May 11, 2024, by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Joe Shaw photo)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Perennial leading driver Bruce Ranger picked up a natural hat trick on Friday (May 10) at Cumberland, winning three of the final four races on the 12-race card. 

For the native-New Englander it was just another day at the office, while wearing the familiar Norton Farm colors of Red, Gold and Black, Ranger started his three-race sweep with victory in the featured $7,000 Winners Over Trot.

Scoring from post 4 with second choice (8-5) Kilauea, the confident teamster was content to let the front-end battles ensue during the early going while taking a seat on the pylons in fifth.  Favored Armagedon Seelster (6-5, Kevin Switzer Jr.) refused to take a seat and powered past J S Peyton (9-2, Dan Deslandes) to grab the top in a demanding 27.4 opening panel.

The field was strung out going to the half, with Switzer trying to reel in his trotter on the front end.  They went by the half in 57.3, and although there was no movement, the pace was a much more manageable second quarter of 29.4.

Down the backside the final time, Kilauea was sent out first over by the paddock draw gate and moved closer to the top, as the leader tried desperately to hold on to his advantage through a 1:27 third stanza.  Kilauea flushed several would-be challengers as J S Peyton tipped, forcing Storm Bringer (Aaron Hall) three-wide around the final turn. 

Ranger used the cover to slingshot around the traffic jam, swinging four-wide and into the home stretch.  Down the center of the track the trotters all had their eyes on the leader, and Ranger swooped them all under the shadow of the wire to prevail by a scant quarter length.

The photo finish for win put Kilauea on top of the 1:59 mile, paying $5.40.  Owned by Michael Pease and trained by Christopher Hitchcock, the 6-year-old son of Kadabra picked up his third win of the season, and now boasts lifetime earnings of $174,489.  Named for an active volcano on the Island of Hawaii [pronounced kee-lou-ey-ah], Kilauea now has 11 career victories.

Armagedon Seelster hung on to be second; Storm Bringer was third.

Ranger continued to visit the Blue Seal Feeds winners circle in the following two races with: Eric Bickmore’s Rambling Ruby ($15.60, 1:58.1) and Ron Patoine’s Broadway Giant ($2.80, 2:00.1).

Bruce Ranger sits 20th on the all-time drivers dash win list with 10,280.  Aside from Ranger’s hat trick, Aaron Hall enjoyed a trainer-driver double, and reinsman Andy Harrington also grabbed a pair of victories.  It was a good day at the windows for First Tracks Cumberland as punters pushed $144,797 through the system.

Racing resumes Saturday (May 11), and the opener features the fifth week of the Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) with six part-time reinsmen vying for bragging rights.  The early favorite is Rest Assured (David Zuckerman) listed at 2-1 from the eurorail.  Last week’s winner Furious Beach (Mike Girouard) has been assigned post 6 and is pegged at 4-1.  Fan favorite Putnam’s Storm (Bob Nadeau) scores from post 2.

As always, the $5,000 MADC is sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham, Maine.

The featured $6,000 pacing event is programmed as race 8 and carries six of the state’s faster sidesteppers, including the return of Gordon Corey’s Call Me Maverick.

Next week, 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 on Saturday, May 18. 

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. For additional information, visit our website at, or find us on social media at