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Marion Marauder's Miscue Explained

Published: August 23, 2019 10:58 am ET

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Through a career with 20 wins, more than $3.3 million in earnings and multiple awards on both sides of the border, Marion Marauder has shown extreme consistency through five seasons of racing. One thing he doesn't show: breaks in stride, which made the stretch-drive miscue in the 2019 John Cashman Memorial earlier this month all the more puzzling.

According to the horse's co-trainer Mike Keeling, that break was no fault of Marion Marauder. It was the result of an "ill-advised equipment change" by Keeling.

“I tried taking his front shoes off and we’d never done that before, and it was a mistake,” Keeling told Harness Racing Weekend Preview. “It was a worth a try, and we’d always said we’d try it once, but he needs a little bit of weight to balance him out.

“I was trying to squeeze a little more speed out of him and it cost us. Scott (Zeron) said he probably could have held him together because he had a lot of trot, but he just got a little bit sloppy on him and that was it.”

The year hasn't necessarily gone according to Hoyle for Keeling & Co. with the stable's star. In 2018, Marion Marauder had some late-season issues with his blood that took time to pinpoint remedy.

"We finally have his blood great and I went looking for more speed and it wasn’t the right thing to do," Keeling Told Trot Insider after the Cashman.

The plan for 2019 was to limit Marion Marauder's starts and key in on the Maple Leaf Trot and Breeders Crown close to home. Saturday's start will be just the fifth of the season (and first in Canada) for the son of Muscle Hill - Spellbound Hanover, the lightest workload he's had at this point of a season in his older campaigns and by far the lowest number of starts of the 13 horses in the Maple Leaf Trot elims.

Heading into the Cashman, the plan did appear to be working as Marion Marauder was coming into the race off a 1:50.4 runner-up mile at The Meadowlands on July 27. That mile time matched his fastest individual mile ever in a race. Keeling told Harness Racing Weekend Preview that the horse did have some scarring on a hock from a paddock incident in May and has been receiving chiropractic work as well.

“I trained him last Saturday (Aug. 17) at Mohawk and he felt really, really good. He felt like his old self again so I’m feeling pretty good about this weekend,” said Keeling.

The richest active trotter in North American harness racing, Marion Marauder will leave from post five on Saturday in the second $40,000 Maple Leaf Trot elimination for trainer Keeling and owners Jean Wellwood of Stratford and Devin Keeling of Cambridge, Ont. He's listed at 6-1 on the morning line, with the top five finishers advancing to next Saturday's 2019 Maple Leaf Trot Final. The star-studded field also includes 2017 Maple Leaf Trot champ Hannelore Hanover, 2019 Steele Memorial winner Manchego, 2019 John Cashman Memorial winner Crystal Fashion, world champions Six Pack and Emoticon Hanover and O'Brien Award winner Run Director.

1. Emoticon Hanover (Bob McClure - Luc Blais) 10-1
2. Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke) 7-2
3. Manchego (Andy McCarthy - Nancy Johansson) 3-1
4. Crystal Fashion (David Miller - Jim Campbell) 5-2
5. Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron - Mike Keeling) 6-1
6. Run Director (Sylvain Filion - Ben Baillargeon) 8-1
7. Six Pack (Åke Svanstedt - Åke Svanstedt ) 4-1

To view entries for Saturday's card of harness racing, click on one of the following links:

Saturday Entries – Woodbine Mohawk Park

Saturday Program Pages – Woodbine Mohawk Park (courtesy TrackIT)

(Photos: New Image Media)

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