10/09/2016 4:58PM

Red Mile: Marion Marauder becomes ninth Trotting Triple Crown champion

Derick Giwner
The connections of Marion Marauder are presented with the Trotting Triple Crown and Kentucky Futurity trophies

Prospects looked bleak before the $431,000 Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile for driver Scott Zeron.

“I saw what happened in an earlier race with the horses from post 11 and 12 getting away last and next to last,” said Zeron, aware that Marion Marauder could be in trouble.

But after the dust had settled, it was the other rivals that had more to fear as Marion Marauder rallied off fourth-over cover to nail favorite Southwind Frank on the wire and capture the Triple Crown of Trotting in the process.

It was a tactical race and perhaps Zeron got an assist from Team Takter as the previously-speedless Lagerfeld, starting from post two, left the gate hard, allowing his stablemate and second choice Bar Hopping to wedge out behind him from the second tier. Zeron sensed his moment and was quickly on the move.

“I glued my horse to the Tim’s (Tetrick driving Bar Hopping) helmet and followed the train,” said Zeron.

While Zeron was working his way into the race, favored Southwind Frank and Yannick Gingras were moving between horses out of the gate and another top choice, Sutton, was getting pushed wide and wider through a difficult first turn. Blenheim and driver John Campbell would make two moves to the lead just past the 28 1/5 opening quarter, and the outer flow was slow to develop as Tetrick and Bar Hopping waited outside of Southwind Frank for that one’s cover to develop.

By the half of 56 2/5, Gingras was able to flush out Love Matters and Brian Sears to take the attack to Blenheim. Sears moved out with patience as the three favorites followed him in order with Southwind Frank, Bar Hopping, and Marion Marauder in the outer tier.  Blenheim still held command at three-quarters in 1:25 1/5, but the pressure was turned up as Southwind Frank sprinted wide and Bar Hopping and Marion Marauder followed that move.

For much of the stretch, it appeared as if Southwind Frank would get the job done as the Ron Burke-trained colt dug in gamely, holding Bar Hopping at bay. But Marion Marauder was more determined and flew the final yards to score by a nose in 1:52 3/5 and become the first Triple Crown winner in 10 years.

Paula Wellwood trains Marion Marauder for owners Devin Keeling, her son, and Jean Wellwood, her mother. Originally ineligible for the Kentucky Futurity, the connections paid $47,261 to make Marion Marauder eligible, and he rewarded them for their confidence.

Marion Marauder paid $9.20 as the third choice, with Southwind Frank and Bar Hopping following him home in second and third. Early pacesetter Waitlifter K finished fourth with Love Matters fifth.