October 1, 2023, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland
CUMBERLAND, ME – The Maine faithful were out in force on Saturday (Sept. 30) when the Pine Tree State-bred freshmen battled for bragging rights in the $200,000-plus Maine Sire Stakes finals for 2-year-olds on the closing day of the iconic Cumberland Fair.
The swiftest stakes race of the afternoon program was captured by Gowestyounggrace in 1:59.4 taking the $51,023 final for frosh filly pacers.
Driven by Dave Ingraham for trainer and owners/breeders Fred Ward Jr. and Sharon Ward, the homebred daughter of Western Maverick and wagering favorite worked hard to get to the top.
When the wings folded 8-5 second choice Who’s Perfect (Heath Campbell-Valerie Grondin) dashed out for the lead with Summertime (Steve Wilson) and Mrs Foxy Roxy (Nick Graffam-Mike Graffam) settling into the second and third positions, respectively.
Just after the field hit the :28.1 opening panel Ingraham had Gowestyounggrace out and rolling through the turn and while passing the stands the aggressor had made up nearly six lengths and was looking the leader right in the eye.
That :59 second stanza breather was neither a benefit, nor a detriment, to the advancing Gowestyounggrace as she got to within a whisker of the lead as Who’s Perfect was valiantly trying to gain some separation at the 1:28.1 third station.
With the rest of the herd smelling blood in the water and racing for second, Ingraham took charge and scooted home by a very comfortable 3-1/2 lengths, with the final time just a fifth of a second off the filly’s lifetime best. Gowestyounggrace paid $4.00 to win her fifth race of the season.
Summertime finished second; My Sweet Revenge (Walter Case Jr.-Marc Tardif) was third.
When the boys got busy in the $51,023 Maine Sire Stakes 2-year-old colt and gelding pace final, it was the tactical steer by Ron Cushing that rewarded the connections of Hesjustadelight with the champion’s trophy.
At the start Kevin Switzer Jr. driving 4-5 favorite Two Fold Cold (Marc Tardif) from the dreaded post eight was literally forced to leave and continued moving up to grab the lead just past the :29.2 opening panel.
Alertly, Cushing was anticipating the scenario and was content in the pocket while Dave Ingraham pulled Oakleypopsthedeuce first over into a :59.2 half. While that put Cushing and Hesjustadelight in a box, the veteran reinsman sat chilly through the 1:30 third station.
As the field rounded the final turn daylight emerged for Cushing as he found racing room and set his sails into the wind and let the son of Western Maverick’s final brush take him home a winner in 2:01.4.
Trained by Heidi Cushing and owned by Ron Cushing, (breeder) Lynn-Marie Plouffe, Anthony and Joseph Romanelli, it was the gelding’s fourth win of the season. He paid $5.40 to win.
Two Fold Cold finished second; Justcallmebuck (Gary Hall) was third.
In the $50,567 Maine Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old trotting fillies it was
Pembroke Breeze who emerged victorious. Trained by Valerie Grondin and driven by Heath Campbell, the daughter of Pembroke Slugger is owned and was bred by Bill Varney. She paid $3.40 to win in 2:07, giving her four seasonal victories.
Bernie’s Legacy (Ivan Davies) finished second; My Saving Grace (Mark & Gretchen Athearn) was third.
Before the card was the $50,421 Maine Sire Stakes for freshmen trotting colts and geldings, which completed a sweep of the trotting splits for the aforementioned connections. Pembroke Will was driven by Heath Campbell for trainer Valerie Grondin and owner/breeder Bill Varney with the son of Pembroke Slugger taking a new lifetime mark of 2:08.3 in the process.
Stable mate Chipper Dale (Valerie Grondin) finished second; Carrabassett (Athearn) was third.
Racing concludes at the Cumberland Fair with a special 11 am post time for Sunday (Oct. 1), where the first 100 patrons that purchase a program will receive a $5 betting voucher.
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.