when it was over. “The last thing he’ll ever talk about is the horse,” Scott said. “He’ll tell me how proud of me he is, and how much he loves me and he knew we could do this. And then we’ll get to ‘The horse raced great.’ He was all water works when we went across that wire. The fact that both of us believed this horse could do it and to always be the underdog, it felt unbelievable to get that win.” Zeron is looking forward to facing the "Big Three" again in Indiana on Friday, and feels Jimmy Takter’s horse may make a bigger impact after finishing fourth as the favorite in the U.S. Pacing Championship on Saturday. “It’s a great track for Miki and Miki was coming off a three-week layoff,” Zeron said. “I think he would be better up at Hoosier.” After posting two huge wins Saturday, Zeron and Marion Marauder geared for Scott’s first drive in a Hambletonian final. Both driver and horse were feeling good after their earlier victory. “It was huge to mow down Southwind Frank (in the elimination) with the insurmountable lead that he had,” Zeron said. “It was great for my horse to beat him. You just get that momentum, everything has to click on that day and that’s kind of the way it happened. To win from where we were sitting at that three-quarter pole, it just felt like we were going to win that final.” They prevailed in the most gut-wrenching way possible, launching a first-over assault to win a photo finish over Southwind Frank. Marion Marauder was fifth after a half-mile and second behind favorite Bar Hopping after three- quarters, before Bar Hopping dropped back and Marion Marauder charged ahead and ultimately held off Southwind Frank. “I knew I was going to be first up and I was very content with that because I could control my own destiny,” Zeron said. “My horse just slowly, gradually picked up his speed throughout the mile, so first up isn’t a spot that’s too challenging for him. I was happy, though, that when I did move him first up, he grabbed on and he wanted to go. “He knows coming around that turn that soon it’s go time. But when I moved him up to go first up, he wanted to go. It’s an amazing feeling to have that; when it’s the second heat, you already won a big first heat, and to just know that he felt good right there at the half. It was a warm feeling for me to know he wanted to win this race.” Zeron had to keep his joy in check, however, due to the photo finish. Southwind Frank's driver Yannick Gingras glanced over and congratulated Zeron, who remained mellow as he looked over to find Marion Marauder’s connections heading to the winner’s circle. “I’m staring over there and not one of my people are going over to that stand,” he said. “Nobody else was either. I’m thinking this is much closer than I even think. This could really be tight. “When I hit that wire I couldn’t enjoy it because I was so concerned about whether or not I won or not. We’re on CBS, so I’m not going to start fist pumping and going ballistic when there’s a shot I might not have won.” After a few minutes, which seemed like a few hours for Zeron, trainers Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling and owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling, Marion Marauder was declared the winner. “When they put it up on the TV screen all my connections went nuts,” Zeron said. “Then it really started to sink in.” As did the fact he was the track champion in just his third year of driving at the Meadowlands. Zeron had been eyeing the title for the past two months and finished with a 12-win cushion over Tetrick. “I wanted it and Timmy and I would talk about it in the last couple months, how many is he away, how many am I up by,” Zeron said. “For me it meant a lot. I was very focused on it the last few weeks.” Scott admitted things have accelerated in his career much faster than he thought. He has now crossed off two major races on his bucket list -- the Little Brown Jug and the Hambletonian. “They’re the two biggest races, especially for that international presence,” he said. “Everybody watches those races.” His top goal has not been reached, however, as he is still seeking a victory in the North America Cup. “Growing up in Canada, to me that’s the end-all, be-all race,” he said. “The NA Cup is my hometown race, that’s the one I want next year.” After all, it couldn’t hurt if he ever waged a campaign for prime minister. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

East Rutherford, NJ ---- It wasn’t the perfect drive. But it was the perfect ending. Marion Marauder won Saturday’s (Aug. 6) $1 million Hambletonian, presented by Mullinax Ford, by a nose over Southwind Frank in 1:51.4 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Sutton was third as the top three horses stretched across the finish line separated by only a neck in the 91st edition of the sport’s top race for harness racing 3-year-old trotters. It was Marion Marauder’s second win of the day. Earlier in the afternoon, he won his Hambletonian elimination by a half-length over Southwind Frank in a career-best 1:51.3. Last year, Marion Marauder was winless in races against Southwind Frank, finishing second on four occasions. In the Hambletonian final, Marion Marauder was fifth as Southwind Frank and Bar Hopping traded the lead in the first half of the race. At that point Scott Zeron, driving Marion Marauder for the wife-and-husband training team of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling, put his horse in gear and launched a first-over attack. Marion Marauder was second behind Bar Hopping at three-quarters, but reached the front at the top of the stretch. As Bar Hopping dropped back, eventually finishing fifth, Marion Marauder held off hard-charging challenges from Southwind Frank to his inside and Sutton on the outside. Waitlifter K was fourth, beaten a length. Zeron, who at age 27 became the second-youngest driver to win the Hambletonian, thought he might have moved too soon with Marion Marauder. “I know better,” Zeron said. “I know that when he clears another horse, he thinks the race is over, and I got a little over anxious. I just tried to get away on Southwind Frank and Bar Hopping and just sprint away from them and my horse just kind of started lollygagging around and not knowing where the wire was but he hung tough to finish. “It is amazing. The Wellwood family has trained trotters their whole lives and everything they’ve done has lead up to this point. The pressure is all on the Hambletonian and we delivered, the horse delivered. It was amazing. I can’t believe it.” Wellwood, who became the second female trainer to win the Hambletonian, along with Linda Toscano, is the daughter of the late Bill Wellwood, a driver/trainer enshrined in both the U.S. and Canadian halls of fame. Marion Marauder is owned by Wellwood’s mother, Marion Jean, and her 19-year-old son, Devin Keeling. Marion Marauder’s name combines the names of Wellwood’s mom and the nickname of Devin’s college mascot at McMaster University, where he will play football. Interestingly, the horse’s original name already had “Marion” in it; he was purchased for $37,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale under the name Marion Monopoly. According to Wellwood, this was the family’s 10th try at winning the Hambletonian. “It means the world; it was my father’s dream,” Wellwood said. “It has been my mother’s and my dream. We’ve tried. When this horse came along, you dare to dream. We started to dream last year. “I was in shock (at the finish) it was so close. I knew where he was, I knew he was first up and had taken over the lead. I guess I was in shock, I couldn’t even scream. I watched and I thought it was too close to call and everyone was saying it was too close to call.” Added a teary-eyed Marion Jean Wellwood, “It feels really good. I’ve been trying for this for a long time and I just want to say I dedicate this to my late husband.” Marion Marauder, a son of 2009 Hambletonian winner  Muscle Hill out of the Nova Award-winning mare Spellbound Hanover, has won six of seven races this year and seven of 20 career starts. He pushed his lifetime earnings to $1.01 million with his Hambletonian triumph. “The difference between last year and this year is that he grew quite a bit,” Paula Wellwood said. “He got bigger and stronger but the real difference is that he learned how to win.” Zeron’s win capped a memorable championship meet at the Meadowlands for the driver, who won the track’s driving title. “I want to thank Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling for bringing me in to drive this horse full time,” said Zeron, who was driving in the Hambletonian for the first time. “Not a lot of people give a young guy a chance to drive a Hambletonian trotter. It’s amazing.” by Ken Weingartner and Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

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