Fourth win for Art Of Endurance at Cumberland

December 17, 2023 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Joe Shaw photo)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Five-year-old pacer Art Of Endurance has been on a winning streak that started Thanksgiving weekend, and could very well continue through Christmas.  Picking up his fourth win in a row on Saturday (Dec. 16) at First Tracks Cumberland, the Benson Merrill-trainee is prospering in the colder climate of winter-time racing in Southern Maine. 

Driven by Kevin Switzer Jr. in all of his recent triumphs, the relatively young son of Artspeak won both of his legs of the Rudolph Series.  His 1:59 triumph in Sunday’s $6,000 second leg was the fastest division, and an effort where he came from off the pace and was uncovered going into the final turn to win by three lengths.

The week before he was sitting sixth back 7-1/4 lengths going down the backside the final time.  When Switzer Jr. unleashed him he uncorked a :29 final quarter to win by a length in a seasonal best 1:56.

“We always said that he had the ‘endurance’ but never the ‘art,’” quipped his leading conditioner Benson Merrill.  “But I think he has found it.  He is tricky to drive but we think Kevin has found the key.”

Owned by John and Thelma Kiernan and Thomas Bemont, he paid $2.60 to win the 14th race of his career and push his lifetime bankroll to $76,536.

Merrill, Cumberland’s second leading trainer in dash wins with 27, is stabled on a farm in Augusta with 16 head.  He enters next week’s $10,000 Rudolph final with the likely favorite in Art Of Endurance.

The only other horse to win both of his Rudolph legs is Tim McMiki.  Driven by Bruce Ranger for trainer Randy Bickmore, the 5-year-old son of Always B Miki grabbed Sunday’s other division in 1:59.2.  Owned by Emery Pelletier, he paid $3.00 to win and also won for the 14th time in his life.  His lifetime earnings now exceed $128,000.

The swiftest race of the day went to PBR Street Gang in rein to Aaron Hall in 1:57.4.  The $6,000 conditioned pace was the second win in three starts for the Sara Harrington-owned and trained son of JK Endofanera.  He paid $10.80 for the victory.

Hall, Ranger and Switzer Jr. each enjoyed driving doubles on the program.

There is a $259 Pentafecta High-5 carryover going into Sunday’s (Dec. 17) card, which also features divisions of

the $6,000 Holly Pace and $6,000 Jack Frost Trot late closers.  Race six on Sunday carries the $4,400 seventh and final leg of the Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) race, with a $6,000 winter final slated for Sunday (Dec. 24).  As always, the MADC events are sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham.

Looking ahead, Cumberland’s third annual Au Revoir Retirement Ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday (Dec. 23).  Seventeen 14-year-old Standardbreds will parade in front of the stands and be recognized by the announcer and feted in the winners circle with gifts and prizes.  Those that are still racing are cordially invited to participate in our $6,000 Auld Lang Syne race for older pacers, where the foals of 2009 will be given preference and inside post positions.  Trainers are encouraged to check the upcoming condition sheet for more details.

Racing resumes on Friday (Dec. 22) at Cumberland, the final weekend of our three-day Friday-Saturday-Sunday programs.  First post is 10:55 am each day.

Racing at Cumberland continues three days each week through Christmas Eve, 2023. 

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