Hambletonian winner Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron, $2.60) made short work of his small-track debut, winning Saturday night’s lone $40,000 elimination for the 62nd Yonkers Trot.
"Marion," starting from post position three in a Yonkers Raceway game of musical chairs (nine to eliminate one), took things in his own hooves early. The 3-10 choice moved past first leader Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Daley), then had few issues (:29.2, :58.4, 1:28.1, 1:56.2).
The margin was a 1 1/4 lengths over "Smalltown," with Iron Mine Bucky (George Dennis) a drifting, three-hole third.
The real fun came in the back of the bus, when the second-tier Gleaming Memory (Ake Svanstedt) made an ugly break that directly wiped out Lagerfeld (Mark MacDonald), while any number of the trailers also broke, were impeded or were just plain outrun.
Steed (Brian Sears) was a best-of-the-rest fourth, with Hititoutofthepark (Corey Callahan), Cuffllink Hanover (Jason Bartlett), Celebrity Express (John Campbell) and Lagerfeld also earning berths into next Saturday’s (Sept. 3) $500,000 final. The open draw for the second jewel of Trotting Triple Crown is Tuesday morning (Aug. 30).
For Marion Marauder, a 3-year-old son of Muscle Hill trained by Paula Wellwood, who kept in the family for co-owners Marion Wellwood and Devin Keeling, it was his seventh win in nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $7.80, with the triple returning $22.60.
"I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way he trotted the half tonight," Zeron said. "I’m confident in his abilities to get the job done in the final."
"We just wanted him to get off the gate clean and command a race on a half-mile," Mike Keeling, husband of the winning trainer, said. "I think he showed everybody that he can do that. He steered great and he trotted well." (Yonkers)