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.

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