Maine-breds fill the box at Cumberland

Cumberland, ME – Now that the Maine Sire Stakes have crowned their champions, many of the star 3-year-old pacers are still itching for action in the Pine Tree State.

Due to an overflowing entry box, two dozen races were carded for Saturday (Nov. 18) and Sunday (Nov. 19), many of which include sophomore pacers who have found their way back to First Tracks Cumberland.

So Rock N’ Roll, a product of the Tardif Taskforce, has found a new home in the Benson Merrill Stable now that Marc and Peggy Tardif have transitioned down to Gilcrest Training Center in Bell, FL to prepare their next group of starters. Fresh off a win in his last start, the son of Western Maverick was the second leading point earner in the glamour boys division over the course of the 12-week Maine Sire Stakes season. Despite having finished worse than second just once in 18 starts this year, earning $170,672, he still has some veterans to overcome in this group. Reunited with his part-time pilot Kevin Switzer Jr., he has been installed at 6-1 from post five in Saturday’s second race $4,800 conditioned pace with breeder Leighton Property retaining ownership.

Luke McGook was the top sophomore male pacer in the Maine Sire Stakes. Judy Ellis photo.

His stable mate and arch nemesis Luke McGook, the leading male 3-year-old pacer in Maine, has found a spot in Saturday’s eighth race $5,000 conditioned pace. Also driven by Kevin Switzer Jr., the son of Rock N’ Roll World is the 7-5 favorite for his Leighton Property owners and scores from post two. A winner of nine races in 15 seasonal outings with $107,979 earned, which includes his victory in the $71,134 Maine Sire Stakes final for the Tardif Stable, he is now trained by Benson Merrill.

In the 10th race $4,000 maiden pace, the Maine boys and girls play nice together as fillies Ally Mac (Western Maverick) and Alittlemorebliss (Deuce Seelster) meet geldings Rockaroundsam and Ill Rock The World (both by Rock N’ Roll World) with the dual intention of earning money and a new lifetime mark.

On Sunday’s (Nov. 19) card, Katelyn’s Angel (Western Maverick) rounds out the Leighton Property 3-year-old troika. Kevin Switzer Jr. gets the call on the former Tardif pupil now under the tutelage of Merrill. The successful earner of $96,060 gets saddled with post eight, but still carries the hopes and dreams of the punters and has been set as the 7-5 first choice. The filly has six wins and eight seconds in 18 seasonal starts for her connections and should handle this $4,400 fillies and mares conditioned pace rather easily.

Sunday’s card also features the third $4,400 leg of the Maine Amateur Driving Club, with the dominant Penny’s Spirit (5-2, McKenzie Sowers) assigned post eight. The MADC series is sponsored by the Blue Seal Feed Stores of Windham and North Yarmouth, ME. The Blue Seal Feeds company, through the urging of Aimee Nichols the territory manager for Blue Seal Feeds in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes, has made a generous $5,000 donation to the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association to benefit the horse people adversely affected by the recent Tioga Downs barn fire.

Both the Saturday and Sunday cards will have 12 races with full fields. Wagering options include a Pick-5 starting with the third race; the Pick-4 highlights the ninth, and a High-Five Pentafecta in the finale.

For the third season in a row, First Tracks Cumberland will present the Au Revoir Retirement Showcase, slated for Saturday, Dec. 23. The event is open to 14-year-old horses that are racing or retired and have Maine connections. Horses will parade in front of the fans in either harness or halter and be featured in a half-page bio with photograph in the program. Equine honorees must be present to participate and must ‘declare’ by Dec. 6. To enter a horse, or for more information, send an Email of interest to Chris Tully at:

First Tracks Cumberland in Maine races Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of November and will transition to three days each week (adding Fridays) beginning Dec. 1 and continuing through Christmas Eve, 2023. Post time remains 11 a.m.

For more information go to the track website:

Follow on Facebook at @FirstTracksCumberland.

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