10/28/2011 8:51AM

Great ‘Scott’: Zeron fit for a Breeders Crown?

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TORONTO, October 27 - Scott Zeron has already stamped himself as a genuine top driving talent, a young gun with veteran savvy on a quest for his Breeders Crown coronation.

Success, and plenty of it, has already come for the 22-year-old Zeron.  And there’s every reason to believe more success is in the cards.

But for all he has accomplished since he started his career in the sulky in 2007, the son of veteran driver/trainer Rick Zeron is hoping the night of October 29 yields a first, namely a triumph in a Breeders Crown race.

“I’d absolutely love to win one,” said Zeron, who has six drives in Saturday evening’s stakes-stacked card of racing at Woodbine, including John Fielding’s Alsace Hanover in the $500,000 three-year-old colt pace. “It’s something everyone dreams of.”

In spite of his eye-catching numbers - he’s currently leading all Canadian drivers in wins on the season with 470 through October 26 - Zeron is decidedly uncomfortable dwelling on past performances.  Instead, the Oakville, Ontario native, who chalked up over $1-million in purse earnings in his sophomore year (2008) at the races, is always firmly focused on the next quest.

Enter October 29. Specifically, a $6-million card of racing and an opportunity at a cherished first.

“I only think about the past to build myself up for the future,” said Zeron, who in 2009 was aboard FBS Terror in the $300,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Woodbine. “People will say you’re only as good as the last race you were in.”

Which is why Zeron is quite literally, a student of the game.  Pre-race preparations include diligent homework by the man who became the first Canadian driver to win 1,000 career races before the age of 22.

“I read that program in and out,” said Zeron, whose top 2010 moment was behind Part Shark in the prestigious Gold Cup & Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park in P.E.I., the duo winning in 1:51, a track record at the half-mile oval. “Until you get behind the gate, you never know what will happen, but I want to know what horses are prone to leaving strong and who comes off from the pace. I think I do a good job at situating myself in a race in order to give myself the best chance to win. I watch a lot of replays.”

On most occasions, however, Zeron zeroes in on the ones that have a happy ending.

“I usually like to watch the races that I win to see what I did right,” he quipped. “I don’t like to look at the things I did wrong. I know what I did wrong.”

Zeron, who was invited to represent Canada at an international driving competition in France in 2010, where he finished second in the Prix des Rencontres Internationales du Trotteur Français at Paris-Vincennes, exudes confidence whenever he takes the reins.  But he acknowledges he gives in to a nervous energy, akin to a hockey player just before the drop of the puck, before the gate unfolds.

“I’m really good that way,” he said. “I get nervous just before the first race. Once I get one race out of my system, I’m good to go.  The adrenaline is pumping and I’m feeling good. Even going up to the gate, especially in these big races, you might have those jitters, but once the race starts, it’s all focus.”

Zeron, who was a finalist for an O’Brien Award for Driver of the Year, was edged out by Randy Waples, winning 606 races with $4,435,293 in purse earnings in 2010. In his best season yet, he led all drivers in wins.  And though the lure to dwell on his past successes might be understandable, Zeron’s focus never strays beyond the next call to post.

In his world, it’s all about looking forward.

“I’d like to think I’ve completed five per cent of things I want to do,” offered Zeron. “There’s so much to look forward to.  We’ll say that when I win a few Breeders Crown races this weekend, I’ll want to win them again next year. That’s how it is for me.”

He’ll have a six-pack of chances on Saturday to rein in a Breeders victory, triumph or perhaps triumphs, that would mean the world to Scott Zeron.

 

Harness Eye's Derick Giwner and DRF's Dan Illman break down the 2011 Breeders' Crown with a focus on the Two $100,000 guaranteed Pick 4s. Get full coverage of the 2011 Breeders' Crown »