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Keeling On Hambletonian Victory

Published: August 15, 2016 10:58 am ET

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The plan was for Jean Wellwood to buy a horse to share with her grandson and hopefully help him pay his way through school. That plan, through hard work and perhaps some karma and serendipity, has worked for university tuition and then some.

Devin Keeling is in his second year at McMaster University working toward a degree in gerontology. After an award-winning high school football resume, he's also a linebacker for the McMaster Marauders.

At the age of 19, he's now one of the youngest owners to ever lift the Hambletonian trophy after Marion Marauder's emotional win on August 6.

"It was just all emotion," Keeling told the Hamilton Spectator. "My grandma was just speechless."

The story of the Wellwood family's quest for harness racing's holy grail is well documented. Patriarch Bill won many of the sport's major races, many more than once, but the Hambletonian eluded him. Bill's daughter Paula and husband Mike Keeling had entered the Hambo previously, and also denied as well.

Those years of frustration vanished in less than two minutes when Marion Marauder captured the 91st Hambletonian, holding off Southwind Frank and Bar Hopping.

According to Keeling, the look in his mother's eyes when she was handed the trophy, "was something I've never seen.

"My dad was, oh my God, my dad worked for my grandpa and had a couple of horses he trained for him in the races before that we tried to win," he said. "So this one was just special and it was just something words can't explain."

The next race for Marion Marauder is the Colonial, set for Saturday (August 20) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

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