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'Queen' Ready For Coronation?

Published: July 13, 2017 8:24 pm ET

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Call Me Queen Be faces a tough group of older female pacers in Saturday’s $201,000 Golden Girls at the Meadowlands Racetrack, but driver Scott Zeron expects his mare to be in the thick of the action from the get-go. It’s been a successful formula for the horse, who has earned nearly $1.1 million in her career.

“Even as a two- and three-year-old, we’ve kept her races kind of all the same,” Zeron said. “She’s made a million dollars by leaving really fast, sitting in, and letting things happen down the stretch. Whether she gets room and squeaks out or whether she gets her seconds or thirds, she’s made a million dollars doing that.”

Call Me Queen Be, trained by Ross Croghan for owners Let It Ride Stables and Dana Parham, has won 11 of 37 career starts and hit the board a total of 29 times. Her wins include the 2016 Breeders Crown for three-year-old filly pacers.

She has been either first or second at the first quarter in 16 of her most recent 19 races and 28 times overall.

“I know my horse really well; she can do almost anything I ask of her,” said Zeron, who has driven Call Be Queen Be in all but four of her races. “Her best asset is she can leave with the car and go 25 seconds and then go a second quarter in 32 seconds. She makes my job very easy.”

The Golden Girls is one of Saturday’s two stakes events for older pacers. Mel Mara is the 3-1 morning-line favourite in the $427,400 William R. Haughton Memorial for the older male pacers, which will be contested one race prior to the Golden Girls on the star-studded Meadowlands Pace Night card.

Lady Shadow, the sport’s No. 2-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, headlines the Golden Girls. The six-year-old mare is unbeaten in five races this year and owns an eight-race win streak dating back to October. She is the 9-5 morning-line favourite in the Golden Girls despite drawing post No. 10 in the 1-1/8 mile event.

A year ago, Lady Shadow won the Golden Girls with a world-record 2:00.3 clocking for 1-1/8 miles. At the conclusion of last season, Lady Shadow received the Dan Patch Award for best older female pacer in the U.S. and soon thereafter added a third O’Brien Award in Canada to go with honours at ages three and four.

Lady Shadow, owned by David Kryway, Carl Atley, Ed Gold and BFJ Stable, has won 33 of 60 career races and earned $1.8 million in purses. She is trained by Ron Adams. Yannick Gingras will be in the sulky.

New Zealand-bred Nike Franco, who was second by a neck to Lady Shadow last week in the preferred handicap for fillies and mares at the Meadowlands, is the 4-1 second choice from post four. She has won three of eight races this year and seven of 12 since arriving in North America. She is owned by Richard Poillucci and trained by Jo Ann Looney-King. Tim Tetrick handles the driving.

Pure Country, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages two and three, is 5-1 from post one and heads to the race off an eye-popping 1:48 qualifier on July 1 at the Meadowlands. Pure Country, trained by Jimmy Takter, has two second-place finishes in four races this season. She has won 20 of 35 career races and earned $1.8 million for owner Diamond Creek Racing.

“I knew (Jimmy) was going to drive her to kind of shake her up and wake her up,” Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden said about Pure Country’s qualifier, the fastest in history.

“Obviously this year is a little disappointing after what she did at two and three, but she’s had tough trips and she’s been sick most of her starts, battling something. We kind of got her cleaned up after Canada and she’s showed that she’s sharp again. I’m anticipating a good second half of the year now.”

Pure Country’s impressive qualifier and Lady Shadow starting from the outermost spot on the gate add to the intrigue surrounding this year’s Golden Girls.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Zeron, who leaves from post three with Call Me Queen Be and is 12-1. “A lot of horses could push out of there; it’s going to be an interesting race to that (first) quarter, that’s for sure. I think everybody kind of wants that two-hole trip if Yannick is going to make the choice to go to the front (with Lady Shadow). She tends to run out late and being in the two-hole spot to her is exactly where you want to be.”

Mel Mara heads to the Haughton Memorial, also being contested at 1-1/8 miles, off a second-place finish by a head to Keystone Velocity in the Ben Franklin Pace on July 1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The 8-year-old stallion has won three of five races this year and finished no worse than second while pushing his career earnings to $876,464.

Boston Red Rocks, winless in nine races this year but second on five occasions and third twice, is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. All Bets Off, who earlier this season won the Battle of Lake Erie and tops the Haughton Memorial field with $2.44 million in career earnings, is next at 9-2.

“I wish it wasn’t a mile and an eighth; it makes (All Bets Off) more of a closer in the race,” said All Bets Off’s trainer Ron Burke. “We’ll hope the trip works out. He’s always right around there.”

First race post time is 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Meadowlands. The Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for three-year-old pacers, featuring Dan Patch Award winner Huntsville, and the Hambletonian Maturity, with returning Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder, will air live on cable’s SNY from 9-10 p.m.

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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