Zerons on the cusp of history

by Bob Heyden

The father-and-son team of Rick and Scott Zeron are hoping their filly Atlanta will be the first female Hambletonian winner since Continentalvictory in 1996. It will mark the Hambletonian debut for Rick, but will also put Scott on the doorstep of history.

No one has won the Hambletonian with a colt and a filly prior to turning 30. Scotty was born 11 weeks before the 1989 Dead Heat Hambletonian, is 29 now, and won the 2016 Hambletonian with Marion Marauder.

John Campbell debuted at 28 in 1983 with Joie De Vie, winning his first ever heat, and Campbell drove his first female in the Hambletonian at 31 when he finished fourth with Britelite Lobell in 1986. It was the first time he drove for Chuck Sylvester.

Others who have won the Hambletonian – older than age 30 — with both a male and female sophomore are:
Mike Lachance, Frank Ervin, Stanley Dancer, Henry Thomas, Fred Egan and Ben White.

A reminder of Campbell’s greatness

Through 2007, a great note on post 10 surfaced that became somewhat relevant when Dorsudoro Hanover finished a strong second in the Meadowlands Pace from the outer post this year. In the first 30 editions of the Meadowlands Pace, all other drivers not named John Campbell had a composite record from Post 10 in the Meadowlands Pace of 25 2-0-0. John Campbell had five drives from post 10 and all five hit the board and two of them were winners — Hilarion in 1982 and The Panderosa in 1999.

International power

Ten of the last 15 Hambletonians have gone to a trainer born outside the United States:

4 Sweden
4 Canada
1 Norway
1 Australia

35 years ago this week…

Cam Fella and Its Fritz met for the first of three times (all won by Cam Fella).

The first meeting happened on July 25, 1983, pushed back from a Saturday to a Monday due to a scheduling conflict for Pat Crowe.

This race was part of the 28-race winning streak that marked a spectacular end to Cam Fella’s career and his second straight Horse of the Year title. Ideal Tanner was second and Its Fritz tired to third after leading from the half on.

The incredible legacy of Stanley Dancer

The legendary Stanley Dancer would have turned 91 on July 25.

His records seem to take on more importance as the years go by.

No one is close to doing what he did a half century or so ago. Dancer won the Triple Crown in 1968, 1970 and 1972 — with horses he selected, broke, raised, drove and trained — and just missed in 1971 with Albatross or he would have had four in five years.

Here are the combined records of the three Triple Crown winners Dancer campaigned:

158 starts —117 wins 20 seconds 8 thirds; $1,891,927

Nevele Pride — 67 57-4-3, $871,738

Super Bowl — 51 38-6-2, $601,156

Most Happy Fella — 40 22-10-3, $419,033

Seventy-four per cent winning percentage combined!

Dancer campaigned seven Horse of the Year winners.

He sold five horses by his early 40s for $1 million or more — none of which cost more than $27,000 as yearlings.

His horses became stallions — supreme ones — too. Albatross and Super Bowl stood side by side at Hanover Shoe Farms for a quarter century from 1973 on. Both were Dancer trainees.

Most Happy Fella became a huge impact stallion, but his life was cut short the same year (1983) his son Cam Fella won his second successive HOY title.

When Linda Toscano went 1-2 in the 2012 HOY ballot with Chapter Seven and Market Share it marked the first time in 40 years this had happened. In 1972, Albatross and Super Bowl did it last for Dancer.

This year marks the 50th anniversary season for Dancer-trained Nevele Pride, the only trotter to three-peat in the HOY ballot. It is also the 50th anniversary season of the first ever horse to eclipse the $1 million mark — Dancer pupil Cardigan Bay.