Mike Stevenson gets win #2,000

April 16, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Veteran driver Mike Stevenson picked up career win number 2,000 at Cumberland on Good Friday (April 15), at the track the New Brunswick-native now calls home.

Now in his fifth decade of driving and training, Stevenson has earned $8,071,432 in career purse earnings in 14,308 lifetime starts.  The new milestone marks a long journey of overcoming obstacles and perseverance in the face of adversity for the 57-year-old horseman.

“This accomplishment feels really good,” noted Stevenson.  “I have always tried to stick to the basics and prepare my horses as I was taught by the great horsemen before me.”

Stevenson summed it up with three words, “Thankful, grateful and humble.”

The regular pilot of last year’s Maine champion 3-year-old pacing colt, Call Me Maverick, Stevenson looks forward to the Gordon Corey-trained standout to return to the fairgrounds for his 4yo campaign.

“The owners have turned down several offers and have said that they ‘just want to have some fun with him,’” added Stevenson.  “We all love that little horse and look forward to Gordon and Alison’s annual return from Pinehurst.”

As the wings of the starting car folded for Friday’s eighth race, Stevenson sent Rojas Blue Chip right to the front from post four, with Kim’s Day (Drew Campbell) getting a two-hole trip.  Setting comfortable opening fractions of 29.2 and 1:01 with the 5-year-old American Ideal mare, the pressure started to mount down as Whatchagonnadoboo (Aaron Hall) popped the earplugs past the half and continued to chase down the 10-1 pacesetter. 

Pacing up alongside the leader, Whatchagonnadoboo looked Rojas Blue Chip right in the eye down the backstretch into a 1:30.1 third stanza with Kim’s Day locked in and nowhere to go.  As the field turned for home the aggressor faded which let Drew Campbell sneak out with Kim’s Day to chase down the frontrunner.  Fortunately, Stevenson and Rojas Blue Chip had enough in the tank to hold off the late charge and prevail by a measured head in 2:00.4.

Rojas Blue Chip is also trained by Mike Stevenson and paid $22.00 to win for owner David Del Pozzo.  Kim’s Day finished second, Whatchagonnadoboo hung on for third.

Several other ‘firsts’ were realized on the beautiful, sunny day of Southern Maine harness racing. 

Ron Cushing set a new track record with his own Swan Fine Lady, destroying the field in the featured $6,000 Open II Trot, winning in 1:58.2 by over 12 lengths.  Also trained and co-owned by Ron Cushing along with partners Kevin Sywyk and Lance Downs, the daughter of Swan For All set a new benchmark for 4-year-old trotting mares at Cumberland.

Swan Fine Lady paid $2.60 to win.  Little Macabee (Aaron Hall) finished second, Make It A Double (Mark Athearn) was third.

21-year-old Zachary Gray picked up the first training win of his fledgling career.  Off to a good start in his inaugural season, the Maine-native has a win and a second in five starts this year, earning him a .311 UTRS.

Two $4,000 divisions of the opening legs of our Kick-Off Late Closer Pacing Series went postward on the program. 

In the fourth race, favorite Northview Punter N swooped the field down the backstretch to win decisively for driver Bruce Ranger and owner/trainer Michelle Hardin in 2:00.2.  Following fractions cut by Librado Hanover (Aaron Hall), the 13-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight emerged victorious and rewarded his backers with a $4.20 win ticket.

Librado Hanover finished second, That’s Some Plan (Mike Stevenson) was third, and also advance to the $8,000 final next Friday (April 22).

The second split, sixth race event was a romp by She’sallfinn and driver Matty “Ice” Athearn, who won by five lengths in 2:00.1.  Parked out the last half, the 9-year-old daughter of Duneside Perch is owned and trained by Rex Ellis and paid $7.20 to win. 

Shadytouch (Andy Harrington) finished second, Eternal Ring (Dan Deslandes) was third and earn spots in next Friday’s $8,000 final, along with the fastest fourth place finisher Seafood King (Drew Campbell).

On his first day back, last year’s leading Cumberland driver, Drew Campbell won two races on the program, as did Kevin Switzer Jr. and Matt Athearn.  Chris Lefebvre also had two training wins on the card.

Saturday’s (April 16) card is highlighted by five divisions of the Kick-Off series, with three $5,000 divisions of event #2 and a pair of $6,000 splits for the top event # 3.  The finals for these events both race on April 23 and boast a purse of $10,000 and $12,000 respectively.

Two Open level pacing events share the marquee on Saturday (April 16), slated for race one (Pick-5) and the race six $6,500 Open I-II.  An ownership entry leads the morning line favorites in that event with Captain Nash (post 3, Bruce Ranger) and Nagle (post 4, Dan Deslandes).

Qualifiers for Saturday at Cumberland have been moved up to 1 pm to allow for the overflow of horses in the paddock during the regular card.

Post time for the Spring/Summer meet is set for 3 p.m. on both Fridays and Saturdays, with the extended pari-mutuel meeting racing each weekend through July 23.

The twelfth race finale features our new 20 cent Hi-Five (Pentafecta), with a low takeout of 16%.

More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.