CUMBERLAND WINTER FESTIVAL OPENS SUNDAY

October 30, 2022 – by Chris Tully, for First Tracks Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, ME – Racing resumes at the iconic Cumberland Raceway on Sunday (Nov. 6) for the first of 21 Southern Maine racing dates dubbed the “Winter Festival” and carries a new 11:00 a.m. (EST) first post time.

Condition sheets for horse trainers will be available early in the week, with the first draw slated for Thursday (Nov. 3) for the opening day card.

In addition, racing secretary Marc Reynolds is working on several lucrative Late Closing series for the month of December, which should provide for very competitive fields vying for over $85,000 in additional purse monies.

Racing continues at First Tracks Cumberland for our second Winter-time extended pari-mutuel meeting featuring three consecutive days of racing with a Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule.  The action continues weekly through December 24, 2021.

For more information go to our website: firsttrackscumberland.com

Follow us on Facebook at @FirstTracksCumberland.

Monsters of the Midway

First Tracks Cumberland racing secretary Marc Reynolds is pleased to announce TWO series dubbed the ‘Monsters of the Midway,’ for the upcoming fair dates (Sept. 25 – Oct. 1) as well as THREE (3) distinct Invites for Sat., Oct. 1, in concert with the Maine Breeders Stakes 2-year-old final racing card. Pace and Trot go for $10,000 …The MAINE-BRED pace goes for $15,000

See future condition sheet(s) for additional details and draw dates.

Vesuvio Bi breaks track record at Cumberland

July 23, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – While temperatures soared across the country this weekend, the tempo was hot on Saturday’s (July 23) final day of the Spring-Summer meet at First Tracks Cumberland with leading driver Bruce Ranger steering Vesuvio Bi to back-to-back Open Trot victories, and breaking a track record in the process.

When the starter said ‘Go’ for the $6,000 Open Trot 2-3, Ranger catapulted Vesuvio Bi three-wide into the first turn while forcing a breathtaking 27-second opening panel.  The speedy tempo stretched out the field and Ranger had the 8-year-old son of Manofmanymissions out in front by open lengths and hit the half all alone in 56.2.

And if that wasn’t hot enough, the tempo-setting pair scorched the field going down the backside in an unheard of 1:25.2 third stanza.  On top by six in what may have been the fastest third quarter posted in a trotting race in the history of the Cumberland Fairgrounds, Ranger and Vesuvio Bi had distanced themselves enough to coast home a somewhat leg-weary winner by 3-1/2 lengths.

Vesuvio Bi paid $3.60 to win, with the 1:57.1 final time being the fastest mile ever trotted by an aged gelding at Cumberland.  Little Macabee (Aaron Hall) finished second; Caulfield (Kevin Switzer Jr.) was third.

It was the 29th career victory for Vesuvio Bi, who is trained by Joseph Nelson for owners Michele Nelson and Eric Everett.

In Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) action, Zack ‘The Sherriff’ Gray took matters into his own hands and posted a big victory on the closing weekend at Cumberland.

Scoring from post four, Zack Gray got away fourth with Lightupbullville, while Alex Richardson driving favorite Our Royal Majesty grabbed the lead from post two.

Going to the half Gray pulled the 11-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight to be first over and fought valiantly for the lead through the following two furlongs and ultimately drew off by 5-3/4 lengths for the win in 1:59.3.

Trained by Fred Ward, and owned by Sharon Ward, Lightupbullville paid $7.40 to win for the 27th time in his life.  Tricia Star (Ryan Hall) finished second; Our Royal Mattjesty (Richardson) hung on for third.

Jason Bertolini maintained his MADC point advantage and finished the Cumberland Spring-Summer season on top with 69 points.  Alex Richardson finished in second with 59; Benson Merrill was third with 50. 

The Maine Amateur Driving Club is sponsored by the North Yarmouth Blue Seal Feed Store and the Windham Blue Seal Feed Store, with leadership and support from Aimee Nichols, their dedicated territory sales manager.

