Toscano, Zeron show how to get it done in the Jug
by Bob Heyden
Hats off to the powers that be for the $1 million combined Jug purse and the most bettable Jug ever. The 850G final heat pot — for the first time ever — was more than any participant had lifetime going in. It’s My Show had $687,215 entering the festivities.
Scott Zeron and Linda Toscano completed the Jug/Jugette daily double in style, nailing Seven Colors in the last step.
David Miller had won an earlier elim. He entered the day with 10 pacing Triple Crown wins.
Nancy Takter and Yannick Gingras combined with Cannibal for an elimination score, but couldn’t make the top in a scorching :53.3 final half.
The Jug was the 507th Triple Crown event in the sport’s history.
THE MAIN PLAYERS
Toscano won her very first Little Brown Jug this year — the day after winning her first Jugette — three months after winning her first North America Cup with her Jug winner, It’s My Show. This came four years after training his brother Best In Show to her first ever Meadowlands Pace, which came a week after her Hall of Fame induction. That means she won her first NA Cup, Jug, Meadowlands Pace and Jugette after going into the Hall of Fame.
Zeron has now won the Jug 11 years apart — 2012 with Michael’s Power was his first. That victory made him the youngest driver at that time (23) to win a pacing Triple Crown event.
If you count the Jug as a $1-million race, then Zeron has swept the NA Cup ($1 million Cdn), Hambletonian and Jug in 2023, joining Bill O’Donnell (1985), John Campbell (1995) and Tim Tetrick (2012) as the fourth driver to win three seven-figure events in one season.
Zeron and Dexter Dunn hit the wire together in the Jug, just a neck apart. They were born the same year in 1989, 11 weeks apart.
Could Zeron be the one to end the four-year “Driver of the Year” streak that Dunn currently enjoys?
In the five richest races won by Zeron, none were favored. It’s My Show was the fifth choice in the Jug, as was Tactical Approach in the Hambletonian. It’s My Show was the second choice in the NA Cup. Previously, Zeron was third choice with Marion Marauder in the 2016 Hambletonian and second choice with Atlanta in 2018. It’s My Show remains the only conqueror of Confederate in 2023.
Zeron is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in his 20s and 30s. He’s also the only driver to defeat Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the same race. Shambala beat them both in the U.S. Pacing Championship in 2016.
Brett Pelling and Billy Haughton won the Jug and Jugette in the same year, 24 years apart. Now 25 years later Toscano joins in.
Zeron’s five biggest career wins have come by a combined 1 1/4 lengths.
Toscano’s Ucandoit Blue Chip is a daughter of 26-year-old and now retired, Molly Can Do It. She was the winner of the very first Breeders Crown for a female trainer. In 2002, Molly Can Do It gave Toscano her Crown over reigning HOY Bunny Lake no less.
TWO DEGREES OF SEPARATION
Follow along, it’s fun.
Zeron wins the Triple Crown with Marion Marauder in 2016 for trainer Paula Wellwood who is Toscano’s BFF.
On Hambletonian Day, Marion Marauder was paddocked by Shelly Grieco who is Toscano’s #1 go-to gal.
In 2012, Zeron wins the Jug with Michael’s Power who finishes second in the 3YOCP voting 68-50 to Heston Blue Chip trained by Toscano.
ZERON’S QUITE THE LADIES MAN
1. He won the 2016 Triple Crown with Marion Marauder for trainer Paula Wellwood.
2. He won the 2018 Hambletonian with the filly, Atlanta.
3. He won the 2023 NA Cup with It’s My Show for Toscano.
4. He won the 2023 Hambletonian with Tactical Approach for trainer Nancy Takter.
5. He won the 2023 Jug with It’s My Show for Toscano.
6. He won the 2023 Jugette for Toscano with Ucandoit Blue Chip, a daughter of Molly Can Do It who made Toscano the first female trainer to win a Breeders Crown.
NOTE: It’s My Show is now the second most famous horse to win a major stakes race who was winless (0-8) at 2. Art Official will likely forever hold this title having gone 0-15 in 2007 the year before he upended Somebeachsomewhere in the 2008 Meadowlands Pace.