June 26, 2021 – by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Wagering favorite Cherry Crown Jewel tried valiantly to defend her throne in the Winners Over on Saturday (June 26) at Cumberland, but she could not overtake tempo-setting Bruizn who took home the lion’s share of the $6,500 purse. 

Blasting out from behind the gate, driver Andy Harrington sent Bruizn right to the top from post five, and the big, strappy gated 7-year-old son of Musclini never saw the back of another helmet and won by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:58.1, which was a new seasonal mark.

Trained by Kim Ireland for owners Dennis and Deborah Foss, this is the fourth time this season that Cherry Crown Jewel met Bruizn, with the former winning last week, and the latter victorious on the other three occasions.

Bruizn paid $9.00 to win.  Cherry Crown Jewel (Matt Athearn) finished second, and Little Macabee was third.

Two divisions of the popular Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) saw two different drivers add first-time seasonal wins to their resumés.

Eric Bickmore made his first drive of the year a memorable one, leaving from post one in the sixth race, he was content to sit fourth past the half, and let the front-end hustlers tussle on the lead.  With the quick pace being set by Benson Merrill driving Zampara, the three-quarters was in 1:26.2.  Valerie Grondin took her shot with Middle Aged Crazy and poked a head in front at the head of the stretch. 

Arriving to the battle just in time, and having pulled River Runs Deep second over down the backside, Bickmore popped out in mid-stretch and brushed past the fading battlers to win in 1:57.3.

Not only was this the first win of the season for the Sara Gibbs-trained 10-year-old son of Riverboat King, but winning MADC driver Eric Bickmore posted the fastest race time of the series.  Owned by Robert Gibbs, River Runs Deep paid $12.80 to win.  Rose Run Slider (Michael Girouard) got up late to be second, and Middle Aged Crazy (Grondin) held on for third.

MADC $3,800 Group B went to post as race eight with six amateur entrants.  Driver Derek Howes, making his seasonal debut to the Saturday card, utilized a first over trip to capture the event with I’ll Call You Later.

Leaving from post four, and getting away fourth, Howes tipped the 8-year-old son of Dragon Again heading to the half and continued to gain ground and wearing down the pace-setting Putnam’s Storm to win in 2:01.3.  Trained by Jamie Gerard and owned by Strategic Racing Stable, this was I’ll Call You Later’s first win of the season and second victory in the last two years.  He paid $3.80 to win and wend off the favorite.  Putnam’s Storm (Robert Nadeau) finished second, and Hoboken Hanover (Charles “Butch” Eaton) was third.

On hand, as always, was Aimee Nichols of Blue Seal Feeds to make the presentations to the winning connections on behalf of the MADC series sponsoring Blue Seal Feed stores in Windham and North Yarmouth.

The updated MADC leaderboard now carries a 15-point, three-way tie for first place between Butch Eaton, Benson Merrill & Todd Whitney.  Robert Nadeau moves up a notch into fourth place, and Joe Burke rounds out the top five.

The only driver with more than one win on the Saturday card was Matty “Ice” Athearn, who won back-to-back races three and four.  Making his return to the sulky in two races Saturday, following a three year absence was Walter Case Jr, who had two drives on the card and picked up checks in both instances. 

Live harness racing from Cumberland is presented each Tuesday and Saturday through early August, post time is 2:30 pm.  For more information go to our website: firsttrackscumberland.com

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