There were two Maine Breeders Stakes (MSBS) held before the regular program.  The two $11,000-plus MSBS races were for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings.  The first non-bettor was won by Luke McGook in a wire-to-wire cruise in 2:02.  Kevin Switzer Jr. drove the son of Rock N’ Roll World for trainer Marc Tardiff and owner Leighton Property.  Luke McGook was bred in Maine by Erica Saucier and is now 4-for-4 on the season. 

Rockaroundsam (Walter Case Jr., Marc Tardif) finished second; Two Towns Over (Heath Campbell, Valerie Grondin) was third. 

The second non-wagering event saw Twice The Ice (Walter Case Jr.), a son of Deuce Seelster, equal his mark from last week, scoring in 2:01.4.  Twice The Ice is owned and trained by Marc Tardif, was bred by Gary and Kristina Hall.

Mattuci (Heath Campbell, Valerie Grondin) finished second; Anithingforyoudear (Mike Stevenson, Marc Tardif) was third.

Walter Case Jr. and Mark Athearn made two trips to the Blue Seal Feeds Winners Circle.

Harness Racing at the Cumberland Fairgrounds returns during the Maine Fair Circuit from September 25 through October 2.  First Tracks Cumberland winter festival reconvenes on November 11 and races through New Year’s Eve.

More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.

Roaring repeat for Ry’s Red Rocket at Cumberland

July 22, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photo)

CUMBERLAND, ME – As the penultimate program of the Spring-Summer meet at First Tracks Cumberland got underway, Ry’s Red Rocket roared past the pack to victory and grabbed the final $6,000 Open 3 Pace of the meet.

As the wings folded driver Matty “Ice” Athearn took a seat with the 5-year-old mare by Sunshine Beach, allowing front-running Nagle (Dan Deslandes) to control the tempo and stroll to a 28.3 opening panel.

Getting away fifth the Donnie Richards-trained lass waited until the field passed the 3/8 marker, and at the head of the stretch they picked up the cover of Rocksapatriot (Dave Ingraham) who pulled first over.  As the field passed the stands for the first time, Nagle continued to set the pace getting to the half in 59.

When the group bunched up heading into a 1:27 third panel, Athearn was unwilling to wait any longer and pulled Ry’s Red Rocket three-wide down the backside to make a bold move for the lead.

With Nagle on the pylons and Rocksapatriot between them, the trio paced around the turn in unison and were mere heads apart as they entered the lane.  Racing toward the wire the mare found another gear and got up by a quarter-length in the final strides to best Rocksapatriot.  Nagle hung on for third.

Ry’s Red Rocket paid $3.80 to win, with the time of the mile in 1:56.3.

Owned and trained by Donnie Richards, it was the fifth seasonal victory for Ry’s Red Rocket.

Pickmepickme won the lone $11,703 Maine Breeders Stakes for 2-year-old pacing fillies, which was held before the program.  Driven by Andy Harrington for owner/trainer/breeder Marc Tardif, the daughter of Western Maverick now has two wins in three stakes races this season.

Matt Athearn, Walter Case Jr., Aaron Hall and Wally Watson all enjoyed driving doubles on the day’s program. 

The final date of racing for the Spring-Summer season will be held Saturday (July 23) at 4 p.m.  Another round of Maine Amateur Driving Club action is on tap, sponsored by Blue Seal Feeds, along with several Open Pacing events and a $6,000 Open Trot.

The final race on both Friday and Saturday features our 20 cent Hi-Five (Pentafecta), with a low takeout of 16%.

More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.

Swan Fine Lady conquers the men at Cumberland

July 17, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Swan Fine Lady showed the men who was boss as the trotting mare outstepped the field and won by a head to capture Saturday’s (July 16) $6,500 Open Trot 2-3 at First Tracks Cumberland.

