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Connections Discuss Atlanta Dispute

Published: February 13, 2019 2:51 pm ET

Last Comment: February 18, 2019 3:49 pm ET | 13 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

After having been announced that the 2018 Hambletonian-winning mare Atlanta is up for sale via public auction, behind the scenes information regarding the reason for the sale has now reached the industry.

The Rick Zeron-trained Atlanta was listed on an online auction website on Tuesday night (Feb. 12) with a starting bid of $500,000. As of press time for this article (3:00 p.m., Feb. 13), a bid of $775,000 had been placed for the talented mare. Bidding is scheduled to close on Friday (Feb. 15) at 1:00 p.m.

According to the listing, Atlanta is "selling to the highest bidder due to a true partnership dispute" with current owners listed as Rick Zeron, Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant. On January 9, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario issued Zeron a fine of $10,000 and suspension of 180 days, which he has since appealed. The owners’ statement on the online auction website states that, "After a well-deserved vacation, she (Atlanta) is back jogging at Sunshine Meadows in south Florida as she prepares for her 2019 campaign." The statement went on to explain that the now-four-year-old Chapter Seven mare is "staked to the world."

Atlanta, pictured winning the 2018 Hambletonian

A subsequent article by has shed light on the situation behind the sale. Brad Grant and Howard Taylor spoke with the publication and confirmed that Atlanta is indeed being sold by the owners to dissolve the partnership.

Atlanta was purchased as a yearling for $60,000 by Zeron, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant as equal 25-per-cent partners. Early last year, unbeknownst to the other partners, Zeron sold most of his interest to Crawford Farms, and retained only a five-per-cent interest in Atlanta.

In the piece, Grant has said that the partnership has “a five-per-cent partner that has to go,” and that “the only way to do it, since he thinks he owns and controls the horse and the rest of us are along for the ride, is to put her up for auction. And it’s an absolute shame.”

Hambletonian champion Atlanta, the first filly to capture the Hambletonian in 22 years with her 2018 victory, won eight races and more than $1 million this past season. The daughter of Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip never finished worse than third as a sophomore, and along with her coveted victory in the Hambo added wins in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, her Breeders Crown elimination, Empire Breeders Classic elimination and final and two New York Sires Stakes events to her resume. Atlanta will receive the Dan Patch Award as 2018's Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in the U.S on February 23.

Atlanta is currently with Zeron at his winter base at Sunshine Meadows in Florida. On Tuesday (Feb. 12), under the instruction of the 95-per-cent partners, trainer Tony Alagna went to Zeron’s barn and brought Atlanta back to his stable at Sunshine Meadows. Later on Tuesday, Zeron came and took back Atlanta.

“Ninety-five per cent of the ownership group wanted the horse moved,” Grant explained of the decision to move the filly to Alagna. “Rick can’t train the horse and race at (Woodbine Mohawk Park), he can’t race at the Gural group of tracks. This mare has a lot of races at those two venues (Mohawk and Meadowlands).

“We moved her to Tony’s barn and then Rick just came and got her. I told Tony don’t get into a confrontation. I just have a hard time understanding how a five-per-cent owner can get away with what he’s doing. Tony got the horse on the direction of the 95-percenters.”

According to Grant and Taylor, Zeron offered to sell his five per cent interest for $200,000. They declined, noting that the price would value the mare at $4 million.

“We couldn’t agree on a buyout, so we’ll see what the market brings,” said Taylor, noting the possibility of a breeding syndicate or European syndicate making a big bid. “My hope is to stay in (retain ownership), but if she brings enough, I guess I will sell.”

Grant agrees with Taylor.

“I’m not going to let her go cheap,” said Grant. “Four of us want to stay in, and depending on how it goes, I indicated to the partnership I’d like to keep the partnership going. We’ve agreed that if there is a (certain) price we’ll stay in. If it goes beyond that, then good luck to the next one.”

Grant said against the partnership’s wishes because of the uncertainty of ownership, Atlanta was fully staked this year by Zeron. Grant said the stakes payments are all pending, depending on the outcome of the auction.

Atlanta, pictured capturing the 2018 Kentucky Filly Futurity

When asked for comment, Zeron told Trot Insider the upcoming February stakes payment deadline was a factor in the decision to send Atlanta to auction, which offers prospective buyers the chance of a lifetime.

