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In Harness: Svanstedt, Zeron Win USHWA Trainer, Driver Of The Year Awards
By {USTA Communications}

USTA/Mark Hall

Scott Zeron nabbed the Driver of the Year accolades.

Harrisburg, PA — Ake Svanstedt, who seemed to have one (or sometimes more than one) of the top contenders in just about every major trotting stakes race in 2023 in North America, has been voted Trainer of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization.

During the same voting, Scott Zeron, nicknamed “The Money Man,” went over $10 million in earnings for the first time and was a “Perfect 10” from the number ten post in the Hambletonian at The Meadowlands and Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park with Tactical Approach, nabbing the Driver of the Year accolades.

It was the first title in this category for both horsemen, though Zeron was USHWA’s Rising Star in 2012. Both horsemen topped their 2023 group by a wide voting margin.

The 65-year-old Svanstedt came to North America from his native Sweden in 2014, and his stable has earned $52.5 million on “this side,” placing him in the top 20 since the USTA began keeping records in 1992, with only one of his rivals in the top 20 beginning their North American careers after 1998. And 2023 was the best year for trotters from the green and white stable, with $9.85 million in accumulated bankrolls, second only to the ubiquitous Ron Burke stable.

Breeders Crown trotting action at Hoosier Park showed Svanstedt trainees at their best, with four winners — Warrawee Michelle, Bond, Southwind Tyrion, and Jiggy Jog S in the six trotting events (and Ake guiding all but Jiggy Jog S). In all, Svanstedt sent 11 horses postward in the Crown competition, with two more finishing second. Svanstedt trainees also won all 11 divisions of the Simpson Stakes for trotters in which they raced this fall at Pocono.

In sum, 24 different horses won stakes of $100,000 or more for the barn, with 13 different diamond gaiters contributing to that circle of success. Jiggy Jog S was the barn’s richest performer with $1,038,486, and three stablemates joined her among the top ten money-winners among trotters.

Svanstedt’s team just missed $10 million in earnings; horses handled by the 34-year-old Zeron just eclipsed that figure for a personal best, pushing his career earnings just over $100 million.

As noted above, Zeron was “stuck behind the 10-ball” in two major stakes, starting from the outside in the Hambletonian and as a trailer in the Breeders Crown with Tactical Approach, but both times provided heady drives behind the major Trotter of the Year contender to get the money despite the unlucky draw.

He also won from post ten with Tactical Mounds in the $275,000 New Jersey Classic 3TF final.

Tactical Approach was the leading money-winning trotter of 2023 with $1,507,989 amassed. Zeron guided him in every one of his races, as he did with another millionaire, the sophomore pacer It’s My Show ($1,073,334). That one first won the North America Cup and then the Little Brown Jug, in the latter contest completing a sweep of the Delaware (OH) classics for himself and trainer Linda Toscano after Ucandoit Blue Chip had won the Jugette.

All that picture posing in Victory Lane helped Zeron garner 107 ballots, most of any two-legged creature in the voting cycle.

Åke Svanstedt and Scott Zeron will be honored at the annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, presented by Caesars Entertainment, to be held Sunday (Feb. 25) at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla.

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