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Marion Marauder Done For 2017

Published: November 18, 2017 5:06 pm ET

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Following a 10-start campaign through his four-year-old season, Marion Marauder, trotting Triple Crown winner and earner of over $2.6-million, has been shut down for the year, and is planned to comeback in 2018 as a five-year-old.

"Going into the season, we decided we were only going to race him 10 starts max," trainer Mike Keeling said. "We've seen people over-race their horses at four, and then they maybe flatten out at five, and we're trying to do everything right with him. I think it was wise to stick to that - he's had a great season."

Marion Marauder, owned by Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling, capped his four-year-old campaign with three wins and $770,120 in earnings, winning a prelim and the $240,000 Graduate Final and the $458,750 Hambletonian Maturity. He was also second in the $303,050 John Cashman Jr. Memorial, $1,000,000 International Trot, and his Breeders Crown elimination. The $526,500 Breeders Crown final was his last start of the year, finishing third.

"We're really proud and thrilled with him," Keeling said. "He's shown he can compete with the best, and he also showed that distance races suits his style better than sprint races."

The only flub in Marion Marauder's season was an eighth-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot elimination, which Keeling later found out was the result of sickness, sidelining him until the International Trot a month later.

"We didn't know it, but he was sick," Keeling said. "He also followed Resolve, so Scott thought he was getting a great trip, but Resolve was as sick as 'Marauder' was, and they both basically took themselves out of the race. Other than that, it was about a four-week period where his blood work wasn't good and he was fighting some allergies."

Keeling plans to turn out Marion Marauder for about two months at their winter base in North Carolina. He'll be staked to most of the free-for-all stakes in North America, but will likely make his first start on the continent with the John Cashman Jr. Memorial in August following a possible campaign in Europe.

"We think the European style of racing would suit him, and we want to experience as much as we can, so we're open to anything," Keeling said. "We just need to understand the system over there and get some information. It's the kind of thing you don't want to go into half blind; I know it's a different system over there."

Once Keeling and his wife, Paula Wellwood, decided to race Marion Marauder as an aged horse, the pair planned to race Marion Marauder in Europe once he developed more through his four-year-old season.

"You hope they can make the jump and compete in the four-year-old year - you're always keying on the five-year-old year to make a statement of some sort," Keeling said. "I've always trained him distances, anyway; he always showed high-speed early, so we've never had to train him speed wise. In some weird way, we might have been preparing him for this over the last three years.

The current plan for Marion Marauder's 2018 season is to have him ready in time for the Elitlopp if the opportunity permits. He would likely have one start in Europe prior to the Elitlopp, and would be ready to race and qualify by May 1.

"He's the horse of a lifetime, and we're getting to do things not many people get the chance to do. As long as he'll take us, we'll go with him."

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