Richards’ Ry’s Red Rocket does it again

November 27, 2022 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME –Legendary New England horseman Donnie Richards had plenty to be thankful for this weekend, as his stable star Ry’s Red Rocket picked up her eighth win of the season on Saturday (Nov. 26) at Cumberland.

Driven to victory by Matty ‘Ice’ Athearn, the 5-year-old mare by Sunshine Beach had all the boys talking as she turned a two-hole trip into pay dirt to win the $6,000 Open 3 Pace.  Scoring from post six, Athearn left swiftly to get position behind the leader Woody’s Cash Crop (Nick Graffam) who set opening fractions of 28.4 and 58.4.

Moving toward the half, the outer flow included Sports Team (Aaron Hall), who provided cover for wagering favorite See You Friday (Walter Case Jr.), who found himself eight lengths behind the leader.  Graffam pushed Woody’s Cash Crop to a 1:27.4 third panel while trying to gain some separation from his challengers.  At this point it seemed that Ry’s Red Rocket was hopelessly boxed in on the rail, with horses swarming toward the front end. 

As the field rounded the final turn a leg weary Sports Teen drifted out and provided Matty ‘Ice’ with all of the racing room he needed to duck to the outside and pace past the leader, scoring handily by a half-length in 1:57.4.

Owned and trained by the 89-year-old Donnie Richards, Ry’s Red Rocket was bred by Linwood Higgins.  A current track holder and Cumberland Fairgrounds resident, she paid $8.00 to win the 19th race of her career.  Woody’s Cash Crop finished second; See You Friday was third.

The $6,500 featured Open 2 Pace was a jog through the park for Hespoisedtopounce A, who clocked the fastest win of the day in 1:55.2.  Driver Kevin Switzer Jr. hustled the 6-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight out from post four, and easily took command.  From that point it was all over but the shouting as no horse got anywhere close to challenging the 1-9 favorite.

Owned by Anthony Gruppo and Tim Bojarski, Hespoisedtopounce A is trained by Jimmy Nickerson.  Picking up his eighth seasonal victory, the fast-class performer has bankrolled $85,740 this season.

Hespoisedtopounce A paid $2.20 to win.  Rocksapatriot (Dave Ingraham) finished second; Star Speaker (Aaron Hall) was third.

Leading reinsman Bruce Ranger enjoyed a hat trick, while Matt Athearn, Aaron Hall and Kevin Switzer Jr. each piloted a pair of winners.

Racing continues Sunday (Nov. 27) program features ten races, three of which are trotting events.  The featured $6,000 Open 3-4 Trot includes a full field of recent winners, including Osprey Delta (9-2, Mike Stevenson) and A Blue Blood (5-1, Nick Graffam) who will try to upset the early morning line favorite Little Macabee (5-2, Aaron Hall).

Every race, all weekend long, has a 50-cent Trifecta, and the final race each day also features a 20-cent Pentafecta.

Our extended pari-mutuel harness racing meet runs through December 24, 2022 with post time remaining at 11 am.  The popular Au Revior Retirement Showcase for 14-year-old Standardbreds is slated for December 17, with entries due by Nov. 30.

For more information go to our website:

Follow us on Facebook at @FirstTracksCumberland.

Broadway Giant towers over top trot at Cumberland

November 21, 2022 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME – Leading reinsman Bruce Ranger led Broadway Giant on a tour of the Cumberland Raceway oval on Sunday (Nov. 20), handily winning the featured $6,500 Open 2-3 Trot by three open lengths.

The track was listed as fast despite temps in the mid-30s when the 8-year-old son of Broadway Hall left alertly and immediately took command from post four.  Setting comfortable opening fractions of 29.2 and 1:01.4, he set the stage for his command of the following circuit.  Last week’s fast class winner Caulfield (Mike Stevenson) made a bid for contention first over going to the half, but only managed to get within a length of the leader. 

As the third panel of 1:30.4 came and went, so did Broadway Giant as the dark trotter opened up several length on his rivals to cruise to victory unabated in 2:01.4.  Owned and trained by Ron Patoine, it was his 19th career victory and sixth on the season.  Broadway Giant paid $3.20 to win as the wagering favorite.  Namesmuscle (Mark Athearn) finished second; Caulfield was third.