Scoring from post six, the 4-year-old mare by Swan For All took a seat in fifth when three horses dashed to the front to tussle for the top.  Leading the charge into a 27.3 opening panel was Mister Muscle (Bruce Ranger), followed closely by Pembroke Regal (Heath Campbell) who was pushing the pace.

Cushing sent Swan Fine Lady to the outside first over and moved up to third place by the time the field hit the half-mile marker in 58.1.  As the pack moved in a tight bunch around the paddock turn and onto the backstretch the final time, Bruce Ranger asked pacesetting Mister Muscle for all of the trot he could muster as they hit the third panel in 1:27.4.  Swan Fine Lady was holding her ground first up and had moved closer into second place, with Pembroke Regal boxed in third.

Rounding the turn for home Swan Fine Lady looked the leader in the eye and went right on by to win in 1:59.3.  Matt Athearn shook loose with fresh horse Warrawee Preferred and charged down the lane to be second.  Pembroke Regal hung on for third.

Owned by Ron Cushing, Kevin Sywyk and Lance Downs, she is trained by Heidi Gibbs.

Swan Fine Lady paid $7.00 to win for the 23rd time in her career.

In Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) action, Alex Richardson plied a textbook wire-to-wire rout with the Lisa Watson-trained Tail Hook in 1:59.  The victory put Alex Richardson into second place in the MADC point standings going into the final week of the meet.

A 5-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere, Tail Hook is owned by Fox Ridge Stable and paid $7.00 to win.

Ideal Rowan (Zack Gray) finished second; Rockintheniteaway (Derek Howes) was third.  The Maine Amateur Driving Club is sponsored by the North Yarmouth Blue Seal Feed Store and the Windham Blue Seal Feed Store, with leadership and support from Aimee Nichols, their dedicated territory sales manager.

There were three Maine Breeders Stakes (MSBS) held before the regular program.

The first non-wagering race for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings carried a purse of $12,479 and was captured by Ranaldi, a son of Western Maverick.  Owned, bred and driven to victory by Ron Cushing, Ranaldi is trained by Heidi Gibbs.

Deal With It Roman (Kevin Switzer Jr. / Marc Tardif) finished second; Use Yah Blinkah (Drew Campbell / Valerie Grondin) was third.

The following two $11,000-plus MSBS races were for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings.  The second non-bettor was won by Luke McGook in a wire-to-wire cruise in 2:01 while lowering his mark.  Kevin Switzer Jr. drove the son of Rock N’ Roll World for trainer Marc Tardiff and owner Leighton Property.  Luke McGook was bred in Maine by Erica Saucier and is now 3-for-3 on the season. 

So Rock N’ Roll (Walter Case Jr.) finished second; Facemaskrequired (Andy Harrington) was third.  The top three finishers are all trained by Marc Tardif.

The third and final non-wagering event saw Twice The Ice, a son of Deuce Seelster, perform cool under wraps for driver Walter Case Jr., scoring coast-to-coast in 2:01.4.  Twice The Ice is owned and trained by Marc Tardif, was bred by Gary and Kristina Hall, and also lowered his mark over the swift Cumberland surface.

Two Towns Over (Heath Campbell / Valerie Grondin) finished second; Rockaroundsam (Andy Harrington / Marc Tardif) was third.

Walter Case Jr. made three trips to the Blue Seal Feeds Winners Circle, while Ron Cushing had two victories.  Marc Tardif and Lisa Watson both enjoyed training doubles.

Harness Racing at First Tracks Cumberland starts to wind down before Maine’s pari-mutuel fair racing season begins, with the final weekend of the current meet going to post at 4 pm next Friday (July 22) and Saturday (July 23). 

Ry’s Red Rocket beats the boys at Cumberland

July 15, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Three geldings and a stud horse could not match strides with the pride of the Cumberland Fairgrounds, Ry’s Red Rocket, as the 5-year-old Sunshine Beach mare shifted into turbo power and blasted away from the 4- & 5-year-old Open Pace field, taking home the lion’s share of the $6,000 purse.

