July 11, 2021 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Three divisions of the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes (MSBS) went postward on Saturday (July 10) at Cumberland, with series leader Call Me Maverick maintaining his dominance in front of a big, summer weekend crowd.

Winning his $9,918 division, Call Me Maverick got every call as driver Mike Stevenson led the successful son of Western Maverick through comfortable fractions which allowed the 3-year-old pacing gelding to scoot down the homestretch in :28.3 to win in 1:59.1 by two and one quarter lengths. 

Never beaten at his home track, the heavy favorite paid $2.60 to win, and now has three wins in four MSBS legs this season.  Owned and bred by Upland Farm, Call Me Maverick is another proud alumnus of the Gordon Corey Institute of Equine Erudition, with campuses in Pinehurst and Cumberland.

American Maverick (Kevin Switzer Jr./Marc Tardif) finished second, Brady To Gronk (Ron Cushing/Heidi Gibbs) was third.

Another favorite that won his $9,918 MSBS division was A Sweet Bidda Luck, also in 1:59.1, also from post one, also wire-to-wire.  Ron Cushing drove the son of Western Maverick for trainer Heidi Gibbs and owner Scott McKenzie, which is the gelding’s second win of the MSBS season.  Bred by Lynn-Marie Plouffe, A Sweet Bidda Luck paid $3.20 to win. 

Barely a whisker could separate Lord Magnetic (Matt Athearn/Gretchen Athearn), who finished second by half a length, from the dead heat for third between Hollywood Skeeter (Aaron Hall/Mike Graffam) and Whatawinwillie (Kevin Switzer Jr./Mark Tardiff).

In the third division, Paxxton locked bridles with Edelman heading to the three-quarters and proceeded to battle for the final three-eighths of a mile with the former besting his rival by half a length in 1:59.2.

Paxxton, driven by Heath Campbell for trainer Valerie Grondin, left alertly from post five and grabbed the lead into a swift :28.1 opening panel.  When the field hit the half in :59.3, Ron Cushing driving Edelman sensed the slow :31.2 second stanza and pulled the son of Western Maverick from the three hole.  Heading through the third turn those two locked eyes and never gave one another an inch until the wire where Paxxton prevailed by a short half length.  Whiskey Maverick (Aaron Hall/Michael Graffam), locked in on the pylons sat third through the final half and finished in that position.

A three-year-old son of Western Maverick, he is owned by Valerie Grondin and Rhoda Underhill and was bred by Warren and Joan Harp.  Paxton paid $4.60 to win.

The Glamour Boys return to town Tuesday (July 20) when First Tracks Cumberland welcomes the fifth leg of the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes (MSBS) for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings, which culminates with a $80,000a final on October 16 at Bangor.

During week seven of the Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) series, sponsored by Blue Seal Feeds, current point leader Joe Burke put some distance on the rest of the club drivers by winning his third MADC in a row.

During the first half of the race, Todd Whitney driving Major Plans was cutting the mile and having things pretty much his own way.  But “Big” Joe Burke had other plans as he pulled the pocket going down the backside into a 1:30.1 third panel and continued to gain ground to win in 2:01 with his own Meetmeatthedance by a length and a half.

Trained by Robert Marston, the five-year-old son of A Rocknroll Dance lit up the tote board, paying $27.80 to win.  Charles “Butch” Eaton closed swiftly with Hoboken Hanover to be second, who is also second in the point standings.  Trainer/driver David Crochere finished third with Todd Whitney (third in points) and Major Plans hanging on to be fourth.

Returning, once again, to Cumberland to make the presentations to the winning amateur connections is Melanie Locke, store manager for both the local Blue Seal feed stores and presenting the ‘swag bucket’ trophies of stable supplies on behalf of the Windham and North Yarmouth Blue Seal Feed stores.

There will be just one more week for drivers to earn additional points toward the $7,500 final on Saturday, July 24, with the top seven point earners advancing to the finale.

The Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association and First Tracks Cumberland, in collaboration with Love To Race author Amber Sawyer, gave out several dozen signed copies of the children’s book to kids under 12 that were in attendance on Saturday. 

Live harness racing from Cumberland is presented each Tuesday and Saturday through July 31, post time is 2:30 pm, with two additional dates added Wed. & Thurs., Aug. 4 & 5 with 11 am posts.  For more information go to our website: firsttrackscumberland.com

Follow us on Facebook at @FirstTracksCumberland.