Happy Birthday Carmine Abbatiello and Scott Zeron

by Bob Heyden

Happy belated birthday to Carmine Abbatiello and Scott Zeron. Both “The Red Man” and the “The Money Man” were born on the same day — May 23 — 53 years apart. Abbatiello was born in 1936 and Zeron in 1989.

Abbatiello was the leading money-winning driver in all of North America in 1975 with $2,275,903. He did it again in 1978 with $3,344,457. He multiple driving titles, first at Monticello, then Yonkers and Roosevelt. He did try The Meadowlands when they opened in 1976, but soon headed back to New York. Thirteen times he was in the top five in earnings for the year and topped $50 million for his career. Some of his standout horses included Newt Lobell, Taurus Romeo and Big Towner, as well as Anxious Robby. His last major stake appearance came in the 1994 Meadowlands Pace handling Haunted House for trainer Robert Siegelman.

Zeron surpassed $100 million in 2023 at age 34, the same year he handled “Trotter of the Year “ Tactical Approach, the leading money-winner in his division and the winner of both Triple Crown races he participated in, the Hambletonian from post 10 and the Kentucky Futurity. Zeron also captured the Jug with It’s My Show giving him three Triple Crown race wins that year. All three were for female conditioners: Nancy Takter and Linda Toscano. Zeron is the only driver with three Hambletonian wins under his belt prior to his 35th birthday, and has never driven a favorite in the Hambletonian in seven finals. In 2016, at the age of 27, he won the Triple Crown with Marion Marauder making him a full decade younger than any other driver to do so (Trond Smedshammer was 37 in 2004 with Windsong’s Legacy). Zeron remains to this day the youngest driver to ever win a Pacing Triple Crown at the tender age of 23 in 2012 capturing the Jug with Michaels Power. Zeron and John Campbell are the only two drivers ever to win nine Triple Crown events before they turned 35.


Saturday is 10 weeks from Hambletonian edition No. 99, and we want to throw a lot out there now in an attempt to make this year the most memorable, until the 100th of course in 2025.

1. Karl is a son of Tactical Landing who won it last year with Tactical Approach. The last and only time any sire won the Hambletonian with his first two crops, was Stars Pride in 1958 and 1959 with Emilys Pride and Diller Hanover, respectively.

2. Post 10 in the Hambletonian Oaks from 1981-2021, the first 40 editions in NJ, earned $446G in those 40 years combined, a little more than $11G per year. The last two years, post 10 has $500,000 for an average of $250,000 a pop.

3. Berndt Lindstedt won $912,257 driving in the Hambletonian from 1979-2002. From Nature Lover, 12th at DuQuoin to sixth with Likely Lad at The Meadowlands the year he turned 66.

4. “The Insiders” most certainly hasn’t been filmed at The Meadowlands in any recent years on Hambletonian Day. In each of the past eight years, posts 1, 2, and 3 have all been blanked in both the Hambletonian and the Oaks. That’s right, shut out!

5. The Hambletonian is tough to win. Yannick Gingras could be in his 14th final and Dave Miller his 21st. Likely with the two favorites Karl and T C I. Both Hall of Fame drivers.

6. Andy Miller will be 55 years 11 months old trying for his Hambletonian breakthrough this year. Roger Hammer was 59 years 5½ months in 2005 with Vivid Photo.

7. There are seven members of the $200 million driving club. Ready? Every one has finished last in the Hambletonian at least once, for a grand total of 18 times.

8. What is 4, 4, 9, 6, 4? Someone’s zip code? No, they’re Dexter Dunn’s Hambletonian finishes (2019-23) as he looks to break through in 2024.

9. If Mike Lachance, a four-time Hambletonian winning driver, gets the nostalgia bug and decides to come out of retirement and drive and win the 100th Hambletonian in 2025, he would then edge out Bi Shively as the elder statesman of all Hambletonian winning drivers at 74 years 7 months 20 days to Shively’s 74 years 4 months 12 days in 1952 with Sharp Note.

10. “Ask Marcus…” Melander that is. He’s got the second-longest streak (current) in Hambletonian history for years with consecutive checks at seven in his first seven years. Jimmy Takter holds the mark at nine-straight years (2010-18) ironically his last nine years.