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Harness Highlights: It's Official! Atlanta to Face the Boys in Hambletonian

by Frank Carulli

July 24, 2018

Rick Zeron's best kept secret has been made public. The trainer revealed last weekend that he plans to run star filly Atlanta against the boys in the $1 million Hambletonian Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands.

Atlanta has won all five starts this year for regular driver Scott Zeron. She defeated older male trotters in her seasonal debut at the Meadowlands in 1:52, set a Vernon Downs all-age track record in 1:50.3 in the Emprie Breeders Classic and dominated in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon most recently to improve to 9-for-14 with a $313,309 bankroll.

"Scott and I decided this about a month ago, but we just kind of kept it all to ourselves and mulled everything all over and did all the right do's and don'ts," Rick Zeron told Mark McKelvie of Woodbine Communications.

Harness fans reacted quickly to the news, making Atlanta the 3-to-1 second favorite in the Hambletonian Future Wager Pool #2 that closed Sunday. Atlanta will try to become the first filly since Continentalvictory in 1996 to win the world's most prestigious race. Co-owners Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant could have opted for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks but Zeron said they "are on board" with the decision to run in the Hambletonian.


Evenin of Pleasure swept to a convincing victory in the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga Raceway last Saturday to become harness racing's newest millionaire.

Joe Bongiorno was in the bike as the hard-hitting, 8-year-old blew past Rockin Ron near the 3/4-mile mark and won by 5-1/2 lengths in 1:49.2, the third fastest mile in the track's history. Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) set a rapid, contested half-mile pace of :53.4, setting up Evenin of Pleasure's run at his 33rd lifetime victory. Defending champ Bit Of A Legend A (Jordan Stratton) raced close-up in the pocket and finished second behind the 2-to-1 winner.

Evenin of Pleasure won four open company races at Yonkers Raceway since May, all from post 6 outward, heading into the Gerrity. He is trained by Jenn Bongiorno for owner Gestion Blais, Inc.