While Scarborough Downs is grabbing Maine’s harness racing spotlight with the running of the $300,000 Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes finals Sunday, Bangor Raceway will also be a destination for those interested in harness racing, horses, and history.
Bangor Raceway, normally quiet and fairly calm this time of year, will host a full slate of harness racing as well as the inaugural “History Marches On: A Family Day at Bass Park” event organized and run by the Bangor Museum and Center for History.
“We’re hoping this becomes an annual event,” said Willow Martin, Bangor Museum volunteer coordinator. “We were trying to come up with a way to raise funds for the Bangor Museum that would be family-oriented and fun as well.”
After museum president Jean Deighan pitched the idea to host an event at Bass Park, John Johnson and the rest of the museum board members ran with it. It was a no-brainer for Johnson, who also happens to be general manager for Hollywood Slots and Bangor Raceway and OTB (off-track betting).
“We started planning this back in July,” Martin explained. “We were offered access to Bass Park and the track for a day and thought it was a wonderful opportunity.”
The daylong event celebrating the history of Bangor and Bangor Historic Track starts at 11 a.m. and lasts, according to Bangor Raceway race director Fred Nichols, until “everyone gets tired out and leaves.” Bangor Raceway will also hold a full, 12-race program. Post time for the first race is 1:30 p.m.
“We’re hoping we have a big crowd,” said Nichols. “It’s a good way to introduce people to the track, its history, and the industry in general. And for us, it’s a good combination of civic involvement and promotion of history, both for Bangor and the track.”
Some of the events to be put on by the museum and Bangor Raceway include a petting zoo run by the University of Maine cooperative extension in the livestock barns; a cider press on loan from Leonards’ Mills in Bradley; a storyteller from UMaine; barn tours; a blacksmith demonstration; a birch bark canoe exhibit by the Penobscot Indian Nation; pumpkin painting, souvenir photos in sulkies and at the petting zoo; a Civil War dispensary exhibition, hay rides to the grandstand, petting zoo and back barns; and access to the trainers and drivers, who will be available for questions through the day.
“This will hopefully make people aware we’re here,” Martin said. “There’s so much history in Bangor that a lot of people really don’t know about, and the racetrack here is a big part of that history. It also gives them a historical aspect of the track that’s not just about betting on horses.”
Scarborough will be a prime destination for horse and harness racing fans Sunday as Scarborough Downs hosts Maine’s richest day in harness racing history.
The $300,000 Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes 3-year-old trotting and pacing finals feature four championship races, each offering a purse of more than $70,000. Post time for the first race is noon.
The richest purse ($72,479) is for 3-year-old colts and gelding pacers in the seventh race. The favorite is points leader Pembroke Deluxe, a horse owned and bred by William Varney of Bangor. Valerie Grondin is the trainer. Other contenders are Varney’s Pembroke Touch and Peter Mills, bred by Gary Mosher of Belgrade.
In the 3-year-old filly pacers final ($72,436), Landmark Precious of New York is the favorite and points leader, but other contenders are Race Me Whinny of Westbrook; Lovely Lil, a horse out of Rhode Island bred in Bridgton; and CK’s Dragon, owned by East Pond Stable of Oakland and trained by Eric Bickmore.
Gorham’s Forward Momentum is favored in the 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters race ($70,289) as the points leader, but there are other formidable opponents in Lyman-bred Miles Moving and Gary Mosher-trained and Etna-bred Guess Its True, a horse owned by Yvette Prudenzano of Augusta and Basil Keltis of Wells.
In the 3-year-old filly trotters final ($72,350), points leader Pop N Paula of West Farmington is favored with a huge lead over second-place Hollywood Gossip, owned by Betsey and James Kelley of Millinocket and Gary Hall of Newport. Other contenders are Bad Girl Josie of Lyman, trained by Ivan Davies, and Knotch Hill Kimmie of Springvale.