Driver Matty “Ice” Athearn sent the Donnie Richards-trained lass right to the front from post five, hitting the quarter in 27.2.  The mare relaxed a bit setting a 57.2 second-panel, with Call Me Maverick (Mike Stevenson) sitting comfortably in the two-hole.  Captain’s Reign (Walter Case Jr.) started the outer flow from the back of the pack, followed by Lindas In Heaven (Drew Campbell) second over.

As the field bunched up down the backside following a 1:26.1 third-quarter, Athearn pressed the accelerator on Ry’s Red Rocket and the mare responded with a powerful thrust to gain some separation on the field as they turned for home.

Ry’s Red Rocket coasted home a three-length winner in 1:56.  Call Me Maverick maintained his position behind the leader down the stretch and to the wire.  With the first over move by Captain’s Reign ineffective, Drew Campbell moved Lindas In Heaven to the center of the racetrack to make a play for the show dough.

Owned and trained by Donnie Richards, it was the fourth seasonal victory for Ry’s Red Rocket, who paid $5.80 to win.

In the two $11,000-plus divisions of the Maine Breeders Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies, Pembroke Legacy captured her fourth consecutive stakes race for driver Heath Campbell, trainer Valerie Grondin and owner/breeder Bill Varney.  Pembroke Legacy paid $2.20 to win in 1:59.1.

In the second division Wolverina grabbed her second Maine-sired event, taking a new seasonal mark of 1:59.1 for driver Nick Graffam and trainer/co-owner Mike Graffam with Bill Arnold.  Wolverina paid $4.60 to win.

In other Maine racing action, Cumberland’s outrider Charlene “Sherry” Cushing jumped out of the saddle and into the racebike to win with trotter Majestic Brayden in 2:02.4, a new seasonal mark.

Cushing also trains the 8-year-old son of Majestic Son, who picked up his 25th career victory.  Owned by Mike Graham, Majestic Brayden paid $4.80 to win.

Bruce Ranger snagged a driving double on the day’s program. 

Racing resumes Saturday (July 16) at 4 p.m., with the 30th racing date of the Spring-Summer season.  Another round of Maine Amateur Driving Club action is on tap, sponsored by Blue Seal Feeds, along with several Open Pacing events and a $5,500 Open Trot.

Harness Racing at First Tracks Cumberland starts to wind down before Maine’s pari-mutuel fair racing season begins, with the final weekend of the current meet going to post at 4 pm next Friday (July 22) and Saturday (July 23). 

The final race on both Friday and Saturday features our 20 cent Hi-Five (Pentafecta), with a low takeout of 16%.

Gray scores again with 14-year-old at Cumberland

July 10, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photo)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Although US Trotting Association rules state that most horses cannot race past the age of fourteen, no one told Forward Bliss.  The aged son of Blissfull Hall won his second Maine Amateur Driving Club event of the season for owner/trainer/driver Adam Gray on Saturday (July 9) at Cumberland.  In fact, in his last nine starts Forward Bliss has three wins and has not missed a check. 

Gray agrees that the horse is something special, “He just amazes us every week.  ‘Bliss’ always give his best effort and we have grown very fond of him.”

Having amassed 36 victories in 361 lifetime starts, Forward Bliss is kind of an elder statesman around the Cumberland Fairgrounds.  Racing Secretary Mark Reynolds noted, “You would be hard pressed to find a horse with more starts on his card.”

‘Bliss’ earned $150,804 lifetime, and has been 1-2-3 in 153 starts, which is an on-the-board rate of 42%.  But Gray doesn’t concern himself with statistics; he just wants to keep racing the horse as long as he can.

“He will let us know when he is ready to retire,” Gray noted.  “But every morning he is ready to put his pants on and go to work!”

