07/31/2014 9:48AM

Meadowlands: Scott Zeron excited for Hambletonian Day

Lisa Photo
Lock Down Lindy is listed as the 3-1 second choice for Zeron in the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle final.

When driver Scott Zeron made the decision to leave Canada for the United States last year, he admittedly was “just hoping things worked out.” One year removed from starting in just two minor stakes races on Hambletonian Day, Zeron has a drive in six $100,000-plus events on the first Saturday in August this year and at least a chance to win a few.

“I always try to have big aspirations and thought one day I’d be at this level,” said Zeron of his rapid ascent in the Meadowlands’ driver colony. “I couldn’t have imagined being in as many stakes as I am (on Hambo Day), but I try to work hard and take it all in stride.

“I never knew what work was until I came down here,” said Zeron of his hectic schedule as he was about to begin the first half of a double-header between Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Wednesday (7/30).

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One of the major reasons for Zeron’s success has to be his alliance with trainer Tony Alagna. The conditioner of top horses like Captaintreacherous has used Zeron almost exclusively on his 2-year-olds as well as many of his more accomplished horses.

Zeron, 25, will team up with Alagna for five of his 10 drives on the 15-race Hambletonian Day card on at the Meadowlands. Perhaps his best of chance of success comes in the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle Final (race 6) with a first-crop daughter of Lucky Chucky from the mare Love Lockdown.

Lock Down Lindy has won two of her first three starts and set a new lifetime mark of 1:55 winning her elimination last week. In each of her trips to the track she has shown an explosive late kick which she may need to catch the freaky-fast Mission Brief.

“I tell Tony all the time that this horse is going to take me to the Promised Land,” said Zeron about Lock Down Lindy, who he calls his favorite horse.

The Ron Burke-trained Mission Brief has already trotted nearly two seconds faster (1:53 2/5) than Lock Down Lindy. But Zeron isn’t about to concede defeat. “Yannick’s (Gingras) horse is the one to beat, but I think I have the only horse that can beat her.”

Lock Down Lindy starts from post three while Mission Brief has post five in the rich final.

Zeron steers Gifted Way from post eight for Alagna in the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial Final, race 7 on Saturday. Although the Cantab Hall-Gifted Way product was only fourth in his elimination and made a break in his prior start, Zeron remains high on the potential of this $170,000 yearling purchase.

“He is very talented. The (past performance) lines don’t say how talented he really is,” said Zeron, who added that he purposely raced from behind in his elimination because the horse broke in his prior start. “He is coming into the race as good as he can be. Maybe you can call him a sleeper, but I believe he has what it takes.”

Geri SchwarzScott Zeron is 5th in the Meadowlands driver   standings.

The road to the winner’s circle in the Haughton could go through Guess Whos Back (post five). The Nik Drennan trainee, along with elimination winner Centurion ATM (post one) and Canepa Hanover (post two), have each displayed promise as rookie trotters.

Zeron hopes to hit the board in a start behind Vanity Matters in the somewhat wide-open $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The Jonas Czernyson trainee won in 1:53 1/5 two starts back but had traffic trouble after showing early speed in her Oaks prep.

“Last week in the prep, we were behind Shake It Cerry and Designed To Be and it looked like the best spot we could be in,” said Zeron. “But we were going so slow that she didn’t have a chance to show her stuff,” said Zeron.

Vanity Matters will begin from post three, two slots outside of morning line favorite Designed To Be. Second-choice Shake It Cerry starts from the second tier in post 11.

Dancin Hill will pair up with Zeron in the $225,500 New Jersey Classic for 3-year-old pacers. Although the horse has but one third-place finish in a qualifier since a July 6 win at Pocono in 1:52, Zeron is looking for a strong effort from the Alagna-trained colt.

“Tony has taken his time with him and prepped him for this race. [Dancin Hill] has crazy closing speed,” said Zeron.

Regardless of his success on Saturday, Zeron, with 80 wins heading into the weekend, has already locked down a top-five spot in the Meadowlands driver colony. He sits just one win shy of Tim Tetrick, perhaps the best driver in the sport. That’s pretty good company for a 25-year-old making his debut on the toughest circuit in the sport.

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