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Cherishing the moments with 'Marauder'
Monday, January 08, 2018 - by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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Ken Weingartner
Hightstown, NJ --- It is only January, but trainer Mike Keeling is looking forward to another season of racing Marion Marauder.

A 5-year-old trotter, Marion Marauder is in the midst of an almost three-month vacation in North Carolina, but the two-time Dan Patch Award winner will return to work soon in preparation for his 2018 campaign. And, oh, the places he might go.

Keeling and wife Paula Wellwood, who share training duties of the family-owned horse, are exploring the possibilities of racing Marion Marauder in Europe and would enjoy seeing the stallion receive the opportunity to compete in Sweden’s Elitlopp in May.

“We would love to,” Keeling said. “We think he deserves the opportunity. We think it fits his racing style. It’s just a matter of us understanding the European system and making the right contacts. I hate going into things blind and learning as I go. For us, it’s more about having a clear understanding what we have to do. We’re trying to prepare ourselves as much as prepare him.

Lisa photo
Marion Marauder has won 14 times in his career, with $2.53 million in earnings.

“We’re just trying to map out a schedule for him that makes the most sense and gives us a chance to maybe try some things that we’ve never done before. We have to find a schedule that makes sense and maximizes his earning potential, of course, but also maybe his exposure on the world stage.”

Marion Marauder, who was the 2016 Trotter of the Year, won three of 10 races last year and earned $769,182 on his way to receiving the Dan Patch Award for the sport’s best older male trotter. His victories included the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series championship and he was second in the Yonkers International Trot.

He is owned by Devin Keeling and Marion Jean Wellwood. Scott Zeron is the horse’s regular driver.

In 2016, Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and became the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner -- and first since 2006 -- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity.

Marion Marauder joined Moni Maker, CR Kay Suzie, Pine Chip, Peace Corps, and Mack Lobell as trotters in the last 30 years to receive Dan Patch honors the year after a Trotter of the Year campaign.

“We’re always happy when he gets recognized,” Keeling said. “We knew it was probably going to be contentious because of him being a 4-year-old and there will always be naysayers one way or the other. There is a reason he was invited to the International Trot and other ones weren’t. We think he’s world class and I think he gets recognized for that when he needs to be.”

Although Marion Marauder finished last season with a third-place finish in the Breeders Crown Open Trot, his connections were happy with the way he completed the campaign while making the transition from a 3-year-old to 4.

“Scott said after the Breeders Crown, it wasn’t the trip he wanted, or the trip we needed, but it was the soundest and straightest the horse had been all year,” Keeling said. “It was a great accomplishment that he made the leap from 3 to 4 and finished the year off probably better than what he started.

“He’s becoming more versatile,” Keeling added. “I think he understands the whole thing a little more. He’s a little more relaxed. His idiosyncrasies have become less of an issue.”

Marion Marauder’s transformation has continued this winter.

“You can see a change in him physically, which is really exciting to me,” Keeling said. “He’s looking more like an aged horse. They get a little harder, they get a little more square, and that’s what I’m seeing in him. I can’t wait to get him back in the barn. He’s fun to work with and we’re just so privileged to have him.

“There is a lot of excitement about his potential. But we understand that there’s thinking about doing it and then there’s achieving it. We have all those stages to go through. But we’re very fortunate to be in this position and we’re going to cherish every moment.”

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