Svanstedt, Zeron Voted USHWA's Trainer, Driver Of The Year

Published: December 28, 2023 10:23 am EST

Åke Svanstedt, who seemed to have one (or sometimes more than one) of the top contenders in just about every major trotting stakes race in 2023 North America, has been voted Trainer of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading media organization.

During the same voting, Scott Zeron, nicknamed “The Money Man,” went over $10 million in earnings for the first time and was a “Perfect 10” from the number 10 post in the Hambletonian at The Meadowlands and Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park with Tactical Approach, nabbing the Driver of the Year accolades. It was the first title in this category for both horsemen, though Zeron was USHWA’s Rising Star in 2012. Both horsemen topped their 2023 group by a wide voting margin.

The 65-year-old Svanstedt came to North America from his native Sweden in 2014, and his stable has earned $53.5 million on “this side,” placing him in the top 20 since the U.S.Trotting Association began keeping records in 1992, with only one of his rivals in the top 20 beginning their North American careers after 1998. And 2023 was the best year for trotters from the green and white stable, with $10.04 million in accumulated bankrolls, second only to the ubiquitous Ron Burke stable.

Breeders Crown trotting action at Hoosier Park showed Svanstedt trainees at their best, with four winners – Warrawee Michelle, Bond, Southwind Tyrion and Jiggy Jog S in the six trotting events (and Svanstedt guiding all but Jiggy Jog S). In all, Svanstedt sent 11 horses postward in the Crown competition, with two more finishing second. Svanstedt trainees also won all 11 divisions of the Simpson Stakes for trotters in which they raced this fall at Pocono.

In sum, 24 different horses won stakes of $100,000 or more for the barn, with 13 different diamond-gaiters contributing to that circle of success. Jiggy Jog S was the barn’s richest performer with $1,051,453, and three stablemates joined her among the top 10 money-winners among trotters.

Svanstedt’s team surpassed $10 million in earnings; horses handled by the 34-year-old Zeron just eclipsed that figure for a personal best, pushing his career earnings just over $100 million. As noted above, Zeron was “stuck behind the 10-ball” in two major stakes, starting from the outside in the Hambletonian and as a trailer in the Breeders Crown with Tactical Approach, but both times provided heady drives behind the major U.S. Trotter of the Year contender to get the money despite the unlucky draw. (He also won from post 10 with Tactical Mounds in the $275,000 New Jersey Classic three-year-old filly trot final.)

Tactical Approach was the leading money-winning trotter of 2023 with $1,507,989 amassed. Zeron guided him in every one of his races, as he did with another millionaire, the sophomore pacer Its My Show ($1,199,584). That one first won the North America Cup and then the Little Brown Jug, in the latter contest completing a sweep of the Delaware, Ohio classics for himself and trainer Linda Toscano after Ucandoit Blue Chip had won the Jugette. All that picture posing in victory lane helped Zeron garner 107 ballots, most of any two-legged creature in the voting cycle.

Åke Svanstedt and Scott Zeron will be honoured at the annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, presented by Caesars Entertainment, to be held Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024 at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida.

Room reservations at Rosen Centre for the star-studded Dan Patch Awards weekend can be made at the USHWA website at Sponsorship opportunities for the event can be procured from sponsorship chairman Shawn Wiles at [email protected]. Advertisements in the souvenir journal can be arranged with journal chairman Kim Rinker at [email protected]. Tickets for the banquet can be procured from ticket chairman Judy Davis-Wilson at [email protected] or Liz Cheesman at

(United States Harness Writers Association)

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