Mariner Seelster Becomes A Millionaire At Age 15

Mariner Seelster winning at The Meadowlands
Published: February 10, 2024 02:04 am EST

In a harness racing rarity, 15-year-old pacer Mariner Seelster celebrated victory on Friday evening, Feb. 9 at The Meadowlands and the achievement put him over the million-dollar mark in career earnings.

Racing in a Meadowlands Amateur Drivers Club event for his 437th career start, the Ontario-bred pacer topped eight rivals that were five to 10 years younger, winning by more than five lengths in 1:53 flat with Tony Beltrami in the sulky.

Beltrami and Mariner Seelster looped a pair of early leavers after the :27.4 first quarter to take the lead. As Beltrami gave the veteran pacer a breather to the half in :57, Kick The Dirt Up rushed up to challenge. Headed briefly down the backstretch, Mariner Seelster fought back on the way to three-quarters in 1:25.2 and left his rivals in the dust. 

The victory was his 71st lifetime with the lion's share of the $15,541 purse sending his career earnings to $1,005,029.

Bred by Seelster Farms Inc. of Lucan, Ont., the Camluck-M T Freedom gelding is currently trained by Travis Alexander for owners Fiddlers Creek Stables, Alexander Racing Stable, D Elegance Stable Ix and T L P Stable.

Mariner Seelster was the 2-1 favourite and paid $6.20 to win. Early leader Elm Grove Qwiggly re-emerged with a three-wide move down the backstretch to win the race for place over Aintnobettor A and Valor.

Buddy Earl wins Friday feature

Things didn’t go as hoped, but as it turned out, that didn’t matter, as Buddy Earl racked up a second straight score, taking the evening's featured $20,270 mid-range conditioned trot.

Dave Miller, the U.S. Hall of Famer who currently sits atop The Big M driver standings, made Plan B work to get the four-year-old gelded son of Father Patrick-Nixie Volo his seventh lifetime score in 32 tries.

“My plan was to go ahead and leave but the whole field left inside of me,” said Miller. “But the trip worked out really well for us. We had live cover.”

With the field of nine leaving in a straight line, Miller and Buddy Earl had to take back to seventh around the first turn as Conrad DiPoggio IT had the lead at the quarter in :27.4 while 8-5 favourite Outside The Fire raced alongside that one before taking the point.

The action continued to the half as King Alphonso, in search of a second straight score, took over at the half in :56.1. Mon Amour was up and out of the three-hole at that point and raced on the rim while making progress first-over as Buddy Earl picked up a live tow as three-quarters was reached in 1:25.4.

Miller tipped Buddy Earl off his cover soon after the field straightened up in the stretch and gradually made his way past King Alphonso on the way to an easy 1-1/4-length win in 1:53.2, just a fifth of a second off his lifetime best. Some Chapter, the 9-5 second choice, fired late to grab second with King Alphonso holding third.

“He’s just so sharp right now I can race him anyway I want to,” said Miller. “Hopefully, he can hold his form and keep it into the summer.”

Buddy Earl, a Richard Johnson trainee owned by Cathy Curly-Bonney and Ross Bonney, paid $10.60 to win as the 4-1 third choice in the wagering.

Miller’s three winners led the driver colony and upped his 2024 Big M total to 20.

The 20-cent Pick-8 failed to yield a winning ticket for a fifth straight card, upping the carryover to $8,355 for Saturday.

Despite a sequence that began with a 3-5 and a 2-5 shot, the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 returned $879.88. Five favourites emerged victorious among the seven dashes.

All-source handle totalled $3,063,392, the eighth time in 10 cards this year that betting has bust the $3-million barrier. 

Todd McCarthy returns to action Saturday night after his winter vacation. Racing resumes on Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

(Standardbred Canada & Meadowlands Racetrack)