Draws complete for Trotting Classic, Maple Leaf
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Hambletonian champion Marion Marauder made a triumphant return to his home track in the first Canadian Trotting Classic elimination. The Mike Keeling and Paula Wellwood stable star scored an impressive four length victory in 1:52.
Driven by Scott Zeron, Marion Marauder got away third and was pushed to the front in the second-quarter to front the field by the half in :55.4. Around the final turn, Waitlifter K pressed at the heavy-favorite first up and was just three-quarters of a length from the lead at third marker in 1:24.1. In the stretch, Marion Marauder flicked aside his challenger and pulled away confidently to win in 1:52.
"He's an amazing animal," said Zeron post-race. "Hats off to Mike (Keeling) and Paula (Wellwood) for keeping him this well conditioned throughout the schedule he's had this year. To put up performances like this week in and week out, it's amazing."
Winter Harbor, who originally got away seventh, made a big third-quarter move and trotted home well to finish second to Marion Marauder. Tony Soprano finished third, while Waitlifter K and Brooklyn Hill rounded out the top five to advance to next week's final.
Marion Marauder is in the midst of an incredible three-year-old season. The son of Muscle Hill has earned over $1.1 million this season with signature victories in the Goodtimes and Yonkers Trot to go along with his Hambletonian title.
"I was thrilled with him tonight," said Keeling, who noted it was a short week for his colt after racing last Saturday in the Yonkers Trot. "Coming off a half (mile track) we didn't know how he was going to be and he was just tremendous. I couldn't believe the start tonight, he was great."
Owned by Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling, Marion Marauder has won nine of 11 starts this season to bring his career totals to 10 wins and over $1.5 million earned. Marion Marauder paid $2.40 to win.
In the second elimination, Bar Hopping delivered a large effort to win in 1:52.4 over Southwind Frank.
The public's support was fully behind Southwind Frank, who was making his first start since capturing the Colonial on August 20th, but the talented son of Muscle Hill just didn't have his usually best on Saturday.
Bee In Charge shot off the wings of the gate to grab early command ahead of Bar Hopping and posted an opening-quarter of :27.1. Southwind Frank got his cue to quickly move from third to first entering the backstretch and led the group by the half in :55.3.
Bar Hopping was trotting along third on the far turn when driver Tim Tetrick angled him to the outside to start gaining ground towards the lead. Southwind Frank got a :28.3 third-quarter to lead the field into the stretch, but didn't have a lot to offer in the lane. Bar Hopping trotted home with powerful strides on the far outside to blow by Bee In Charge and ultimately Southwind Frank to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
"I just wanted to be close and try not to do any work in the middle and keep him brave," said Tetrick following the victory. "I felt confident (turning for home), my horse was still trotting really easy and had plenty of trot left.
"You never know about (Southwind) Frank, he's a great animal and I know he struggles a little bit in the turns, but most of the time he just takes right back off, but my horse got him today."
Southwind Frank held off Bee In Charge by half a length for second, while Warrawee Roo and Dia Monde rounded out the top five to advance to the final.
Bar Hopping, now has four wins in 12 starts this season for earnings of $456,310. He is trained by Jimmy Takter for owners Christina Takter, Hatfeld Stables, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.
Also a son of Muscle Hill, Bar Hopping finished fifth in the Hambletonian Final after winning his elimination. The three-year-old trotting colt now has five career wins to bring his earnings total to $557,548.
Bar Hopping paid $10 to win.
The Maple Leaf Trot eliminations featured a European flavour, a couple of mares and the best older trotters around.
Resolve, who finished second in last year's event, was a gate to wire winner in the first elimination for driver John Campbell and trainer Ake Svanstedt.
The five-year-old son of Muscle Hill was scheduled to be driven by his trainer in Saturday's elimination, but a travel issue prevented Svanstedt from making it to Mohawk.
Resolve was put on the front by Campbell and posted an opening-quarter of :27.2 before catching a :28.4 breather in the second panel. Five-year-old mare Shake It Cerry was sent first up from fourth on the far turn, while Resolve stretched out his lead to two lengths at the three-quarter pole in 1:24.2.
In the stretch, Campbell pushed the go button on Resolve and the Svanstedt trainee trotted home with powerful strides in :26.4 for a 1:51.1 victory. Shake It Cerry was just less than two lengths back in second, while Lookslikeachpndale was third.
"He's pretty push button," said Campbell about Resolve. "He's been a great horse the last two years and been overseas and comeback and it's just a testament to what a great horse he is."
Campbell noted he wasn't given any instructions for during the race with Resolve, but rather for scoring down.
"The guy that takes care of said it was more important how I scored him down than the race," said Campbell. "He said you can do whatever you want in the race, but there was some instructions on how to score him down, but after that he was push button."
Owned by Hans Enggren, Resolve picked up his third win of the season in his ninth outing Saturday. The Svanstedt trainee competed in the Elitlopp earlier this season in Sweden.
Resolve will enter the Maple Leaf Trot Final with 13 career wins and over $1.4 million in earnings. He paid $3.10 to win.
Hannelore Hanover continued her dream season with an easy-looking victory in the second Maple Leaf Trot elimination.
The Ron Burke trainee was supplemented for $45,000 to this year's Maple Leaf Trot and earned back $20,000 for her connection with the elimination victory.
Driven by Yannick Gingras, Hannelore Hanover sat third while letting the dust settle between JL Cruze and Windsun Revenge. After an opening-quarter of :27, Hannelore Hanover got her cue to move to the front and led the field by the half in :55.1.
Il Sogno Dream came first up from fourth on the far turn, but there was never an anxious moments for Hannelore Hanover, who got to three-quarters in 1:24.1. The Burke trainee finished off the victory by cruising home in :28.1.
Il Sogno Dream finished 3 ¼ lengths back in second, while Windsun Revenge was third.
Swedish trotter Nahar, who is owned by Daniel & Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, followed Il Sogno Dream around the final turn and ultimately finished fourth to qualify for the final.
JL Cruze faded back to finish fifth, but did qualify for next week's rich final.
A daughter of Swan For All, Hannelore Hanover improved her 2016 record to 14 wins from 15 starts with her Maple Leaf Trot elimination score.
"I got a good third-quarter breather and I just let her trot a little bit in the stretch, but the plugs were still in and she had something left in the tank," said Gingras, who was thrilled the connections opted to supplement ‘Hannelore'.
"$45,000 is a lot of money, but I thought she deserved a shot and ultimately they came to the conclusion she did."
Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Frank Baldachino, Hannelore Hanover is now a 23-time winner with over $1 million in career earnings.
She paid $2.10 to win.
The post positions for the $687,000 Canadian Trotting Classic and the $632,000 Maple Leaf Trot were drawn following Saturday's elimination.
Both finals will take place next Saturday (September 17). Post time is 7:30 p.m.
Here are the post positions for next week's finals.
$687,000 Canadian Trotting Classic
$632,000 Maple Leaf Trot