May 12, 2024, by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Joe Shaw photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Bet On Joe captured the $6,000 featured pace at Cumberland on Saturday (May 11), picking up his second win in eight starts this year, and rewarding his backers with a ‘triple return’ on their investment.

Unraced at 2, the now-9-year-old has taken a seasonal mark every year since lining up behind a starting car, the fastest was 1:54f at Plainridge in 2022.  Having overcome many obstacles, Bet On Joe has been quietly plying his trade in New England since he was a sophomore. 

“He is the true definition of a war horse,” exclaims his trainer Bob Marston.

Plagued with injuries most of his career, his past performances may seem a little threadbare to some.  But, not according to Marston.

“Joe is all heart.  He has rebounded from multiple setbacks that would have been the end of most horse’s careers.  But, he just keeps coming back…stronger every time.”  Marston continues, “He’s the barn favorite.”

A proud product of the world’s richest stallion, Bettor’s Delight, and from the Falcon Seelster mare Ante Fay, the gelding comes by his grit and determination honestly.  Both his dam and his second dam earned six figures in their careers and he is just $2,005 shy of breaking that plateau himself.

Scoring from post 2, Bruce Ranger sat in the two-hole behind pacesetter Rocksapatriot and tipped out down the homestretch to win in 1:56.  He paid $6.40 to win his 17th career race.  Trained by Marsten for owner Sharon Goding, who has owned him for the last five seasons, he now has $97,995 earned lifetime. 

Gordon Corey’s Call Me Maverick (Mike Stevenson) finished second; Lexus Witha View A (Nick Graffam) was third.

David Zuckerman took his first Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) race of the season with his own Rest Assured in 2:00.4, paying $9.20 to win.  Jo Pa’s Sweet Lou (Alex Richardson) finished second; Furious Beach (Mike Girouard) was third.  The $5,000 MADC is sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham, Maine.

Legendary Maine horseman Donny Richards picked up a win with his 7-year-old mare Ry’s Red Rocket, taking a $5,500 FM conditioned pace in 1:57.2.  Driven by Walter Case Jr. for the 91-year-old trainer, it was his 993rd win to go with a career that boasts 4,212 driving victories.  Of course, not unlike Mickey Burke Sr., some of those victories were captured while ‘wearing a soft cap.’

Case Jr., Ranger and Kevin Switzer Jr. all picked up driving doubles on the day’s program.  After 5 weeks and 10 racing dates, Dan Deslandes and Switzer Jr. are tied at 19 in the driver’s standings.  Ranger (11), Aaron Hall (10) and Drew Campbell (9) round out the top five.  Jeff Deslandes leads all conditioners with 18 victories, followed by Larry Dancer (11) and Bob Marston (9).

Racing resumes next Friday (May 17), and continues on Saturday (May 18) where horse racing enthusiasts can watch and wager on 149th Preakness Stakes from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.  Considered the “middle jewel” of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown, the race is known as the ‘Run for the Black-Eyed Susans’ with Cumberland hosting the full-card simulcast. 

First Tracks Cumberland Spring/Summer meet continues throughout the Spring and early Summer months with regular racing on Friday and Saturday each weekend during the extended pari-mutuel meeting, which runs through August 3.  Post time is always 3:15 pm.

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