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Mareina Loves Belmont Park

Mike Mareina first came to Belmont Park for a few months in the fall of 1980 as an assistant to trainer Loren Rettele, saddling Golden Act to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Man o’ War. It took him 32 years to return, but the wait so far has been worthwhile.

 

With a string of 15 horses for owners Ernie Kuehne, Chris Baccari and Charles Arlington, Mareina has been winning at a nearly 36 percent clip, with five victories from 14 starters along with a second and two thirds.

 

His first winner was Onthekisser, who took a maiden claimer on May 6 and has since returned to finish third and fourth, and his most recent was Won Kool Kid, who broke his maiden going seven furlongs on Saturday. Mareina also visited the winner’s circle with Heir to Dare, Alternative and Divine Music, who posted a lifetime best 103 Beyer Speed Figure in taking a 5 ½-furlong optional claimer in 1:01.51 on June 6.

 

“I love it here,” said Mareina, who has competed up and down the coast of California, as well as in the Midwest, Washington state, Louisiana, Florida and Canada. “Every horse I work is working well. I can’t say enough about how well the tracks are maintained, and with the nice one-mile training track, it affords you all the opportunities to get a horse in a good atmosphere and a good training situation.”

 

Mareina has had chances to come to New York before, both as an assistant to late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel and trainer Phil Hauswald, and on his own, but it wasn’t until this year that he felt the timing was right.

 

“I felt I had the right kind of stock to be competitive,” said Mareina. “I was talking with [Allen] Jerkens at Gulfstream Park, and I told him I was thinking of taking a bite out of the Big Apple. He said, ‘Come on up, there’s plenty of room’ and assured me I would do just fine.”

 

Mareina, who trained Game On Dude prior to his being sold and transferred to Bob Baffert in the spring of 2010, currently has eight promising 2-year-olds at Belmont and will add another four or five when racing moves upstate to Saratoga Springs on July 20. Although he has two stalls in Jerkens’ barn at the Spa, Mareina plans to spend most of his time at Belmont getting ready for the return of racing in September with horses such as the 2-year-old filly Work N Flirt, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Zavata, and the recently acquired Little Drama, half-brother to 2010 Sprint champion Big Drama.

 

“We’re concentrating now on quality instead of quantity,” said Mareina. “I selected horses that I thought would do nicely at Belmont Park, such as Divine Music. You have to have luck, of course, and you have to have horses that like the track. I’m super pleased with how well my horses have adapted and I’m looking forward to the fall.”

 

 

 

 

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Older Comments about Mareina Loves Belmont Park...

Mareina Iis on a roll. Just not enough horses to compete with the big boys. I'm hoping he picks up another 30 horses

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