June 06, 2020

Standardbred Breeders Stakes fill void at Maine racetracks

The horse shortage that plagued Bangor Raceway during its extended meet continues to be a problem for summer racing programs at both extended meets and agricultural racing fairs in Maine. But the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes has provided some relief, filling the void with quality races at Maine fair tracks this season.

This week, three tracks – Scarborough Downs, Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle and Topsham Fair – are racing head-to-head. The addition of the third track makes the race secretary’s job extremely difficult to secure enough horses to put together full-cards and competitive, full-fields.

Operating on a 3-day box (horses can race every three days in Maine), the tightness of the horse supply has forced both NMF and Topsham to drop two racing days of their week-long schedules in favor of other attractions on the racetrack. Also, Scarborough Downs, which dropped from a 6-day week to a 5-day race week last week (they dropped Wednesday) has now dropped an additional day (Thursday) from its weekly racing program leaving a 4-day weekly schedule of Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. until further notice.

Post times at NMF are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Post times for the final two days of Topsham Fair are 2 p.m. Friday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The agricultural fair circuit moves back to Skowhegan Raceway on Sunday with post time at 2 p.m. The racing schedule calls for a 7 p.m. post Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. There will be no racing on Tuesday.

During the past two weeks, the MSBA Stakes races have been outstanding. In the first division at Scarborough, in the 2-year-old pacing filly divisions, both wagering events, Donny Richards reined Anita Horn to a victory in 2:03.1, while Walter Case, Jr., drove Sassy ‘n Proud to a divisional win in 2:05.3 for the winner’s share of the $4,834 purse.

In the 2-year-old colt and gelding divisions, Kevin Switzer drove RaceMeHotShot to a 2:00.1 win by better than six lengths for the top end of the $5,120 purse. Leigh Fitch drove Atom’s Surprise to a victory in the second division in 2:00.3 for a $4,919 purse.

In the $4,387 purse, 2-year-old trotting divisions, Walter Case, Jr., took CM Cheval first across the wire in 2:08.1, while Pat Murchison trotted Upsala Kestrel (another Jelly Apple offspring) to her third stakes victory in 2:06.4.

The 3-year-old $5,324 trotting divisions were won by Newengland Nitro and D.T. Sumner, being followed home by West Ridge Gossip, another Jelly Apple son. The second division was copped by Race me Smartypant from seventh to first in 2:08.

The two divisions of the MSBS filly pacers were won by My Bill Cheryl, teamed by Sean Branagan to victory in 2:03.1; and the second division by Gracia and Joey Mosher in 2:03.

At Skowhegan, all stakes divisions except the 3-year-old filly divisions, went as non-betting, pre-race events. The 2-year-old trotting divisions were won by Jim’s Delite and Butch MacKenzie in 2:09.2 and Oak Ridge Arthur and Wade Canney in 2:07.4. In the 2-year-old filly divisions, for purses of $3,633 and $3,784 respectively, Kevin Switzer reined home Somerset Puppet to her second stakes victory while John Davidson and Mudder Rudder won the second division and her first stakes victory in 2:07.4.

In the 2-year-old colt divisions for a purse of $3,769, it was Atom’s Surprise and Leigh Fitch winning his fourth MSBS victory by five lengths in 2:02. Pine River Billy and John Nason made the Skowhegan stop their third stakes victory, winning in 2:05.2. Last week’s winner, Race Me Hot Shot, was scratched, sick.

In the 3-year-old filly divisions for a $5,125 purse, Gracia and Joey Mosher were a repeat of last week, winning by 16 lengths in 2:02.2; while John Davidson paced Jo’s Luck to her first lifetime and stakes victory by two lengths in 2:03.

In the 3-year-old trotting events, Donny Richards kept Starfest on gait and to her first stakes (and lifetime) victory in 2:08. In the second trotting division, it was a repeat of last week, as Newengland-Nitro won by three lengths in 2:06.3, again over West Ridge Gossip and Ray Ireland.lengths in 2:06.3, again over West Ridge Gossip and Ray Ireland.

In the final two stakes divisions of 3-year-old colts and geldings at Skowhegan, SK Hurricane, probably the most outstanding stakes performer this season, kept his record perfect with six victories in six starts. Although barred from wagering, Hurricane won again in 2:03 with Gary Mosher in the sulky rather than regular driver Donny Richards. My Bill Derek rounded out the Skowhegan stakes action, winning in 2:00.3 from the rail with Kevin Switzer driving for owner Alroy Chow of Brunswick.

PACING BITS – The Down East Harness Horsemen’s Association will sponsor and host The Paul Bunyan Summer Classic Horse Show, Aug. 20-21 at Bass Park in Bangor. The double AA show will feature 22 classes, including a Standardbred class, and is sanctioned by the New England Horsemen’s Council, Inc., and the Maine Horse Association. For additional information and catalog, call Brenda Billings at 244-0134, or write DEHHA, P.O. Box 7, West Tremont, Me. 04690.

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