Cumberland Fair opens with lucrative pop up series

September 22, 2023, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME – The Down East faithful will transition from Farmington to the 151st annual Cumberland Fair on Sunday (Sept. 24) with ten harness races programmed at the iconic Southern Maine oval.

Many of Maine’s rural fairs are known for their tractor pulls and draft horse demonstrations, however the Cumberland fair was first held in 1868 with harness racing as the “Maine” attraction.  It remains one of the biggest annual agricultural events in the southern part of the Pine Tree state.

The harness racing at Cumberland Fair will start at 1:30 pm on opening day, Sunday (Sept. 24) with full cards scheduled for seven dates through Sunday (Oct. 1), with a special post time of 11 am for that final date.

The featured events for the opening day card are the first legs of four individual pop up series, which are ‘trackmaster rating’ conditioned paces.  The series finals are being held in conjunction with the $240,000-plus Maine Sire Stakes 2-year-old finals on September 30, and carry total final purses of $35,000.

“First Tracks Cumberland is excited to once again host the rich Maine Sire Stakes freshmen finals, and we want the entire day to be a fun and exciting event for all the fans and horsemen,” stated racing secretary Rob Pennington.

Two six-horse legs of the $5,500 Lobster Pop Up series eliminations go postward as races one and nine on opening day (Sept. 24).

Rambling Ruby (Aaron Hall) has been installed as the early 5-2 morning line favorite in the opener, scoring from post five for owner-trainer Eric Bickmore.  Leaving from pylon position as the second choice at 7-2 is Justcallmeminnie (Nick Graffam) who is owned and trained by Gretchen Athearn.

The second $5,500 division, carded as race nine, pits recent Bangor winner Real Sancho with owner-driver Joey Mosher (post 3, 9-5), against Paris Beau (Bruce Ranger) and Canbec Kingkazimir (Kevin Switzer Jr.) as the second and third choices, respectively. 

The top four finishers from each division that enter will return for the $9,500 final on Sept. 30.

Looking ahead, the Maine Sire Stakes returns with 3-year-old trotters on Wednesday (Sept. 27), and then roll into the 3-year-old pacers on Friday (Sept. 29).  The highlight of the week will be all four $60,000-plus divisional Maine Sire Stakes freshmen finals on Saturday (Sept. 30).

In other news, when all eyes were fixed upon the Delaware County Fair on Thursday (Sept. 21) one of Maine’s favorite sons, ‘Polie’ Mallar, had his top colt Ken Hanover pace the fastest mile in the 78-year history of the Little Brown Jug.  David Miller drove the son of Captaintreacherous to a 1:48.4 triumph in the second elimination, who is co-owned by Pine Tree State residents Pat Leavitt (pictured) and Bill Jordan, along with Mallar and Dennis Osterholt.

First Tracks Cumberland’s winter festival reconvenes on Sunday, November 5, abiding by a weekend racing schedule through Christmas Eve (Dec. 24).  Winter post times will be 11 a.m.

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