06/11/2017 3:41PM

Tioga Downs: Marion Marauder serves notice in first seasonal start

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Fred J. Brown
Marion Marauder put forth a strong performance in his first start of his 4-year-old campaign

Marion Marauder became the first Trotting Triple Crown winner to score a victory at age four since Lindy's Pride in 1970 when he claimed the second of two $50,000 divisions of the third leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters on Sunday afternoon at Tioga Downs in 1:52 4/5.

The other split went to Trolley in 1:52 1/5, which tied the all-age track record at the Nichols, New York, five-eighths mile oval.

Marion Marauder, who was making his first start of 2017, got away in the fourth spot from post one for regular driver Scott Zeron, and he would watch as Dia Monde (Jody Jamieson) and heavy favorite Dayson (Yannick Gingras) took turns on the lead through an opening-half of 28 2/5 and 57.  Zeron would send Marion Marauder first-over beyond the half, and he quickly advanced against Dayson, joining him on the front at the 1:25 1/5 three-quarters.

Marion Marauder would overtake and put away Dayson on the far turn, and then he kept a bid by Dia Monde at bay through the lane, winning by just over a length.  Cufflink Hanover (Jason Bartlett) came in third.

"Just thrilled to get that off our chest and to get him started off," said Mike Keeling, the husband of winning trainer Paula Wellwood.  "Scott said he was very good.  It worked out to be just a perfect trip.  He's the best horse I've ever been around, but speed doesn't mean as much as heart and desire."

Wellwood trains Marion Marauder, a Muscle Hill colt, for her mother Jean Wellwood and son Devin Keeling.  Marion Marauder scored his 12th career victory, and he has now earned $1,791,518.  He was sent off as the 2-1 second choice, and he paid $6.60 to win.

Back in the opening flight, Double L Lindy (Ake Svanstedt) took the group of five to the first quarter in 27 3/5, but Trolley (Marcus Miller) moved out of third to challenge him past that marker.  Svanstedt would make the 6-5 favorite work to clear him, though, stretching him out to just before the 54 4/5 half.

Trolley was still on top at the 1:23 4/5 three-quarters, but Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory), the 9-5 second choice, was challenging him from first-over.  Their battle continued around the far turn and into the stretch, but Trolley would not yield, and he would go on to defeat Tight Lines by a length and a quarter.  Double L Lindy would finish third.

"He was awesome today," said Miller.  "Ake stung us pretty good to the half.  He was making sure our horse was good enough.  Down the lane I was just coasting, and he was well under wraps.  It was a big mile, but he did it easy enough.

"There's some really nice horses, but I think we stamped ourselves as one that is definitely one of the favorites."

Trolley is a Donato Hanover colt trained by Erv Miller for the ownership group of Paymaq Racing, Leland Mathias, Greg Gillis, and Louis Willinger.  He is now a four-time winner from 11 lifetime starts, and he has banked $223,437.  Trolley returned $4.60 to win.