Second choice trotting mare Osprey Delta (2-1, Mike Stevenson) picked up the pieces in the $6,000 Open 3-4 Trot, as the quick tempo-setting Mister Muscle (Walter Case Jr.) faded in the home stretch.  “Casey” sent the 6-5 favorite Mister Muscle right out to the lead from post five with Osprey Delta right alongside to push him to a 29.2 opening panel before crossing over.  Heading into a 1:00.2 half-mile marker, Aaron Hall moved Little Macabee to the outside in the second turn to challenge for the lead. 

These two clashed while careening down the backside into a swift 1:30 third panel, with Little Macabee looking Mister Muscle right in the eye around the final turn.  The speedy fractions had finally gotten the best of the leader, which allowed the challenger to take a momentary lead in the lane.  But, unbeknownst to the front end battlers, Stevenson and Osprey Delta were flying down the center of the racetrack to steal the day’s thunder in 2:00.3.

Trained and driven by Mike Stevenson, the 7-year-old mare by Tad The Stud is owned by Steel Ponies LLC (Robert Collins).  She paid $6.60 to win.  Little Macabee finished second; Prescott (Andy Harrington) was a fast closing third.

Bruce Ranger enjoyed three victories on the day’s program, and continues to lead all dash-winning drivers of 2022 at Cumberland with 50 wins.  Walter Case Jr. is second with 45, with Matt Athearn and Kevin Switzer Jr. tied for third with 40 apiece.

Next week’s schedule excludes ‘Black Friday’ (Nov. 26) and restarts on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 27 & 28), with the Winter Festival extended pari-mutuel harness racing meet continuing through December 24, 2022.  The popular Au Revior Retirement Showcase for 14-year-old Standardbreds is slated for December 17, with entries due by Nov. 30.

For more information go to our website:

Follow us on Facebook at @FirstTracksCumberland.

Adriano Hanover equals Cumberland all-age track record

November 12, 2022 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME – For the second time this week a horse bred by the sport’s leading nursery, Hanover Shoe Farms, set a track record.  Thursday night at Rosecroft World Champion Allywag Hanover paced the fastest mile in history of the sport on a five-eighths mile track.  The 5-year-old gelding by Captaintreacherous won the Potomac Pace in a swift 1:46.4f, which was a world and track record performance. 

Two days later (Nov. 12) Adriano Hanover soared to a 1:53.4h victory at First Tracks Cumberland, equaling the all-age track record for pacers, and establishing a new benchmark for older pacers at the Southern Maine oval.

Driven by Kevin Switzer Jr. the 5-year-old son of Western Ideal sprinted right out for the lead from post position four.  Hitting the opening panel in 27.3, Switzer Jr. applied the brakes into a 58.1 half.  As the outer flow started to advance Adriano Hanover responded to the reinsman’s urging and gained further separation into 1:25.4 third stanza and sprinted home a victor by 5-3/4 lengths with a 28 second final kick.

Adriano Hanover is owned and trained by Gerald MacKenzie Jr., and picked up the 17th victory of his career, which is closing in on $250,000 in lifetime earnings.   He paid $3.00 to win the $6,500 Open 2 Pace featured race of the afternoon. 

Captain Nash (Drew Campbell), the previous divisional track record holder, finished second and was race-timed in the identical 1:55 former standard, despite having broken equipment.  Last week’s winner, Ry’s Red Rocket (Matt Athearn) finished third.

The $6,000 Open 3 Pace was captured by Star Speaker (Drew Campbell) in 1:57, who got up in the final strides to nip Terror Hall (Wally Watson) by a nose.  Trained and owned by Kimberly Vafiades (with Greg Kirby) the 5-year-old son of Artspeak has won 9 races this season.  He paid $3.60 to win.

Kevin Switzer had a grand slam on the program, which also included Oceanview Echo ($8.80 to win), Eleanor Jean ($6.40) and Native Maverick ($27.20) who was four-wide down the backside to score from dead last at the quarter pole.

