August 1, 2021 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – 1-5 favorite Mister Muscle made quick work of Saturday’s (July 31) Jake Phipps Memorial Trot at Cumberland, equaling his track record-tying performance of 1:57.3 for a second time in as many weeks.

Driven by leading reinsman Bruce Ranger for trainer Ryan Nelson, the 7-year-old son of Muscle Mass left alertly from his assigned, outside post six and charged to the front in a :27.2 opening panel.  Clearing to the lead by the 3/8 pole, Mister Muscle set the remaining fractions and powered to victory by 3 ¼ lengths for the 28th triumph of his career.

“It was great to win this race that was named after a young man that was loved by all and was so passionate about harness racing,” stated Ranger following the race.

Mister Muscle is owned by Mark Beckwith and paid $2.40 to win.  Bruizn finished second and Cherry Crown Jewel finished third, who is owned by Jake’s Phipps’ father Bill, and was on hand for the presentation, along with many members of the Phipps and Yarmouth Lumber extended family.

“Our entire family is grateful to First Tracks Cumberland for recognizing Jake today,” noted Bill Phipps.  “He is still dearly missed, but this race helps us keep his memory alive.”

A huge upset shocked the $6,500 Winners Over Pace where 40-1 longshot Terror Hall sat quietly in the three hole for the entire mile for driver/co-owner Wally Watson and sprung out in the stretch to win by a head over the Dan Deslandes trained and driven Bo Master in 1:56.1.

Trained and co-owned by Lisa Watson, the 8-year-old son of Western Terror picked up the 20th win of his career, paying a whopping $82.40 on a two-dollar ticket.  The Bus A finished third.

Two $12,498 divisions of the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes (MSBS) for two-year-old pacing fillies witnessed a slight reshuffling of the divisional sire stakes standings for leg two. 

Newcomer Wolverina driven by Nick Graffam for owner/breeder/trainer Mike Graffam emerged from third position in the stretch to overtake the pacesetters and capture her first lifetime pari-mutuel victory in 2:04.3.  The 2YO daughter of Cheyenne Hollywood paid $8.60 to win.  Mach Royal (Ron Cushing/Scott Pooler) finished second, Wicked Kissa (Mike Stevenson/Bob Marston) was third.

The second division of the MSBS was much more predictable as Pembroke Legacy extended her inheritance and returned to the winners circle for the second time in her fledgling season, in a much swifter 2:02.3.

Driven by Heath Campbell for trainer Valerie Grondin and owner/breeder Bill Varney, the 2YO daughter of Baron Biltmore paid $3.00 to win.  Sweet Baby G (John Beckwith/Fred Ward Jr.) finished second, Sheza Rebel (Kevin Switzer Jr./Marc Tardiff) was third.

A large crowd for the final Saturday card showed robust action at the betting windows, with the day’s handle just shy of $100,000 over the 12-race card.  In addition, a $10,000 guaranteed pick five carry-over is in play for our next card on Wednesday (Aug. 4).

The Spring/Summer meet at Cumberland continues and concludes on Wed. & Thurs., Aug. 4 & 5 with 11 am posts.  Racing resumes at First Tracks Cumberland for our winter meeting, beginning November 3rd and racing through December 31, 2021.

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