Forward Bliss (Adam Gray)

Adam Gray is the eighth owner of Forward Bliss, a horse so well-traveled that his 3-year-old record of 1:53.2z denotes the timeworn Virginia Standardbred facility Colonial Downs, which is a 1-1/4 mile track that closed to harness in 2014.

Forward Bliss paid $16.20 to win. Lightupbullville (Zack ‘the Sherriff’ Gray) finished second; Led Schneppelin (Jason Bertolini) was third.  The Maine Amateur Driving Club is sponsored by the local Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham, Maine.

Two Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes (MSBS) were contested, with the first $10,959 2-year-old trotting filly event held before the regular card.  Another Adventure stayed flat and took home the lion’s share for trainer Marc Tardif and owner Leighton Property.  She was capably driven by Kevin Switzer Jr.

The first pari-mutuel $11,289 MSBS race was captured by Stealin Money, a 2yo trotting son of Pembroke Slugger, bred, co-owned and trained by Mike Graffam and driven by Nick Graffam.  Stealin Money gave some to his backers, paying $29.20 to win following miscues by several wagering favorites.

The $6,500 Open 2-3 Trot finished with a dead heat for win between Mister Muscle (Bruce Ranger, $4.00) and Caulfield (Kevin Switzer Jr., $8.60) in 1:58.1, the fastest dead heat trotting race in the history of Cumberland harness racing.

Bruce Ranger won three races on the program.  Aaron Hall, Kevin Switzer Jr. and Nick Graffam all enjoyed driving doubles.  Bruce Ranger leads the drivers’ colony with 35 victories.  There are two more weeks (4 cards) of racing for Drew Campbell (31), Kevin Switzer Jr. (30) and Matt Athearn (29) to take a shot at the title.

Racing resumes Friday (July 15), post time 4 pm.

More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.

‘Soho’ upsets in feature at Cumberland

July 9, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photo)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Soho Leviathan A had not won a race yet this season.  That all changed on Friday (July 8) at Cumberland when driver Mike Stevenson steered him to a neck triumph in 1:55.4, upsetting the favorites in the $6,500 Open 2-3 Pace.

Scoring from pylon position, Stevenson took the lead through the first turn, but was happy to let the 3-5 favorite Nagle (Dan Deslandes) blast to the front end heading down the backstretch.  While the new leader Nagle controlled the tempo in 28.2 and 58, Stevenson and Soho Leviathan A sat comfortably in two-hole as the outer flow started to materialize.

Linda’s In Heaven (Drew Campbell) moved first over at the half, followed by second choice Rocksapatriot (Dave Ingraham) who were both chasing a formidable third panel in 1:26.1.

With Linda’s In Heaven fading Stevenson tipped the 9-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven out, off of the pylons, while Matt Athearn simultaneously found racing room up the inside with Ry’s Red Rocket to surround a tiring Nagle.  The new leaders fought valiantly in the final strides down to the wire, with Stevenson and Soho Leviathan A prevailing by a tight neck.

Soho Leviathan A (Mike Stevenson)

Trained by Bob Marston for owner Lawrence Angello Jr., Soho Leviathan A paid $20.00 to win.  Ry’s Red Rocket finished a close second; Nagle hung on to be third.

Mike Stevenson enjoyed a driving triple and a training double on the day’s program.  Aaron Hall also won three races.

The Cumberland track crew has been keeping the racing surface in tip-top shape.  The weather and the harness action was fast and saw three races pace in 1:56 or faster and 9 of 10 hit or eclipse 1:58.

Racing resumes Saturday (July 9) at 4 p.m., with the extended pari-mutuel meeting active each weekend through July 23.  The 28th racing date of the Spring-Summer season features two divisions of the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes for 2-year-old trotter, one off the card, as well as some lively Maine Amateur Driving Club action, sponsored by Blue Seal Feeds.

