Going into the 93rd edition of the $1 million Hambletonian the big question was: Could the girl beat the boys?
The answer is an emphatic yes.
Trained by Rick Zeron and driven by his son Scott Zeron, Atlanta (2-1), the only filly in the prestigious race for 3-year-old trotters, wired the field of nine colts in 1:50 4/5. Mets Hall finished a length behind the filly in second, while Tactical Landing was third.
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve got no words,” a tearful Rick Zeron said. “When I seen Scott open up around the last turn I knew that he had her in hand and I knew that coming down the lane she wasn’t going to let us down today and neither was Scott.”
This was an inaugural Hambo win for Rick Zeron and a second for Scott, who won with Marion Marauder in 2016.
Atlanta returned $6.40 to win and became the 14th filly in Hambletonian history to win the event.
“She’s the best horse I’ve ever drove,” Scott Zeron said. “The mile just got away from me and I was really mad at myself for letting her take advantage of that and get a little weak on the end. That’s not the way I wanted to head into the final. But I said, If she was a champion she would bounce back and she did.”
Earlier, it was a happy birthday for driver Yannick Gingras as he won one-for-the-thumb in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
Winning his fifth straight Oaks, Gingras drove Manchego to a wire-to-wire victory in a stakes-record time of 1:50 over Phaetosive. Plunge Blue Chip was third.
This was also a fifth straight victory in the race for 3-year-old fillies for Manchego’s trainer Jimmy Takter.