Cumberland, ME — Veteran horseman Mark Athearn donned his well-traveled driving colors on Sunday (Dec. 5) at Cumberland and won two of the top trotting classes at the iconic Southern Maine oval.
Under partly sunny skies, the 55-year-old reinsman assumed all of the driving duties behind four horses trained by his wife Gretchen Athearn and owned by Bill Phipps.
In the opener, a $4,500 Open III Trot, the elder Athearn got away second from post five with Namesmuscle while Tough Mac (Andy Harrington) cut fractions of :29.4, 1:01.2, and 1:31 on a track rated ‘good.’
In textbook fashion, Athearn tipped the 9-year-old son of Muscle Mass just past the three-quarter pole and cruised home an easy winner in 2:01.1. Tough Mac held on for second, while Neverdie (Ron Cushing) was third.
Namesmuscle paid $14.80 to win.
Mouthpiece gave Athearn some additional bragging rights when the 6-year-old son of Noble Venture blasted out from behind the starting gate from post six and went right to the top. From there Athearn controlled the tempo and held on to win by a neck in 2:03.1 over The Fourth Estate (Todd O’Dea). Nathaniel (Steve Wilson) finished third.
Mouthpiece paid $3.80 to win and is owned by Yarmouth Lumber’s Bill Phipps.
Throughout the day Mark Athearn, father of 23-year-old driver Matt Athearn, showed the young guns that he had plenty of raceway juice left in his tank. Never missing a check on the day’s card, Mark Athearn finished fourth with Dagget in the $4,500 Open III Trot, and was a close third with Cherry Crown Jewel in the $5,500 Open II Trot.
Although not as active as he once was, Mark Athearn is no stranger to the ovals of New England, having amassed 773 lifetime victories while earning $3,658,441 as a reinsman. Along with his wife Gretchen, they manage a large stable based at the Cumberland Fairgrounds and have enjoyed a banner year with $779,708 in earnings and 64 trips to the winner’s circle.
Bruce Ranger also had two wins on the program, which put him within one victory of Drew Campbell who has 60 wins on the season at Cumberland.
Racing resumes Tuesday (Dec. 7) and Wednesday (Dec. 8), post time for both dates is 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.