December 21, 2023 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME – First Tracks Cumberland has a host of lucrative series finals as well as the third annual Au Revoir Retirement Showcase slated for closing weekend, which runs from Friday (Dec. 22) through Christmas Eve Sunday (Dec. 24).

Friday’s card (Dec. 22) is highlighted by the $7,000 Frosty Final, a pop-up series that was for TrackMaster 60 pacers.  The early morning line favorite at 3-1 is Best Choice (Nick Graffam) is hampered with post eight.  Blessed with pylon position is fan favorite Putnams Storm (Bob Nadeau), the gray horse with the big heart.  Carded as race seven, there are also a couple of $5,000 Frosty consolations sprinkled throughout the 10-race program.

Saturday (Dec. 23) is a big day in the Maine harness racing industry as seventeen 14-year-old Standardbreds will parade in front of the stands, recognized by the announcer, and feted and photographed in the winners circle with gifts and prizes.  The Au Revoir Retirement Showcase includes a special $6,000 Auld Lang Syne, exclusively for 14-year-old pacers. 

The entire day is dedicated to these special horses, with the sixth race marked for the soon-to-be retirees. Overall, the 17 horses have combined earnings of $5.4 million, which is an average of $316,123.  The combined start total is a staggering 5,193 with an average of 305 starts per horse.  Total combined wins are 760 with an average of 45 victories per horse. 

The fastest record belongs to Cee Pee Panic (1:49.2f), and he is also the most decorated Standardbred with 65 trips to the winners circle.  He will make his 400th career start in the Auld Lang Syne race.  The richest participant is Twin B Impressive ($674,900), who also competes in the aforementioned special race.  The average win time of all the retirees is an equally impressive 1:52.1.

A special commemorative program has been produced and contains biographies and photos of the equine stars, as well as a chance for fans to win prizes.

There is also a $10,000 Winners Over Handicap in race seven, with top pacers Alex Having Fun (Aaron Hall, 3-1) and The Bird Dance N (Dan Deslandes, 5-2) looking for the lion’s share of that top purse.

On Sunday’s closing day (Dec. 24) the track will host four $10,000 finals of the various Winter Late Closing series, with five additional $7,000 consolations to compliment the card.  In addition, the $8,000 winter Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) final will be contested as race two.  As always, the MADC events are sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham.

First Tracks Cumberland will offer a $5,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), which is carried on races 3 through 7 and have a mandatory payout.

All the live harness racing action begins on Friday (Dec. 22) at Cumberland, the final Winter Festival weekend with year-end action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  First post is 10:50 am each day.

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