By Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
Marion Marauder returned to the winner’s circle at the Meadowlands Racetrack, site of his Hambletonian victory last August, on Saturday night thanks to a 1:51.2 triumph in the $240,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old trotters. Warrawee Roo, sent off at 59-1, finished second, beaten by three-quarters of a length, and Dayson was third.
In the $240,000 Graduate Series final for 4-year-old pacers, 6-5 favorite Sintra followed the cover of Check Six around the last turn before bursting through the stretch to win by 4-1/2 lengths over Boston Red Rocks in 1:47.2. Western Fame finished third.
For Marion Marauder, who became the first Trotting Triple Crown winner to compete at the Meadowlands as a 4-year-old, it was his second win in three starts this season. Last year Marion Marauder swept the Triple Crown --- the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity --- on his way to being named Trotter of the Year.
Marion Marauder, the 4-5 favorite in the Graduate, and driver Scott Zeron started from post nine and were fifth through the opening half mile, but started a first-over march on the backstretch to overcome fraction-setting Trolley at the top of the stretch. Marion Marauder, who lowered his career mark by one-fifth of a second, paid $3.80 to win.
“He’s come back better than we expected,” said Mike Keeling, who trains Marion Marauder with his wife Paula Wellwood. “He was in great form that first start at Tioga (winning in 1:52.4) and we were just pleased to come down here and get in the final. He was pretty impressive tonight.”
Marion Marauder, a son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Spellbound Hanover, has won 13 of 31 career races and earned $1.9 million in purses for owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling.
Next up for Marion Marauder, who bypassed the breeding shed to continue racing this year, will be the Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands on July 15.
“It was the easiest tough decision we’ve ever made,” Keeling said about continuing Marion Marauder’s racing career. “We never really said goodbye to him last fall and bringing him back was something we really wanted to do. We just felt compelled to try the stallion route, but he loves racing and we love racing him.”
In the Graduate final for pacers, Western Fame, Lyons Snyder and Dr J Hanover all took turns on the front as the field reached the first quarter in :26.3, half in :53.2 and three-quarters in 1:20.4. Check Six battled with Dr J Hanover for the lead on the last turn, but Sintra was in striking position.
“I thought I had the best horse, I just had to find the right spot with him,” winning driver Jody Jamieson said. “It worked out good. I got to follow a live helmet, I almost ran over Yannick (Gingras with Check Six) at the head of the stretch I was so live. This horse just keeps bailing me out every time I get to sit behind him.
“The sky is the limit. This horse has just been a champ ever since I started driving him. Last year Betting Line got the better of us most every time, but he’s had another year to develop and he showed it tonight, wrapped up in (1):47.2. Simply amazing from where I was sitting.”
Sintra, who paid $4.60 to win, is trained by Dave Menary for owners Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and Menary Racing. He has won six of eight races this year and earned $209,202. For his career, the son of Mach Three out of Dancin Barefoot has won 14 of 27 starts and banked $445,762.