The final race on both Friday and Saturday features our 20 cent Hi-Five (Pentafecta), with a low takeout of 16%.

More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.

Burns wins first Amateur Race; Cumberland Derby a big hit in Maine

July 3, 2022, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)

CUMBERLAND, ME – Hundreds of fans flocked to First Tracks Cumberland on Saturday (July 2) for the inaugural Cumberland Derby and Family Fun and Value Day.  In addition to a full card of harness racing, and an extended ‘meet and greet’ session with all the top harness drivers, seven lucky fans split $500 in prize money by picking horses in the interactive event.

The day began with a $11,477 Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes (MSBS) pace for 3-year-old colts and geldings. As the wings folded Andy Harrington hustled Storm Artist to the top for trainer Marc Tardif.  While the son of Gaelic Thunder set speedy fractions of 28, 57.3, 1:26 his stable mate Stormin Maverick (Kevin Switzer Jr.) waited patiently for the stretch drive and breezed home in a new lifetime mark of 1:58.3.

Trained by Marc Tardif and owned by Leighton Property, the son of Western Maverick paid $7.20 to win.  Ugotaearnyourstripes finished second; Use Yah Blinkah was third.

Following the second race, all the local professional drivers arrived on the apron for their chance to interact with the fans, sign autographs, pose for selfies, and enjoy a moment of levity.  Among the group with 60,000 lifetime victories and $240 million in collective earnings was Bruce Ranger, Drew & Heath Campbell, Dave Ingraham, Dan Deslandes, Nick Graffam, Matt Athearn, Aaron Hall, Walter Case Jr., and others.  Fans lined up to receive their free, color autograph cards and jumped at the chance to hang out with their favorites.

The reason that these reinsmen were able to take a few races ‘off’ was because the next two races were Maine Amateur Driving Club events, sponsored, as always, by Blue Seal Feeds. 

The third race was captured by Mystical Wally who was driven by Alex Richardson in a wire-to-wire score in 1:58.3.  Trained by Billy DuBois and owned by Gordon DuBois Sr., the 7-year-old son of Jereme’s Jet picked up the 20th victory of his career and paid $10.80 to win.

Tricia Star (Ryan Hall) finished second; Led Schneppelin (Jason Bertolini) was third.

Lucky Michael (Brewster Burns)

The fourth race, the second MADC event was won by driver Brewster Burns, taking his first victory in the ‘greatest side show’ in Maine harness racing.  Moving first over up the backstretch to the ¾ pole in 1:27, Burns hustled Lucky Michael to the lead at the head of the stretch and cruised home to pay dirt in a swift 1:56.2, a new seasonal mark.  Lucky Michael is trained and co-owned by Mike Cushing with Mike Graham and paid $6.00 to win.

Librado Hanover (Ryan Hall) finished second; Worth Watch (Benson Merrill) was third.

Kevin Switzer Jr. and Marc Tardif teamed up for another victory in the MSBS $11,477 filly division, which was won by the 3-year-old Western Maverick filly Deal With It Roman.  Marc Tardif is also the owner and breeder.  She paid $2.40 to win.

Bandolito Blaze finished second; Ranaldi was third.

By this time nearly a hundred fans had entered the Cumberland Derby contest and as the designated ninth race drew closer, seven winners were selected by lot to represent their respective picks.

The winner of the ninth race was post position number 4, Ira Chief, who was driven by Nick Graffam for trainer Mike Graffam.  The winning connections were joined in the winners circle by the Cumberland Derby winners, all wearing their post position T-shirts.  Collectively, they shared $500 in prize money, with the top prize going to the first place finisher.

Cumberland Derby (Ira Chief, Nick Graffam)

Winnie the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association mascot was on hand to meet young fans, who also received free USTA coloring books and crayons.

Kevin Switzer Jr. won three races on the on the program.

Racing resumes Friday (July 8), post time 4 pm.

More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.