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Is Artspeak The Heir Apparent?

Published: September 26, 2014 5:02 pm ET

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“A lot of the people have been comparing the two. Obviously, they were both dominant at this point in their careers when you compare them."

As the racing career of award-winning pacer Captaintreacherous comes to an end, with a retirement ceremony scheduled for next week at The Red Mile, an heir apparent competes Saturday night at the famed Lexington oval.

Artspeak, who like Captaintreacherous is from the stable of trainer Tony Alagna, is six-for-six as he heads to The Red Mile for his division of the Bluegrass Stakes for two-year-old male pacers. He is coming off a 3-1/2 length win in 1:50.2 in the Metro Pace on Aug. 30 at Mohawk Racetrack.

The colt has won all six of his races by a minimum of 1-3/4 lengths.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him,” driver Scott Zeron said. “I don’t think we’ve seen his bottom yet. Tony’s done a good job of making sure that every time he gets behind the gate he’s fully prepared.

“He’s got heart. That’s something you just have to pray you have in a horse. He’s a horse that every time he steps onto the track he wants to beat other horses. He kind of actually wants to demolish them. That speaks for itself. So far he’s proven that he’s a major player.”

Captaintreacherous, who will be honoured Oct. 2 at The Red Mile, won eight of 10 starts at age two and became the first two-year-old in 25 years to be named Pacer of the Year. Last season at age three, he won 13 of 16 races and received his second Pacer of the Year award.

Artspeak is a son of stallion Western Ideal out of the mare The Art Museum. He was purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale and his family includes 2007 Meadowlands Pace winner Southwind Lynx. Artspeak is owned by co-breeder Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners.

"Every time I sit behind (Artspeak) he’s just a pleasure. He’s so nice to handle. Tony has taught him to really know what he’s doing out on the racetrack.”

He races in the third of four Bluegrass divisions and is the 4-5 morning line favourite.

“His being undefeated isn’t something that crosses my mind every time we race,” Zeron said when asked if there was pressure driving a horse like Artspeak. “I just want to try to drive him to where he can display his abilities. That’s my job, to make sure I give him every chance to display what he can do.

“We were 1-9 in the Metro Pace; I don’t know if people call that pressure or a weight off your shoulders. I’d rather be the 1-9 shot going into those races.”

The Canadian-born Zeron has 11 drives Saturday night at The Red Mile, with 10 of them behind Alagna-trained horses. The 25-year-old, who is the son of driver Rick Zeron, moved to the U.S. with the hopes of advancing his career. It has worked out better than he imagined.

Zeron, who in 2012 became the youngest driver to win the Little Brown Jug behind the Casie Coleman-trained Michaels Power, has earned $4.30 million this year, good for No. 14 among all drivers in North America.

“Tony told me if I did make the move he would help me out and try to make me first call on the (young horses), and he’s done just that,” Zeron said. “So I give him credit for the majority of my (success) this year.

“All I ever wanted was to be on the Grand Circuit. Now to be down at The Red Mile and have multiple drives on every card, it’s a thrill. I’m happy to be at the point I’m at. This is where every heavy hitter comes and to be racing with them on a nightly basis is amazing.”

Among Zeron’s other drives are It Was Fascination and Beach Gal in divisions of the Bluegrass for three-year-old female pacers. It Was Fascination is 6-1 on the morning line and Beach Gal is 3-1. Both start from post eight in eight-horse fields.

It Was Fascination, trained by Alagna and owned by Riverview Racing, Alagna Racing and The Bay’s Stable, has won four of 13 races and earned $246,028. She is coming off a win in the New York Sire Stakes championship.

“She’s had a phenomenal year,” Zeron said. “You’ll never have a horse that tries as hard as she does. She always tries to be right in the money – 1, 2, 3 – every week. Coming down to Lexington, Tony said she’s been great. We’ll hope for a big effort from her. She always seems to deliver.

“We didn’t draw that well, but she has tactical speed and hopefully we can forwardly place her.”

Beach Gal is the only non-Alagna horse Zeron will drive Saturday. Trained by Dave Menary, she has won three of 14 races and $227,127 for owners Kenneth Ewen, Hewvilla Farms, Denis Breton and Larry Menary.

“I drove her almost her whole two-year-old year; I know her really well,” Zeron said. “She’s a trip horse. You wouldn’t find a horse that could come off a helmet any faster than she could last year. I’m excited to go behind her.

“She’s had a very good year. We didn’t draw well, but maybe we can hope for some hot fractions or maybe I’ll try to get her out of there and hope for a second-over trip.”


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


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