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.