Cumberland, ME — Third leading driver Dan Deslandes made a big leap toward catching up with the Cumberland drivers colony frontrunners, winning three races on Tuesday (Dec. 7), including the Grumpy Old Man Pace.
Deslandes wasted no time putting the lively veteran Rocnrolwilneverdie on the front end in the $4,000 event for pacers 10-years-old and older. Scoring from post four, trainer/driver Deslandes hit the gas immediately and controlled the tempo for the entire mile over the muddy surface. By the quarter pole the race was for second place as American Fighter (Nick Graffam) had Aint No Mo (Drew Campbell) lookin’ him in the eye first over.
At the head of the stretch Deslandes put the 11-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover into overdrive and by the time they hit the wire, he had gained 2-1/2 lengths on the rest of the field. Dancin Hill (Bruce Ranger) made it a three-way fight for place and ultimately prevailed to be second best.
Rocnrolwilneverdie is owned by Dan and Jeff Deslandes with Danny King and paid $4.80 to win in 2:05.1 with a minus-three time allowance.
Three divisions of the opening leg of the Rick Cushing Memorial Late Closing Series went postward on the Tuesday card, the first of which resulted in an eye opening $76.40 win ticket for the backers of Bettoriffic.
Matt Athearn got away last and could see them all with 11 lengths separating his horse from Cyclone Pass (Nick Graffam) who had scooted to the front from post five. Out and rolling past the half, Athearn continued to gain ground on the leaders and was back a little over four lengths at the three-quarter pole. By the head of the stretch the 37-1 shot had shortened his gap to two lengths and was poised to charge from fifth and swoop the field down the lane.
Getting up by a length, Athearn gave the 12-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight the 27th victory of his career for owner/trainer Adam Gray. Whatchagonnadoboo (Aaron Hall) finished second and Redbreast Hanover (Wally Watson) was third. The trio combined for a $1,689.70 trifecta.
The second division of the Rick Cushing Memorial was captured by Safety Second (Deslandes/Karl Butterfield), with the third going to Pembroke Ranger (Luke Varnum).
Roderick “Rick” Cushing of Wilton, Maine was a well-respected trainer and driver for more than 40 years on the New England circuit, and is also the late father of Mike and Ron Cushing, who have carried on the family’s commitment and passion for Maine harness racing.
Dan Deslandes’ three wins on the program put him within ten wins of Drew Campbell and Bruce Ranger who are now tied at 60 wins each.
Andy Harrington also won two races on the card, sweeping the late double.
Racing resumes Saturday (Dec. 11) and Sunday (Dec. 12), with post time for both dates at 11 a.m.
Our Winter Festival extended pari-mutuel meeting continues with live harness racing several days each week through Dec. 31. For more information, go to our website at firsttrackscumberland.com.