Hambletonian-Winner Marion Marauder Menaces Fate, Provokes Positive Results

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

August 9th, 2016

The winner of the 91st Hambletonian produced pleasure on so many levels. Firstly, let’s explore the public positivity.

Marion Marauder was not a majority choice to win. Southwind Frank was the choice of most “experts” because “Frank” had dominated the two- and three-year-old divisions going into the Hambletonian.

“Marauder” was not the favorite in the elim heat against “Frank.” So, when he won at a bit less than 7-2, it was a good price for his backers, as well as it did not sway the Frank forces—they were not convinced Marauder could win the final. This provided, for bettors, hope that Marauder could pay decently in the final and that is hope that rarely surfaces in heat racing.

The emergence of Bar Hopping as a major factor after he impressively won the first elim heat made the whole event seem more competitive, which helped maintain the interest of the betting public and encouraged wagering in the final.

Driver Scott Zeron displayed his emotions after winning the first heat. Too often, drivers react after wins as if nothing too exciting just occurred. But Zeron was elated and it showed, not only in what he said but how he said it.

As well, Zeron answered another question with impulsive delight. He was asked if he thought his colt could go another heat, to which he said, “I don’t have a clue.” He said it with a smile and his thin face shook with excitement. Bravo, Scott, it made a lot of bettors feel terrific. Marauder fans hoped as he did, while Frank fans used the comment to enforce their support for Frank and Bar Hopping fans felt confident their candidate would win.

Bar Hopping was bound to receive a lot of action in the final for four reasons. The first reason is that his elim heat was terrific. The second reason was that Frank had lost his elim heat to Marauder and the handicapping “elite” did not respect Marauder. The third reason was that his driver, Tim Tetrick, publicly revealed, with only a smile, that he felt Bar Hopping was going to rule the final mile. Compared to how Zeron responded, Tetrick had appeared “cocky.” The fourth reason was Jimmy Takter, Bar Hopping’s trainer. Takter won the most recent pair of Hambletonians and cannot be counted out as a major influence on his horses’ victories.

When poetic justice ruled in the final, with Marauder beating Frank because Bar Hopping failed miserably to dominate (he finished off the board), all of the other positives fell into place. Trainer Paula Wellwood finally took center stage in the event and Zeron became the second youngest driver to win a Hambletonian.

Oh, yes, and Marion Marauder paid $7.00 to win as the public’s third choice.

On a personal level, we who presented the Hambletonian Trail exclusively at TwinSpires, loved Marion Marauder from the beginning of his sophomore season. In Hoof Beats, the industry’s monthly, he was our top choice for best colt in the division, as was published earlier this year. It was the second time in three years we predicted the Hambletonian winner with our comments and our support (we also chose Royalty For Life, who won the 2013 event).

And we gave him to the public on the blog when he paid more than he may ever pay again at three when we supported him at Tioga on July 9 and he paid $15.20, $4.40, $2.60). We backed him again in a Stanley Dancer division at the Meadowlands on July 16 and bettors were becoming excited, as he paid only $4.00, $3.00 and $2.40.

What made the day even more positive was that when Jimmy Takter’s filly, All The Time, won the Hambletonian Oaks, she was the public’s third choice. All The Time paid $9.20, a gift for loyal Takter fans and those bettors who see value when it shines like a beacon in their eyes.

It’s irrefutable that the 2016 Hambletonian was a genuine promotion for the well being of harness racing, its participants, fans and bettors.

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(We heartfully thank the Hambletonian Society for its cooperation with this blog and TwinSpires for continually supporting harness racing pari-mutuels)