Saturday, November 18, 2023

It wasn’t the North America Cup, Hambletonian or Kentucky Futurity, but Scott Zeron proved Friday night at The Meadowlands that it doesn’t necessarily take a major stakes event to find him in the winner’s circle, as the 34-year-old, known as “The Money Man”, guided five winners on the card.

Zeron’s night gets even more impressive when you consider he was eligible to drive in only 11 races, as the other three dashes on the 14-race program were for Meadowlands Amateur Driving Club members.

Walk No. 1 down victory lane came with Fashion Forever (an 8-year-old gelding by Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover), who scored at 9-1 in a non-winners of $3,000 in their last four starts trot in 1:55.3 for trainer Karen Garland after swerving out of the four-hole and charging home from a tough spot for the win in the third race.

Racin For Royalty (Racing Hill-Western Royalty) gave Zeron a driving double in the fourth after scoring with a 3-year-old trained by Maria Alvarez in a lifetime-best 1:52.2 in a TrackMaster (rating of 74 or less) fillies and mares pace as the 2-1 second choice before he guided his lone winning favorite of the night, Deadline Hall, a 3-year-old gelded son of Muscle Mass-Daylon Mystique, to a 1:53.3 lifetime-best effort for Jeff Cullipher at odds of 4-5 in a non-winners of $5,000L4 in the sixth.

Zeron’s fans had more to cheer about in the eighth when Scott split rivals late with Dover Downs shipper Good Deal, a 4-year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou-Cut A Deal, and exploded home to a 1:51 lifetime-best score for Michael Calderone as the 5-1 fourth choice in a pace for non-winners of $2,000L4 in the eighth.

One of the leading contenders for the Dan Patch Driver of the Year award, Zeron gave his following another good hit when he won his fifth of the evening behind True Blue Hanover (a 3-year-old by American Ideal-Transference) in the 13th for John Balzer as the 8-1 third choice after completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:51.3 in a non-winners of $7,500L4 fillies and mares pace.

“I didn’t anticipate that it was going to be that great of a night,” said Zeron. “A bunch of them were just pickups. My horses raced well, and the track was very non-biased.”

Things were going well for Zeron, and he was feeling it.

“You have momentum when doing well,” said Zeron. “So, it’s good vibrations. Things were unfolding well.”

For the year, Zeron’s 78 wins are good for third in The Big M’s driver standings. Yannick Gingras leads the way with 111 victories, followed by Dave Miller, who has 106.

AN EXCLUSIVE CLUB: Zeron became the fifth driver during 2023 to win five times on a Meadowlands card. The others to do it are Jordan Stratton, Gingras, Tim Tetrick and Dexter Dunn.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: Veteran Big M TV personality Dave Little came close to a historic hit on the card. His on-camera 20-cent Pick-6 ticket was an investment of $57.60, and Little ended up going five for six, missing only the 10th race, where his two horses finished second and third. The Pick-6, which had a total pool of over $89,000 after starting the night with a carryover of almost $19,000, returned $39,275.

A LITTLE MORE: Cullipher led the trainers with three winners. … No one had a winning ticket on the 20-cent Pick-8, creating a triple carryover of $5,300 when racing resumes. … All-source handle was vigorous, but came up just short of the $3-million mark, as a total of $2,969,936 was pushed through the windows. … Chalk players continued to take it on the chin Friday, as after four public choices scored, the percentage of winning favorites stood at 23.8 percent over the last three race cards (10-for-42). … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Good Deal splits rivals nearing the wire to take the eighth race at The Meadowlands Friday night, giving driver Scott Zeron his fourth of five winners on the card. (Credit: Lisa Photo)