09/03/2016 10:42PM

Yonkers: Marion Marauder game in Yonkers Trot win

Mike Lizzi
Marion Marauder has now won the first two legs of the Trotting Triple Crown

The $500,000 Yonkers Trot provided onlookers with more drama than expected with Marion Marauder and Smalltownthrowdown battling nip and tuck to the wire in the 62nd edition of the trotting classic.

Smalltownthrowdown took his usual spot on the front but was quickly met by the heavily-favored Marion Marauder past the 29-second opening quarter. The pace continued to be slow, with middle fractions of 29 3/5 and 29 1/5 as Lagerfeld tried to advance on the rim.

While many likely expected the heavily-favored Marion Marauder to draw off in the stretch, the Hambletonian winner faced a stiff challenge from Smalltownthrowdown and driver Dan Daley up the passing lane. Driver Scott Zeron went to the whip to shake up his charge, and he refused to be beaten, lasting by a head as the 1-5 public choice. Lagerfeld wound up third in the 1:56 1/5 mile.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t anxious down the lane,” said Zeron, who won his first Yonkers Trot. “Dan’s horse was extraordinary tonight and gave me a great stretch duel, and I’m just happy my horse stuck his nose out at the wire.”

Having now won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Marion Marauder has an option to supplement to the Kentucky Futurity for a chance at earnings a special place I history. Speaking for wife and listed trainer Paula Wellwood, Mike Keeling made the possibly seem somewhat unlikely.

“It’s just way too early. We don’t even think of it because we wanted to win this first, and that is the way you have to operate in this business,” said Keeling. “The Kentucky Futurity is very interesting because it is a prestigious thing to win a Triple Crown for sure, but once again, it is putting likely double heats into him a week before the Breeders Crown elims. It is asking so much, so we just have to see how the horse is, read him and make out decisions based on what’s best for the animal.”

Up next for Marion Marauder is the Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk, which holds eliminations next weekend.

Owned by Marion Wellwood and Devin Keeling, Marion Marauder has won eight of 10 races this year and pushed his 2016 earnings over $1.1 million with the victory.