SPORTS

Captaintreacherous installed as early 2-1 favourite for North America Cup

06/11/2013 01:23 EDT | Updated 08/11/2013 05:12 EDT
CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. - Scott Zeron is putting it all on his shoulders.

Zeron will drive Vegas Vacation in the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. And if the horse isn't in the winner's circle Saturday night, then the 24-year-old resident of Oakville, Ont., won't have to look far for the reason why.

"I truly believe I have the winning horse," Zeron said Tuesday during the Cup draw at Mohawk. "I think it's up to me to map out that winning trip."

Captaintreacherous was named the early 2-1 favourite for the world's richest pacing event and will start from the No. 4 spot. Zeron will certainly be able keep tabs on North America's 2012 champion two-year-old pacer, taking 5-2 second choice Vegas Vacation from the No. 2 hole.

"It's a spot where I can change my mind at any second leaving that gate," Zeron said. "I know Fool Me Once (4-1 third choice starting in No. 3 hole), I've driven that horse plenty of times this year and know what he's capable of and that his greatest attribute is leaving the gate.

"Captaintreacherous, ideally, I'd like to have him a tad in front of me and hopefully he doesn't make that power move. It's all going to depend on that first eighth of a mile, who's leaving the gate, where we're going to get away and situate ourselves."

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner served as guest drawmaster Tuesday. Ten horses will chase the $500,000 winner's share.

The three Cup elimination races were held Saturday to determine the field. Captaintreacherous, Vegas Vacation and Fool Me Once all won their respective races.

Captaintreacherous comes in as the horse to beat. The son of 2008 Cup champion Somebeachsomewhere is perfect in two starts this year and has never finished out of the money (10 wins, one second, one third).

He's also the field's leading money winner with $967,570 in earnings. Captaintreacherous will be handled by American Tim Tetrick, North America’s top driver last year who is seeking his first Cup win.

But Canadian-owned Vegas Vacation has won all four of his races this year and trainer Casie Coleman has not only been named Canada's top conditioner five times but captured the 2010 North America Cup with Sportswriter. Zeron, the son of veteran driver/trainer Rick Zeron, has amassed over 2,000 career victories and nearly $27 million in earnings since he started driving in 2007.

"The start is crucial, it's the entire race," Scott Zeron said. "We have to map out our ideal trip and I know my horse and what he's capable of doing.

"If I can work out a trip where I can follow a horse ahead of the lane I know my horse will give me everything."

Fool Me Once, another Canadian-owned horse driven by veteran Sylvain Filion of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, Que., posted the fastest elimination-winning time Saturday. The horse's career-best effort of 1:48.1 earned it a two-length win over Wake Up Peter.

"The one thing with the top time is it gives you a little bit of respect going into the final," said trainer and co-owner Mark Austin of Fergus, Ont. "It shows the other connections that your horse can go so they give you a little bit more respect."

Austin also concedes Captaintreacherous is the top horse in the field but says the champion pacer isn't unbeatable.

"Definitely, he's the king of the hill right now and everybody's going to try to knock him off," Austin said. "I think he's got a few kinks in his armour . . . that's why we go out and race these animals."

And Austin likes having Fool Me Once start from the No. 3 hole.

"When the gate comes off the turn, with the No. 1 and No. 2 horse sometimes the gate comes back a bit into their face so the No. 3 and No. 4 holes seem to be best place to leave from," he said. "The ideal trip is to get to the front and stay there but there are nine other guys thinking the same thing.

"The biggest thing is being able to give your horse a little breather somewhere in the race. If you can't get that breather someplace in the race they usually can't get the job done."

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