March 29, 2020

Wishes made for more horses, OTB sites, patrons

Yesterday was the start of a new year and as we optimistically face 1998, most of us will probably make at least one resolution or a wish for the new year. Observing the annual ritual, I asked several people in the Maine harness and fair industry the following two questions: “If there was an horse-related wish list for 1998, what would you add to it and what personal resolution have you made for next year?” Their wishes contain some common threads, but their resolutions vary greatly.

Don Marean, president of the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association: “I would like to see the breeders, Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association, the new Maine Horsemen’s Alliance all join ranks to promote the industry and improve our image. For my own personal resolution, I would like to own a world champion Standardbred.”

Richard Crabtree, chairman of the Maine State Harness Racing Commission: “I would wish for more customers to come through the gate with more money in their pockets and more products to couple with harness racing. I resolve to spend more time smelling the roses.”

Ival “Bud” Cianchette, USTA, District 9, director: “I would like to see greater cooperation among all parties involved, including horsemen’s groups, race track management and the racing commission to improve communications in the industry and help maintain public integrity in the sport. And I resolve to take better care of my health so I can do some of the things that I have waited so long to do.”

Sheridan Smith, acting president of the MHHA: “That the whole industry come together for the betterment of harness racing in Maine and I resolve to do a better job as a MHHA representative for Maine horsemen.”

Dana Childs, horse-farm breeder: “I wish the day was here when all breeder’s stakes finals go in sub-two minutes with $50,000 purses in each division. With a couple of more OTBs, that is a real possibility. And I resolve to lose some weight – on doctor’s orders.”

Joseph Ricci, owner of Scarborough Downs: “I would like to see the legislature and the governor approve video slots and telebetting, so we can increase our live races and offer bigger purses. For a resolution, I will try to keep the track operating with live racing from March 1 to the end of the following January, taking only the month of February off. That would accomplish my goal of full-time employment for track employees.”

Fred Lunt Jr., president of the Maine Agricultural Fair Association: “I would like to see a much larger horse supply in Maine and more patrons watching live races at the fairs. My personal resolution is to get better organized.”

Fred Nichols, general manager of Bangor Raceway: “I would wish for one or more off-track betting parlors in the Portland area. That would do more for the health of the Maine racing industry than anything I can think of and it would also help increase the horse supply. I resolve to work hard and get my 2-year-old Maladys Atom filly, Cynwyd, ready for this year’s Breeders Stakes.”

Henry Jackson, executive director of the MSHRC: “I would wish that harness racing regain a greater portion of the entertainment limelight which it justly deserves. And I resolve two things: first, a better understanding of the total inner workings of the industry; and second, to find a better hiding place where you can’t find me.”

Clayton Murchison, president of County Raceway: “My one big wish is the same one I have every year, more horses. I also resolve to get my 2-year-old Merrilywerollalong colt, Mary Ann’s Big Boy, to the Maine Sire Stakes.

Peter Martin, Waterville off-track betting operator: “I would like to see another wagering choice for the public. My resolution is to increase my

handle next year.”

Pacing Bits: Not much time left for NEWS readers to select their choice for Maine Harness Horse of the Year honors. Make your selection, use the official ballot and drop it in the mail.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like