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Yonkers Raceway's half-million-dollar signature trotting event-second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown-saw Hambletonian winner 'Marion,' who started from post position No. 4, settle third early behind second choice Smalltownthrowdown (Daley) and eight-holer Cufflink Hanover (Jason Bartlett).

However, the three-hole was no place for the people's preference, who made the lead right at a pedestrian 29-second opening quarter-mile. The pace of the Trot did not increase, as evidenced by a :58.3 intermission.

That didn't help the cause of one Lagerfeld (Mark MacDonald), who tried it first-up from fifth. He made steady gains toward a 1:27.4 three quarters, but the teletimer was not his pal here.

Marion Marauder owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, and despite the cheapy intervals, never did draw off. Instead, Smalltownthrowdown angled inside for a lane-long sprint, which 'Marion' won by a head in 1:56.3.

Lagerfeld was a credible third, with Hititoutofthepark (Corey Callahan) and Celebrity Express (John Campbell) getting the minor pay envelopes. Steed (Brian Sears) wound up seventh-placed-sixth, a stretch-breaking Cufflink Hanover was sixth-placed-seventh while a before-the-start-miscuing Iron Mine Bucky (George Dennis) was distanced.

For Marion Marauder, a 3-year-old son of Muscle Hill trained by Paula Wellwood, who keeps in the family for co-owners Marion Wellwood and Devin Keeling, it was his eighth win in 10 seasonal starts ($1,124,905). The exacta paid $5.70, the triple (three wagering choices in order) returned $24.60 and the superfecta paid $263.

Zeron won his first Trot drive.

"It was just a sprint down the lane, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit anxious,'he said. "Dan's (Daley) horse was extraordinary tonight and gave us a battle and I'm just happy my horse stuck his nose out at the wire. It turned into a great race.

"He's a special horse and I'm just fortunate to be along for the ride."

"From where I watched, let's just say I was nervous," Mike Keeling, who shares training duties with his wife, said. "He didn't seem to be getting over the track as well as he did last week (winning the lone elimination), but he won't let another horse by him."

As an added carrot, Marion Marauder earns an automatic invitation into the million-dollar Yonkers International Trot, set for Saturday afternoon, Oct. 15. However, Keeling wasn't biting.

"We have the Canadian Trotting Classic next, and that's very important for us," he said. "There's an option of the supplementing to the (Oct. 9) Kentucky Futurity to try for the Triple Crown, and we understand the history behind that.

"As for the International, we just don't know if it's fair to put him in against the some of the best older trotters in the world, having to go the mile-and-a-quarter."

Regardless, the offer remains.

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