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"Dream Come True" For Wellwood

Published: January 13, 2017 7:15 pm ET

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The 2016 O'Brien Awards will be a family affair for the Wellwood-Keeling clan courtesy of three-year-old trotting colt Marion Marauder's dream season in 2016, highlighted by an historic achievement.

Marion Marauder, a winner of 10 of 15 starts, became the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner in 2016 -- and first since 2006 -- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. The son of Muscle Hill also won the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack and an added-distance division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial en route to a season in which he amassed more than $1.5 million in purses, topping the North American earnings charts for all trotters.

"My year with Marion Marauder was a dream come true," owner Jean Wellwood, of Stratford, Ont., told Trot Insider. "The highlight for me was winning the Hambletonian, a race I always wanted to win. It was an emotional and happy day for all of my family."

The Hambletonian was a race that eluded her late husband, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bill Wellwood, but Marion Marauder fulfilled the family's lifelong dream, winning the million-dollar final on August 6 at Meadowlands Racetrack by a nose in 1:51.4. The time of the mile was just one-fifth of a second off his lifetime mark, taken in an elimination heat.

Jean Wellwood and her 19-year-old grandson, Devin Keeling, share ownership of the standout trotting colt, who was trained by her daughter and son-in-law, Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling. The family relied upon Canadian native Scott Zeron throughout the season to steer him home a champion.

"I owe great gratitude to Paula, Mike and Scott -- they were a great team -- and of course, Marauder, who showed true grit in his races," noted Wellwood.

Marion Marauder is an O'Brien Award finalist in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year category along with Canadian Trotting Classic and Breeders Crown champion Bar Hopping from the Jimmy Takter stable. The winner will be announced at the annual Black Tie Gala for the Canadian harness racing awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.

"I was very pleased to get the call on Marauder's nomination for an O'Brien Award," said Wellwood. "It [would be] an honour to receive an O'Brien Award for me as Joe and Ilene were very dear friends for many years.

"I look forward to the evening. It is a spectacular event each year. My personal thank you to all the people who do all the work to make it such a spectacular evening!"

For a full list of O'Brien Award finalists, click here. For details about the Black Tie Gala and how to purchase tickets, click here.

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