September 25, 2023, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photo)
CUMBERLAND, ME – The 151st annual Cumberland Fair opened Sunday (Sept. 24) with teamster Ron Cushing taking a pair of the Coastline pop-up splits with horses trained by Dakota Jackson.
Jackson began last week with a decisive victory in the prestigious Tim Fouts Memorial Amateur Driving Championship at the Delaware County Fair on Sunday (Sept. 17), and followed that up with a training double on the opening day of the Fair at the iconic Southern Maine oval.
In the fastest mile of the day, a $5,200 Coastline Pop Up, Cushing driving Trente Deo was content to let former Maine Sire Stakes sophomore champion Deal With It Roman (Bruce Ranger-Marc Tardif) show the way from his pylon starting position.
While setting a speedy :27.3 opening panel, the veteran reinsman backed down the half to :57.1. However, when the outer flow started to gain momentum through the paddock turn, Ranger let the son of Western Maverick out a notch and hit the third station in 1:25.1.
Throughout the mile Cushing had Trente Deo sitting tight on Ranger’s helmet and waited until the head of the stretch to pull the slingshot. Gaining ground with every stride, the pair prevailed by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:55.2.
Deal With It Roman finished second; Mocha On The Rocks (Heath Campbell-Valerie Grondin) was third.
Owned by Zachary Jackson, twin brother of trainer Dakota Jackson, the 7-year-old son of Captaintreacherous picked up the 31st win of his career, paying $2.80 to win.
Cushing and Jackson came right back to win the next race, another $5,200 Coastline Pop Up, with Gotta Minute N on the front end in 1:57.4. Owned by the Ettore Annunziata Rev. Trust, the 10-year-old son of Badlands Hanover paid $3.40 to win for the 28th time of his career.
Other series winners include: $5,500 Lobster Pop Up, Rambling Ruby (Aaron Hall-Eric Bickmore) & Real Sancho (Joey Mosher-Kim Vafiades); $5,200 Coastline Pop Up, Paxton (Cambell-Grondin); $5,200 Autumn Pop Up, Humor Me (Hall-Vafiades); $5,000 Blueberry Pop Up, Rest Assured (Mike Stevenson).
All of the ‘trackmaster rating’ conditioned pacing series carry total final purses of $35,000, and are being held in conjunction with the $240,000-plus Maine Sire Stakes 2-year-old finals on September 30. In addition, the track’s popular Cumberland Derby returns and gives patrons who enter the contest a chance to win a total of $500 in cash.
There will be a live draw for the Freshmen Finals on Wednesday (Sept. 27) at 12:30 pm.
Harness racing at Cumberland Fair continues at 1:30 pm on Monday (Sept. 25) with full cards scheduled through Sunday (Oct. 1), with a special post time of 11 am for that final date. There is no racing on Thursday (Sept. 28).
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).
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: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.