Last Saturday, driver Scott Zeron wore Lindy Farms colors rather than his own while driving International Moni to victory in his Goodtimes elimination. Lindy’s Frank M. Antonacci said he hopes it’s just the beginning of drivers wearing owner colors in marquee events.
by Dave Briggs
Anyone thinking Lindy Farms was staging a publicity stunt last Saturday when driver Scott Zeron wore the farm’s colors while driving International Moni to victory in his Goodtimes elimination at Mohawk don’t know the Antonacci family.
It’s just the beginning, Lindy head trainer Frank M. Antonacci told HRU Friday evening. Pending judges’ approval again this week, Zeron will be wearing Lindy’s black, blue and white colors rather than his own white, blue and red tonight when he drives International Moni in the $251,000 final of the Goodtimes for sophomore trotting colts (race 10) on the Pepsi North America Cup undercard.
“I believe in it. It’s something we’re going to give a shot and I encourage other owners to do the same,” Antonacci said of drivers following the thoroughbred tradition of jockeys wearing owner silks rather than their own. “To me, it just makes sense. Do I think every overnight is going to have guys with owner colors? No. But the places where we showcase our sport and showcase our breed, why wouldn’t owners and farms demand that these guys wear these colors? It’s their horses, their product and it’s the greatest billboard you can have for your brand — your winning horse.”
Antonacci said it’s not only a great way to help attract new owners, but the particular colors Lindy is using may also have a competitive advantage.
“It’s a company called Speed Silks that makes jockey silks,” Antonacci said. “There’s traditional jockey silks that’s the same material as our traditional colors, but this company called Speed Silks makes the tighter material that’s more aerodynamic, less wind resistant and has less drag. Think about what professional cyclists wear. In my opinion, our regular colors are the least aerodynamic thing that we do. We put a driver in the back of a sulky that’s wearing, pretty much, parachute material. It’s like stopping a dragster.
“We do all these things — wheels, bikes and all these other things — to pick up fractions of a second. If you think of it, a fifth of a second is a quite a long distance when you talk about a horse race. It doesn’t take much to move the needle.”
Antonacci said his younger brother, Phil Antonacci, was the one that took the initiative and got the Lindy colors made. It was a subject the brothers discussed with HRU last October (full story here).
“We talked about it last fall in Lexington and it just took us a little longer to get the colors situated,” Frank said. “We had it in the back of our minds going into this year that we wanted to try it. Scotty has been game for it and we figured it was the right horse to do it with. I’m glad it worked out and hopefully other jurisdictions will allow us to do it throughout the year.”
Frank said both the Mohawk judges and International Moni’s co-owner David Reid “were fantastic” to let Zeron wear the Lindy colors and the track announced the change. When International Moni won, the new colors immediately got attention in the industry.
“I got a bunch of texts from a lot of people in the industry saying they loved it,” Frank said. “There was a lot of comments on Twitter about it, especially from the Europeans. This is stuff that they do all the time. Nuncio, he raced in the Elitlopp in (Stefan) Melander’s colors. It’s kind of what they do there. It’s what we do in thoroughbred racing here. As unique as it is for us in the standardbred industry in the States and Canada, it’s par for the course and the standard in many other places.”
Though Lindy also qualified Shake It Off Lindy for the Goodtimes final with a third-place finish, driver Brett Miller was wearing his own purple and white colors and will be doing so again tonight.
“They really are a custom set,” Frank said of the Speed Silks. “We had Scotty’s measurements going into the season and had them specifically made for Scott. So, we would do the same for Brett and do the same for Timmy (Tetrick) and all the other guys that we use on a regular basis, as long as they’re willing to do so. I haven’t had a specific conversation with Brett, yet, but my hope would be that Shake It Off Lindy is the type of horse that he’d be willing to come on board and do this, as well.
“It’s really not that difficult. Guys like Scotty that are willing to try things, I’ve got to give him credit for that. You read Yannick’s article (in last week’s HRU, full story here), we should be doing everything and anything to help the game. I think you’ve got to put this in that category, as well.”
The fact that International Moni — a Love You colt out of Antonacci and Reid’s famed mare Moni Maker — is in the spotlight right now certainly helps the colors debate gain some traction.
“If the horses keep getting the attention, then it makes this an even better conversation,” Frank said.