McMaster stu­dent’s horse is a Ma­rauder

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - HAROLD HOWE Harold Howe hjhowe@rogers.com

It’s of­ten been said that the best horses all have great names but it re­mains to be seen if that is ac­tu­ally true.

Is Mar­ion Ma­rauder a great name for one of the best three-yearold trot­ting colts in the world? Cer­tainly to trainer Mike Keel­ing it is and this year he can show $226,929 rea­sons why.

“I get credit for the name. When we bought him as a year­ling his name was Mar­ion Monopoly which none of the fam­ily liked,” re­lates Keel­ing from his sum­mer base of op­er­a­tions at Sham­rock Train­ing Cen­tre near Cam­bridge.

“We were fine with Mar­ion be­cause that is my mother-in-law Jean’s given name. It was on the ride back from the Har­ris­burg, Pa., sale that we talked about it and it just popped into my head the name Ma­rauder be­cause the our son Devin is at McMaster Univer­sity and of course that is the name of their ath­letic teams. It had a nice ring to it so ev­ery­one agreed.”

Last year the colt hon­oured his name­sake by win­ning $350,000 de­spite win­ning just one race. But he proved he had a nose for money. Son Devin and his grand­mother Jean Well­wood share own­er­ship.

“The dif­fer­ence in him this year is that he has learned how to win and that is a dan­ger­ous thing in a horse,” de­clared Keel­ing.

“Men­tally and phys­i­cally makes me feel as good about him as I can. He has grown up as a horse — re­ally thick­ened up and looks a bit like a linebacker.”

Keel­ing well knows that the colt will need all of his tal­ents next Saturday when he con­tests the $1 mil­lion Ham­ble­to­nian at the Mead­ow­lands in New Jersey.

This is the big­gest prize in har­ness rac­ing and the horse goes into the race with a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge in ri­val South­wind Frank who has lost just two races in 17 life­time starts.

“Given his record he de­serves to be the favourite while we have to prove our­selves. But pound for pound I think our horse has the same kind of abil­ity,” ex­plains Keel­ing.

“In his last start in the Stan­ley dis­tance which was at a dis­tance of more than a mile, he was great. Scott (Zeron) his driver said that he was a go­rilla and came the last eighth of a mile in 13 sec­onds which is not sur­pris­ing be­cause he al­ways has been strong­est at the end of his races. The Ham­ble­to­nian will re­quire him to race in the elim­i­na­tion and the fi­nal the same day which is some­thing new for him but ev­ery­body else as well. I think he’s up for it so we’ll see.”

To pre­pare for the event, Mar­ion Ma­rauder and Keel­ing’s wife Paula are based at Mag­i­cal Acres in New Jersey. Mike flew there Fri­day to train the horse Saturday.

“Over the years the Ham­ble­to­nian has shown to be a race that ev­ery­thing has to come to­gether on the day for the win. But some of that is out of one’s con­trol. It’s kind of sim­i­lar to golfers who show up for a ma­jor and things just are not click­ing so they fin­ish well down the pack. We will do all we can do to give him his shot and then it’s up to him.”

Re­gard­less, the name Mar­ion Ma­rauder does have a nice ring to it.

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