December 16, 2023 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Joe Shaw photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Veteran pacer Lucan Hanover showed why he was the heavy favorite in his division of Friday’s (Dec. 15) Gingerbread Series, picking up his second consecutive victory at First Tracks Cumberland.

Owned, trained and driven by Aaron Hall, the 13-year-old millionaire by Western Ideal wired the field in grand fashion.  The winner of 69 races and $1.39 million lifetime held off the late charge of Buerger (Nick Graffam) to prevail by a measured half-length in 1:59.4, paying $2.20 to win.

Each of the five legs of the Gingerbread Series went for $5,500 this week, with a $10,000 final slated for Christmas Eve.  The series drew a total of 35 entrants for the second round, which will lead to a maximum of three $7,000 consolations should entries allow.

In fact, there was plenty of action and excitement in all the divisions with the opener resulting in a dead heat between Terror Hall (Wally Watson) and Sixby Hanover (Nick Graffam), who tripped the timer together in 1:58.1 under sunny skies.  However, that is where the similarities ended as Terror Hall paid $2.60 to win, but conversely Sixby Hanover returned $12.60.

The next division witnessed King Royalty (Dan Deslandes, 1:59.2) jump up and pay $40.00 to win.  Trained by Bob Marston, the 12-year-old son of Classic Card Shark is owned by Hallie Bennett and picked up his first win in his last eight outings.

Dakota ‘Action’ Jackson made an appearance at Cumberland on Friday, catch-driving Ohoka Johnny N to a wire-to-wire, 4-1/2 length rout in 1:58.3. Trained by Karl Butterfield for owner Jose Cerventes, they paid $6.60 to win the fourth Gingerbread div.

Punters that parlayed some action onto Bet On Joe in the ninth race final Gingerbread division reaped the rewards as the 8-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight gave his colleagues a front-end tour of the facility.  Winning in 1:59 by 3-1/2 lengths for driver Kevin Switzer Jr. he paid $5.60 to win for trainer Bob Marston.

The swiftest race of the day went to former Maine Sire Stakes star So Rock N’ Roll who scored in 1:57.2 for driver Kevin Switzer Jr. and trainer Benson Merrill. A former infantryman of the Tardif Taskforce, So Rock N’ Roll is a winner of $175,016 and eight races this season.  The 3-year-old son of Western Maverick was bred in Maine by Lesley Leighton, who has retained ownership of the quarter-million lifetime earner.

There is a $456 Pick-5 carryover going into Saturday’s (Dec. 16) card, which also features two $6,000 divisions of the Rudolph Late Closer Pace.  Those pacers will be competing for a spot in the $10,000 final, and all the Winter Late Closing series will appreciate $7,000 consolations, entries permitting.

On the Sunday (Dec. 17) program the $6,000 Holly Pace and $6,000 Jack Frost Trot late closers also enjoy two and three divisions respectively.  This is also the second leg of these series, and each have a $10,000 final on Dec. 24. 

Race six on Sunday carries the $4,400 seventh 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 continues on Saturday (Dec. 16) at Cumberland, the second leg 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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