July 14, 2021 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME –  McGwire Sowers blasted Daliocity down the Cumberland homestretch to catch the tiring leaders and capture the second leg of the Freeman Parker Maine Legends Series on Tuesday (July 13) at Cumberland.

Following a vicious front-end speed duel between heavy favorite Southwind Terror (post 2, Nick Graffam) and longshot Safety Second (post 6, Dan Deslandes), Sowers had Daliocity (post 4) out and rolling in the final turn and was able to track down pacesetting Southwind Terror and the pocket sitting Gold Star Spider (post 3, Heath Campbell) to win the lion’s share of the $4,000 purse.

Nick Graffam moved veteran pacer Southwind Terror to the lead on the pylons right from the start, with Dan Deslandes moving Safety Second up swiftly to take a shot at the lead.  Gold Star Spider and Heath Campbell stuck closely to Graffam’s helmet, with the rest of the field some eight lengths behind the front-end fracas at the half.  Deslandes long-term plan turned out to be untenable as Graffam would not yield to the longshot and by the three-quarters Safety Second retreated back to his safe space. 

Past the third stanza, Heath Campbell pulled Gold Star Spider out of the pocket and edged past Southwind Terror going around the final turn and down the homestretch.   Sowers stuck like glue to the pacesetters through the turn and hit the accelerator to get up by a nose to grab the win at 6-1 and take a new seasonal mark of 1:56.

Trained and co-owned by Sara Gibbs with driver McGwire Sowers, the 7-year-old son of Dali now has 17 wins lifetime and $149,455 in earnings.  Daliocity paid $14.20 to win.  Gold Star Spider finished second, Southwind Terror was third.

Making the presentation to the winning Legends connections was Don Lambert, the assistant store manager for the North Yarmouth Blue Seal Feed with the popular ‘swag bucket’ trophy of stable supplies.

The top money earners in the two legs advance to the $12,500 final, which will be held Wednesday (July 21) at Bangor.

Two early, non-betting events featuring two-year-old trotters in the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes went smoothly for the freshmen products of the Pine Tree State. The colts raced first, competing for a prize of $9,192, which was the first purse start for all of these youngsters.  Winning the colt division was Katahdin Mark, a brown colt by Noble Venture, trained and driven to a wire-to-wire victory by Gary Hall in 2:07.2. Katahdin Mark was bred and is owned by James and Betsey Kelly. Chamorro (by Pembroke Slugger) finished second for driver Heath Cambbell and trainer Valerie Grondin.

Four trotting fillies chased $9,208 in the second non-betting event for Maine-bred babies.  Local trainer Valerie Grondin sent out the victorious Pembroke Cocktails (by Noble Venture) who was driven to a 2:08.2 clocking by Drew Campbell for owner Bill Varney.  Valerie Grondin-trained pupils also finished second (Pembroke Stormy), and fourth (Pembroke Faye).

Nick Graffam and Bruce Ranger each picked up driving triples on the Tuesday (July 13) card, along with Benson Merrill who enjoyed a training three-peat, and is now the leading trainer at the iconic Southern Maine oval. 

Looking back, we were remiss in reporting that driver Drew Campbell had five wins on the Saturday (July 10) card, which was the most ever dash wins by a driver in a single card at First Tracks Cumberland.  Drew Campbell is the second leading dash winner at the current Spring/Summer meet, behind leader Bruce Ranger by just six wins.  However, Campbell leads Ranger in Cumberland purse earnings $101,335 to $98,848.

Live harness racing from Cumberland is presented each Tuesday and Saturday through July 31, regular 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

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