Triple Crown champ Marion Marauder retired
October 23, 2020
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Marion Marauder, who won trotting’s Triple Crown in 2016, has been retired from racing. Mike Keeling, who trained the 7-year-old son of Muscle Hill in tandem with his wife, Paula Wellwood, made the announcement Friday morning that Marion Marauder’s career was over with 22 wins and $3,392,609 in purse earnings, the sixth most ever earned by a trotter in North America.
“After consultation with some top equine veterinarians, we have accepted that he will not be able to compete at the elite level,” said Keeling about the 3-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year in 2016 in both the US and Canada, and the US Older Male Trotter of the Year in 2017. “It is not without some emotion we make this announcement but we have been so proud and thankful for his accomplishments, he truly is the horse of a lifetime.”
Marion Marauder became the sport’s ninth Triple Crown trotting champion when he swept the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity. Marion Marauder was driven by Scott Zeron, who sat behind the trotter in 53 of his 69 career starts, the first being a second-place finish in the 2015 William Wellwood Memorial at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“He was very career developing for me, definitely on the trotting side,” said Zeron. “Up until that point, I had Michael’s Power and Artspeak that got me that Grand Circuit exposure. But I had never had that trotter that helped me turn that corner.
“And turning that corner at three, (Keeling and Wellwood) they told me they wanted to sustain a long 3-year-old season with him. I told them hopefully he’d be primed for the Hambletonian, because to me that meant everything. But they said, ‘You know what, there are a lot of big races, we don’t just have to prep him for the Hambletonian and that’s it.’ For me, that was really relaxing, that we didn’t have to win this race, this is the end all be all. To them, it was just hoping that he performs well every race and we don’t ever have to over-race him. It was just a matter of looking after the horse. Them and I meshed really well. And the horse and I got along great.”
Marion Marauder won the Hambletonian by a nose, the Yonkers Trot by a head, and the Triple Crown-clinching Kentucky Futurity by a head. He also won five other major stakes in photo finishes: the Hambletonian Maturity, the John Cashman Memorial, the Graduate final, the Goodtimes final and the Caesars Trotting Classic.
“To have won all those races we did, by the margins we did, you look back and think how fortunate you were that those photos went my way,” said Zeron. “It was just destined to be.”
Zeron said he believes the Kentucky Futurity win, where he started from the trailing 11 post, was the best of Marion Marauder’s career.
“His best race was the day in Kentucky when he won the Triple Crown,” said Zeron. “He had to overcome the post 11, surrounded by the 1, 2 and 12, which were (Jimmy) Takter’s. I immediately got behind (Takter’s) Bar Hopping and (Ron Burke’s) Southwind Frank was first-up. It was the perfect train. Southwind Frank was really good and Bar Hopping had a better trip than me being second-over, (Marion Marauder) had to trot home in 26 seconds that day so it was big. When I moved him over, I had no doubt that he wasn’t going to win.”
Marion Marauder made seven starts this year, with two wins, one of which was a career-best 1:50.2 effort at the Meadowlands. His last start came on Sept. 5 at Mohawk Park where he finished off the board in the Maple Leaf Trot.
Keeling said fertility tests have shown Marion Marauder will not have a breeding career. Keeling said the hope of all the connections, including owners Jean Wellwood (Paula’s mother) and Devin Keeling (he and Paula's son) is that Marion Marauder can be accepted by the Kentucky Horse Park.
“Unfortunately, his lack of fertility worsened with age and he is not able to breed,” said Keeling. “He is a member of the family and will have a home for life.
“We have reached out to the Kentucky Horse Park in hopes that he may live out his days in their Stable of Champions. He certainly has earned it.”