June 9, 2024, by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland (Joe Shaw photo)

CUMBERLAND, ME – With his popularity rising with each and every start, George Fenno III’s Instant Replay returned to his winning ways on Saturday (June 8) and captured the $6,000 featured pace at Cumberland Raceway. 

While taking a new 1:55.1 lifetime mark in the redemptive victory, the disabled veteran’s stable star has been a beacon of hope for the guy known around the backstretch as ‘Triple Sticks.’

“He really has shown us that anything is possible with hard work and dedication,” noted the emotionally moved 66-year-old former military policeman.  “When [Walter Case Jr.] tipped him down the backside his rapid acceleration impressed us all.  My second trainer Alan Nelson had him ready to roll.”

And roll he did as the horse had to overcome a backstretch traffic jam to get clear and challenge for the lead.  At the outset it looked like the horse was going to get the down east shuffle, but as the race unfolded, it served to his advantage.

Bet On Joe (Bruce Ranger) was the first to leave from his inherited pylon position, which he protected with all the speed he could muster.  Second choice Runrunjimmydunn N (Kevin Switzer Jr.) left hard to challenge but was rebuffed by the inside pacesetter and backed himself down into the two hole.  Lexus Witha View A (Nick Graffam) leaving from post four was strung out parked with no seats available into a 27.3 opening quarter.

With Bet On Joe having things his own way and Lexus Witha View A stuck first over into a 55.4 half, Case moved Instant Replay into the outer flow and waited patiently for his perfect time to pounce.  Just past the aft paddock drawgate Fenno’s ‘Replay’ was given his cue and responded admirably with a three-wide brush that effectively put all the would-be spoilers into his rear view mirror.  Back two lengths at the 1:25 third panel, Instant Replay swooped the field and drew off by four to score in 1:55.1. 

Owned and trained by George Fenno III, the 4-year-old son of Lazarus N paid $4.80 to win.  Runrunjimmydunn N finished second; Bet On Joe was third.

Elated with the horse’s third win in his fourth seasonal start in the Pine Tree State, Fenno stated, “We will give ‘Replay’ a well-deserved week off and find a race for him in Maine the following week.  Our goal is to point him toward the $25,000 Fred Nichols Memorial on July 7 at Bangor.”

In Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) action, the usual suspects found their way back to the Blue Seal winners circle once again this week.  With his fourth driving victory in a row, Hunter ‘Hot Lead’ Lofthus grabbed the first event with the Lisa Watson-trained Jo Pa’s Sweet Lou.  The 8-year-old son of Sweet Lou won the $5,000 first division in convincing fashion, scoring in 1:58.3 by 5-1/4 lengths, and paying $8.80 to win.

The second MADC $5,000 split was captured by favorite Maddy N Maggie and driver Mike Girouard.  Trained by Kate Gerow, the 5-year-old daughter of Sunshine Beach paid $5.20 to win in 2:00.4.  The MADC is sponsored every week by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham, Maine.

Bruce Ranger skillfully piloted Dylans Future to a tote board smashing eight-hole triumph, not only giving the horse a 1:57.1 new lifetime mark, but paying $48.80 in the process.  Owned and trained by Scott Farley, the 6-year-old son of Stonebridge Terror rocketed to the lead from his outermost position and led every step of the way thereafter.  It was the horse’s 13th lifetime victory.

In professionally-driven events, only three of Saturday’s races were bagged by drivers not named Kevin Switzer Jr.  The reigning leading reinsman at Cumberland won a fistful of five races on the afternoon card, and increased his seasonal total to 42 victories, sporting an impressive .390 UDRS.  Rounding out the top five aviators are: Dan Deslandes (23), Bruce Ranger (20), Walter Case Jr. (18) and Drew Campbell (16).

Jeff Deslandes is the meet’s leading trainer with 22 wins, followed by Bob Marston (12) and Larry Dancer (11).

The First Tracks Cumberland meet continues throughout 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 firsttrackscumberland.com, or find us on social media at https://www.facebook.com/FirstTracksCumberland/