There's very little that has eluded WEG circuit regular Rick Zeron over his decorated career. That's why a Breeders Crown coronation would mean the world to the veteran horseman. This year the 56-year-old horseman has two hopefuls in the 29th edition of the Breeders Crown, set for Saturday, Oct. 27, at Woodbine.
With no eliminations required for the 2- and 3-year-old filly trot divisions, Zeron's two charges Bee A Magician and Miss Paris will advance directly to their respective $600,000 and $500,000 finals. Zeron, who missed the 2011 Crown recovering from an injury, will drive the pair for New Jersey-based trainer Richard ‘Nifty' Norman and owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee.
Bee A Magician, a two-year-old daughter of Kadabra, has had almost a perfect debut season. With nine wins and one runner-up finish from 11 starts, the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) divisional leader has banked $536,190 in earnings.
"It is wonderful that she is getting a chance to go into the Breeders Crown,” said Zeron, who earned the O'Brien Award of Horsemanship in 2010. "She is going to represent Ontario. She is an Ontario-bred filly and I think she will do very well for herself. She hasn't been hurt this year. She's always stayed right up here in Canada and she never really travelled too much so she is pretty fresh.”
Bee A Magician will leave post six in next Saturday's final.
Miss Paris, a 3-year-old daughter of Kadabra, is also an Ontario Sires Stakes divisional leader. The 12-time career winner, who has an $869,923 bankroll, has crafted a record of 5-4-3 from 14 seasonal starts.
"Miss Paris just does her own thing,” explained Zeron. "She made a mistake on me the other day (October 10) at Grand River (in an OSS Gold Final), which was very uncharacteristic of her. I don't know why she did it. Coming out of the turn, I think she just tried to chase the gate a little bit too much and I lost her. She spotted the field about 12 lengths and came back and finished second. She was beat half a length.
"I am really excited about having her in the Breeders Crown because she has such a late closing kick that I'm not going to have to do any work early,” he continued. "Hopefully, the rest of the three-year-olds will do the work for me and I can get up into the hunt and have her moving strongly at the head of the stretch and see how much money we can get.”
In 2011, Miss Paris finished fourth in her Crown final with Zeron's son, Scott, in the bike. This year she will leave post three in her divisional championship.
As Zeron looks for his first Crown trophy, he is also knocking on the door of $100 million in career driver purse earnings. "On any night it would be perfect, but if I could do that on Breeders Crown night, it would just be a little extra feather in your cap, you get your $100 million milestone, while winning a Breeders Crown with a special horse,” he offered.
As of Oct. 16, he is $237,284 shy of the mark, with $99,762,716 in earnings and 7,584 trips to the winner's circle. When Zeron surpasses the milestone, he will become the 16th driver in the history of the sport to do so, joining fellow WEG drivers Steve Condren, Paul MacDonell, Jack Moiseyev, Luc Ouellette and Randy Waples.
Three other Crown divisions will also not require eliminations: Open Trot, Open Pace and Older Mares Pace. Eliminations for two-year-old filly pacers and freshman colt trotters and pacers will be contested on Friday at the Toronto oval. Eliminations for three-year-old filly pacers, sophomore colt trotters and pacers and older trotting mares will be held on Saturday. The first race on each night will get under way at 7:30 p.m. (Woodbine)