Cumberland, ME — Veteran pacer Lucan Hanover showed why he was the heavy favorite in his division of the Gingerbread Series on Friday (Dec. 15) at Cumberland Raceway when he picked up his second consecutive victory.
The 13-year-old millionaire by Western Ideal wired the field in grand fashion in line to owner-trainer Aaron Hall. The winner of 69 races and $1.39 million lifetime held off a late charge from Buerger (Nick Graffam) to prevail by a measured half length in 1:59.4, paying $2.20 to win.
Each of this week’s five legs of the Gingerbread Series went for $5,500, with a $10,000 final slated for Christmas Eve. The series drew a total of 35 entrants for the second round, which will lead to a maximum of three $7,000 consolations should entries allow.
In fact, there was plenty of action and excitement in all the divisions, with the opener resulting in a dead heat between Terror Hall (Wally Watson) and Sixby Hanover (Nick Graffam), who tripped the timer together in 1:58.1 under sunny skies. However, that is where the similarities ended as Terror Hall paid $2.60 to win while Sixby Hanover returned $12.60.
The next division witnessed King Royalty (Dan Deslandes, 1:59.2) jump up and pay $40.00 to win. Bob Marston trains the 12-year-old son of Classic Card Shark, who picked up his first win in his last eight outings, for owner Hallie Bennett.
Dakota Jackson catch-drove Ohoka Johnny N ($6.60) to a wire-to-wire, 4-1/2-length rout in 1:58.3 for trainer Karl Butterfield and owner José Cervantes in the fourth Gingerbread division.
Punters that parlayed some action onto Bet On Joe in the final Gingerbread division reaped rewards as the 8-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight gave his colleagues a front-end tour of the facility and won in 1:59 by 3-1/2 lengths for driver Kevin Switzer Jr. and trainer Bob Marston.
The swiftest race of the day went to former Maine Sire Stakes star So Rock N’ Roll, who scored in 1:57.2 for driver Kevin Switzer Jr. and trainer Benson Merrill. A former infantryman of the Tardif Taskforce, So Rock N’ Roll is a winner of $175,016 and eight races this season. The 3-year-old son of Western Maverick was bred in Maine by Lesley Leighton, who has retained ownership of the quarter-million-dollar lifetime earner.
There is a $456 Pick-5 carryover going into Saturday’s (Dec. 16) card, which also features two $6,000 divisions of the Rudolph Late Closer Pace. Those pacers will be competing for a spot in the $10,000 final, which also offers $7,000 consolations, entries permitting.
On the Sunday (Dec. 17) program, the $6,000 Holly Pace and $6,000 Jack Frost Trot late closers also enjoy two and three second-leg divisions respectively, as well as the $4,400 seventh leg of the Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC), sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of North Yarmouth and Windham.
Looking ahead, Cumberland’s third annual Au Revoir retirement ceremonies are scheduled for Dec. 23. Seventeen 14-year-old Standardbreds will parade in front of the stands, be recognized by the announcer, and feted in the winner’s circle with gifts and prizes. Those still racing are cordially invited to participate in the $6,000 Auld Lang Syne race for older pacers, where the foals of 2009 will be given preference and inside post positions. Trainers are encouraged to check the upcoming condition sheet for more details.
Racing at Cumberland continues on Saturday (Dec. 16); first post is 10:55 a.m. For more information, visit firsttrackscumberland.com.