The Pinehurst Harness Track is proud to be the winter home of one of the greatest horses racing today. Marion Marauder, who has spent the last two winters training in Pinehurst, won the $1,000,000 Hambletonian Trot on August 6th at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.
The brown colt is trained by Paula Wellwood along with her husband Mike Keeling who make Pinehurst their home for the winter months before spending the summer training racehorses in Canada. Devin Keeling, son of Paula and Mike, and Marion Jean Wellwood, mother of Paula, own the colt in partnership.
The Hambletonian is the biggest prize in harness racing, and the Wellwood family has chased the elusive racing jewel for decades. The race is split up into two heats on the same day, an elimination race requiring the horse to finish in the top 5 and a final where the $1,000,000 purse is on the line. Marion Marauder won his $35,000 elimination race over the heavy favorite Southwind Frank in a thrilling 1:51.3 mile split, his fastest race to date of his career.
About 90 minutes later, driver Scott Zeron piloted the son of the great sire Muscle Hill to an epic stretch duel with Southwind Frank yet again, defeating him by just a nose in 1:51.4. The finish was one of the closest Hambletonian finishes in recent memory, and the victory pushes Marion Marauder over the storied $1 million earnings barrier for his career.
Jean Wellwood purchased the well-bred but diminutive colt as a yearling for $37,000 and brought her grandson, a current football player at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, in as a partner. The colt learned the fundamentals of racing right at Pinehurst Harness Track and showed flashes of talent that had his stable excited. After a successful first season, Marion Marauder trained again in Pinehurst prior to the current season, and the North Carolina air has clearly done him well with glowing success.
The colt was impressive as two-year-old in 2015 when he earned $281,986 despite only winning one race. He chased his nemesis Southwind Frank in several races, but could not seem to outmatch him in their freshmen year of racing. In 2016, Marion Marauder has won 6 of 7 races, including 2 triumphs over his nemesis, en route to $729,905 with many major races to come in the next few months.
While the money is certainly nice, the Hambletonian victory means much more than a bankroll to the Wellwood family. Jean’s late husband and Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Wellwood, raced several horses in the Hambletonian with no luck. The dream to capture the race finally came true for the family with his daughter as trainer. There was hardly a dry eye in the winner’s circle among the connections as a dream that transcends generations finally came true.