Drew Campbell enjoyed a driving triple, and eleven different trainers won a race on the day’s card.

The Sunday (Nov. 13) program has twelve races, five of them trots.  The $6,500 Open 2-3 Trot features last week’s victor Favorite Uncle (Cain MacKenzie) who scores from post position four.  Outside him is the trending Broadway Giant (PP 5, Bruce Ranger) who won three-in-a-row before moving up to this class.  This race also marks the return of local fan favorite Cherry Crown Jewel (PP 3, Mark Athearn), who set a track record at Cumberland last year and is coming off a win at Bangor.

First Tracks Cumberland is proud to present the Polar Express Late Closing Series for the Winter meet.  Beginning Dec. 2-4, the three individual TrackMaster rating and conditioned events boast over $85,000 of additional earning opportunities for New England horse people, for which there is no entry fee.  For further details, visit the horsemen page on our website, or click:

First Tracks Cumberland and the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association are collecting nonperishable food items in the race paddock during the next two weekends of racing to benefit the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.

Racing continues at First Tracks Cumberland for our Winter Festival extended pari-mutuel meeting featuring a weekly trifecta of cards on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov.18, 19 & 20) which continues through December 24, 2022.

For more information go to our website:

Follow us on Facebook at @FirstTracksCumberland.


November 6, 2022 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME – Track record holding 5-year-old pacing mare Ry’s Red Rocket returned to her home turf and upset the wagering favorite Adriano Hanover to capture today’s (Nov. 6) co-featured $6,500 Open 2 Pace in 1:55.1, the swiftest race of the day. 

The eighth race proved to be a very competitive field of top pacers as three current, or former, track record holders sought their share of the purse.  In addition, the skies were clear and temperatures soared to 70 degrees as the unseasonably warm weather played the perfect backdrop for the resumption of harness racing at the iconic Cumberland Raceway for the first of 21 Southern Maine racing dates. 

Returning back home following her three month tour of the Maine Fair Circuit, the Matt Athearn-driven Ry’s Red Rocket left swiftly from post two and hit the opening panel in 28.1.  With Captain Nash (Drew Campbell) settling in the two-hole, the daughter of Sunshine Beach got a brief respite going to the half in 57.3, and rolled on comfortably to the three-quarters in 1:25.4.  Surprisingly, the outer flow never materialized as Rocksapatriot (Dave Ingraham) was all alone on the outside and had only advanced to third position, just outside Captain Nash who had maintained his catbird seat into the third stanza.

When the field turned for home 2-5 favorite Adriano Hanover (Kevin Switzer Jr.) was sling-shot from fourth, out from behind Rocksapatriot and barreled down the lane to catch the leaders.  The wire arrived just in time for Ry’s Red Rocket to hold on for a ‘nose’ victory over fast closing Adriano Hanover.  Captain Nash and Rocksapatriot were nearly inseparable for third and fourth respectively, back just a half-length off the leaders.

Owned and trained by local legend Donnie Richards, Ry’s Red Rocket paid $15.80 to win her seventh race of the season.

The fifth race $6,500 Open 3 Trot was captured by Favorite Uncle who took the overland route to score for trainer/driver Cain Mackenzie.  Scoring from post five, the 6-year-old son of Uncle Peter hung tough on the outside for the entire middle half and brushed to a head victory over Little Macabee (Aaron Hall) to pick up his first victory for his new connections, after spending the summer on the tough Ohio circuit.  Prescott finished third.

Favorite Uncle is owned by Lillian Bellmore and paid $15.80 to win

From the 47 different conditioners that entered horses in the opener, local horseman Mike Stevenson enjoyed a driving and training double, winning the opener with Osprey Delta ($3.80 to win) and the ninth with Rest Assured ($7.40).  Drivers Matt Athearn, Aaron Hall and Walter Case Jr. also picked up driving doubles.

First Tracks Cumberland will offer the Polar Express Late Closing Series for the Winter meet.  Beginning Dec. 2-4, the three individual TrackMaster rating and conditioned events boast over $85,000 of additional earning opportunities for New England horse people, for which there is no entry fee.