Zeron looking for two straight Hambletonian race wins
He’s hoping do it tonight with International Moni
Phil Bridges has stepped down from the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals.
Bridges served as executive director and governor of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) team for the past two seasons.
“It was a difficult decision,” said Bridges, who has served the franchise in a number of capacities over the years, in a media release issued by the Caps on Thursday morning. “I initially committed for two years, and really enjoyed being involved with the Capitals.
“However, it just came down to what was best for me personally at this stage of my career, so I decided to return to my position at the P.E.I. Youth Centre, where I have worked for 27 years, before taking this position with the Capitals.
“I know how important the Capitals are to this community. I really enjoyed working with the sponsors and getting to know the supporters, like the season-ticket holders, again.
“I want to thank the staff, the volunteers, the owners, sponsors and everyone involved in operating the Western Capitals for their support over the past years.”
Capitals vice-president Mike James explained Bridges’s role as executive director: “Phil was in charge operationally from the business side of our team. He obviously worked very closely with (general manager) Pat (McIver) and his team. The day-to-day operations of the team, that was Phil’s job.
“We totally understand that Phil wanted to go back to the youth centre. It was his personal decision, and we fully support him.”
James said the Caps will “look internally and see if we can share the duties amongst some of the owners and some of the hockey operations staff” in addressing how Bridges’s role will be filled.
James did confirm that Jordan Ellis has assumed the role of governor.
The Caps, based out of Credit Union Place, will be entering the franchise’s 37th year of operation.
In other team news, the Caps, who earlier this week signed 17-year-old forward Thomas Harper, have inked defenceman Matt Templeman for the 201718 season.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long while,” said Templeman in a media release issued by the Caps. “I am excited to get things going, and be a troop for #CapsArmy.”
Templeman, who is from Goulds, N.L., was the Capitals’ first territorial selection in the 2017 draft.
Last season, the 17-yearold Templeman recorded six goals and 24 assists in 28 games with the Southern Shore Breakers of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League.
“We’re very excited to sign and draft Matt,” said Capitals general manager Pat McIver. “He is an offensive defenceman, who hopefully will help our power play this season.
The Caps are heading into their 37th season of operation. The Caps open regular-season play on the road Sept. 16, and host the Woodstock Slammers in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m.
Season-ticket and game-day ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.
Scott Zeron has a shot at becoming the first person in almost three decades to drive consecutive winners in the Hambletonian.
Hall of Famer John Campbell was the last driver to win trotting’s biggest race in consecutive years when he when guided Mack Lobell and Armbro Goal to the victory in 1987-88.
Zeron got Marion Marauder to the winner’s circle last year and is looking to get International Moni there on Saturday in the $1 million race at the Meadowlands.
International Moni, who is undefeated in three starts this year, is the 5-2 morning line favourite in the first elimination. Devious Man is the 5-2 favourite in the second elimination.
The top five horses in the eliminations, which drew 19 entries, qualify for the final.
While many of the top drivers in harness racing compete at the Meadowlands, Zeron said much goes into winning a Hambletonian.
“I like to think the best 3-yearold trotting colts win the Hambletonian and to have that in consecutive years, let alone more than once, is very difficult,” said the 28-year-old Montreal native. “I don’t take what I have this year for granted. To have a competitive horse is a big deal regardless of it being in consecutive years.”
International Moni has made major strides for trainer Frank Antonacci, whose family or Lindy Racing have been involved in the ownership of five Hambletonian winners: Lindy’s Pride (1969), Speedy Crown (1971), Probe (1989), Harmonious (1990) and Victory Dream (1994).
The colt won 1 of 12 starts last year and finished second or third in seven other races.
“If you speak the trainer, Antonacci, he would tell you he was just a little under-developed physically we would say,” said Zeron, who won the Meadowlands driving title last year. “He took his time with him. He was developing him more mentally and (the colt) got stronger as the year went on. You can see that in his race lines. He just got better and better.
“We were very happy with the way he finished off that year, and we’re definitely not shocked with the form he has come back this year.”
This year’s Hambletonian is a wide open race following the withdrawal of Walner. Last year’s best 2-year-trotter, the colt is sidelined with a minor injury.
The goal for the 19 horses will be to get to the final. The winners of the eliminations can pick their starting post for the final, choosing from spots 1-5. The rest of the field is determined by a draw.
“You really do want to win the race but you would like to win it and not use every ounce of your horse,” said Zeron, who last year become the youngest driver to win a harness racing Triple Crown. “As a driver it is a fine line between one or the other.”
The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network. The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-yearold female trotters will be part of the 90-minute broadcast.
The field for the first elimination in post position order with odds:
Southwind Woody, 12-1; Bill’s Man, 5-1; Guardian Angel, 10-1; Giveitgasandgo, 8-1; International Moni, 5-2; Stealth Hanover, 30-1; Victor Gio, 6-1; Long Tom, 3-1 and Jake, 8-1.
The field for the second elim: What The Hill, 3-1; Seven And Seven, 8-1; Sortie, 10-1; Shake It Off Lindy, 20-1; Dover Dan, 8-1; Enterprise, 9-2; Southwind Cobra, 15-1; Achille Duharas, 20-1; Devious Man, 5-2 and Perfect Spirit, 12-1.