“As of yesterday (Feb. 12) we couldn’t agree on a price, and, due to February 15 being stakes payments, the only way to have her eligible to all the stakes was to sell,” Zeron told Trot Insider. “The owners agreed to buy her back at a certain price, but if she brings the type of interest I think she should then anyone can have her.”

Zeron went on to say that the auction site ( “is a global platform and the fact that a Hambletonian winner that is still in her prime is available for purchase is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

(With files from

February 18, 2019 - 3:49 pmAll I can say is what a sad

Gord Brown SAID...

All I can say is what a sad state of affairs. What should have been one of the happiest days of there lives has come to this. Unfortunately, probably none of these people will get another shot at winning the Hambo again. I understand Ron, you are a big Rick follower, as am I, but you couldn't be more incorrect - 95 always outweighs 5 in any walk of life. Best of luck to Ernie, Rick and Scott. And also best of luck to Michelle, Bill, Brad and Howard.

February 18, 2019 - 12:29 pmSounds like the Albatross

John Findley SAID...

Sounds like the Albatross saga.

February 17, 2019 - 11:07 amWhen 95% of the ownership

Don Patrick SAID...

When 95% of the ownership group agrees to Remove the horse from Zeron's care, how do you get to "horse theft" ?

February 17, 2019 - 9:14 amWhat's the big deal???? Mr

John Hill SAID...

What's the big deal????
Mr Zeron HAS been found guilty and sentenced by AGCO of committing a major offence, and the owners obliviously want to wash their hands of Mr Zeron. Your suggestion that the trainer has more say over the horse than the owners do is just plain wrong and I would like to know what rule says otherwise. If owners needed the trainer's permission to pull their horse there would never be trainer changes. The selling of shares is not the issue here.

February 16, 2019 - 7:47 pmRonald... ever hear of right

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Ronald... ever hear of right of first refusal or shotgun clause?

February 16, 2019 - 10:30 amHey you guys, it look's like

Hey you guys, it look's like to me you have already found the man guilty and sentenced him. That's not the way it works, you just do not go to a trainer's barn and take a horse out without the consent of the trainer,( that's horse theft), and that's the rule. If I own 25% of a horse and I want to sell 20% to someone that is a member in good standing with standard bred Canada and I set a price for those share and the purchaser agree's, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL???.Shares are being sold every second all over the world,I do not know, but is it written in the rule book that I have to have permission by Standard bred Canada to sell shares that I own, standard bred Canada does not own my shares.If I sell my shares for $1000.00 a share and the rest of you guys evaluate your shares at $15,000.00 a share, I am the looser, what"s the big deal.???. I loose and you win.

February 15, 2019 - 12:45 pmBenjamin, good advice. Go to

John Hill SAID...

Benjamin, good advice. Go to rules of standardbred racing, rule 6.46.01. If I am interpreting it correctly then I feel the penalty imposed is insufficient.

February 15, 2019 - 9:40 amSometimes appeals lead to

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Sometimes appeals lead to higher fines, penalties, and suspensions. I’ve never seen that in harness racing.

February 14, 2019 - 5:19 pmHi John, You can refer to

Hi John,

You can refer to this very SC website under 'Racing'.
Go to Fines and Suspensions, click on Archives for January.
Unfortunately, you will need your rule book to look up the long list of numbered rules he is alleged to have broken.
I agree it must be bad to warrant a $10,000 fine and six month suspension.

February 14, 2019 - 10:01 amI don't recall seeing exactly

John Hill SAID...

I don't recall seeing exactly what Rick Zeron was suspended and fined for, maybe I missed it, if someone could explain. It must have been bad for that type of punishment. No more cover ups let it be known that there is integrity in the industry. Appeals should be held within a week or two of being appealed to be fair to all others who abide by the rules, not when it's best for the offender or it's just business as usual as Mr Button stated.

February 13, 2019 - 11:52 pmAnything less than $1.3

Jim Brown SAID...

Anything less than $1.3 million would be a steal.

February 13, 2019 - 6:28 pmThe fact that the trainer can

bob tutton SAID...

The fact that the trainer can go down to Florida and continue training as if nothing happened seems unfair. Universal rule need to be applied. She is a classy filly. It is a shame.

February 13, 2019 - 3:18 should purchase should purchase the horse.

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