Athearn sweeps Maine Sired Trots at Cumberland

June 22, 2024, by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Joe Shaw photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Driver Mark Athearn and trainer Gretchen Athearn swept a pair of Maine Sire Stakes trotting events on Friday (June 21) at Cumberland Raceway, recreating a similar instance last season where the same two youngsters won their stakes debuts on the same day.

It was like Déjà vu all over again when in the $15,758 early non-wagering event Athearn’s Carrabassett went right to the top and never looked back, scoring by 9 open lengths in 2:03.2.  The sophomore son of Boy Band did the same thing in his first pari-mutuel race in 2023, winning in a pedestrian 2:11.3.  Reducing his mark by nearly 8 seconds, it was his first trip back to the winner’s circle since last July.  Owned by Patrick Leavitt, he was bred by the late Mike Andrew.

Pembroke Will (Heath Campbell) last season’s freshman champion finished second; Chipper Dale (Drew Campbell) was third.  They were both trained by Valerie Grondin.

In the $16,208 opener for Maine-sired 3-year-old trotting fillies, Athearn took matters into his own hands once again and repeated his wire-to-wire journey with My Saving Grace in 2:05.1.  The Shake It Off Lindy filly won her first three starts last year, and went on to capture a total of five Maine Sire Stakes on the season.  Taking a new mark for Team Athearn, she is owned by Margaret Thyng and paid $7.60 to win by a length.  She was bred by Leighton Property.

Last year’s distaff champ and 1-2 favorite Pembroke Breeze (Heath Campbell) finished second; Twisted Venture (Mike Cushing) was third.

Next, a pair of $16,000-plus Maine Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings went postward as races 3 and 4 on the 13-race pari-mutuel card.

Justcallmebuck just keeps on winning as the son of Deuce Seelster grabbed his third in a row for driver Heath Campbell and trainer Gary Hall.  Slicing through the beam in 1:59.1, the duo provided a meager $2.20 payoff as the 1-9 heavy favorite.  Owned and bred by Kristina Hall, it was the gray colt’s second consecutive stakes victory, and another wire-to-wire romp.

What’s For Suppah (Aaron Hall-Michelle Hardin) finished a fast-closing second; Chance Worth Tryin (Drew Campbell-Kevin Chase) was third.

The Tardif Taskforce nearly swept the final $16,416 event, with their charges taking first, second and fourth places.  Aaron Hall left swiftly with Ron Cushing’s Hesjustadelight, setting an opening panel of 29.1.  They paced in single file fashion to the 59.2 half, where 1-2 favorite Ella V Fella (Kevin Switzer Jr.) moved first over from fifth position. While he embarked on that mission to improve his position, that attempt proved unsuccessful as stable mate Wes’s Challenge (Walter Case Jr.) popped the deuce and took command past the 1:28.1 third stanza.

Storming home in 1:58, the son of Deuce Seelster paid $7.20 to win, who was bred by Gary and Kristina Hall.  Art’s Flight (Andy Harrington-Mark Tardif) picked up the pieces and finished second; Hesjustadelight hung on to be third; Ella V Fella was fourth.

Driver Drew Campbell had four wins on the card, and Mark Athearn won three which included the early non-betting race.

Racing resumes on Saturday (June 22) which brings the Learn & Earn 2-year-old races back with four non-wagering events starting at 1:30 pm.  The regular card begins promptly at 3:15 pm with a 12-race program of full fields, including the featured $6,000 top pace in race 11.

A single $5,000 division of the Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) rings the bell for the opener on Saturday.  The MADC is sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham, Maine.

The First Tracks Cumberland meet continues throughout the Summer months with regular racing on Friday and Saturday each weekend during the extended pari-mutuel meeting, which runs through August 3. 

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