Cumberland, ME — Legendary New England horseman Donnie Richards had plenty to be thankful for this weekend, as his stable star Ry’s Red Rocket picked up her eighth win of the season on Saturday (Nov. 26) at Cumberland.
Driven to victory by Matty ‘Ice’ Athearn, the 5-year-old mare by Sunshine Beach turned a two-hole trip into pay dirt to win the $6,000 Open 3 Pace. Scoring from post six, Athearn left swiftly to get position behind the leader Woody’s Cash Crop (Nick Graffam), who set opening fractions of :28.4 and :58.4.
Moving toward the half, the outer flow included Sports Team (Aaron Hall), who provided cover for favorite See You Friday (Walter Case Jr.). Graffam pushed Woody’s Cash Crop to a 1:27.4 three-quarters while trying to gain some separation from his challengers. At this point, it seemed that Ry’s Red Rocket was hopelessly boxed in, with horses swarming toward the front end.
As the field rounded the final turn, a weary Sports Teen drifted out and provided Athearn with all of the racing room he needed to duck to the outside and pace past the leader, scoring handily by a half length in 1:57.4. Woody’s Cash Crop finished second; See You Friday was third.
Owned and trained by 89-year-old Donnie Richards, 19-time winner Ry’s Red Rocket was bred by Linwood Higgins. A current track record holder and Cumberland Fairgrounds resident, she paid $8.00 to win.
The $6,500 featured Open 2 Pace was a jog through the park for Hespoisedtopounce A, who clocked the fastest win of the day in 1:55.2. Driver Kevin Switzer Jr. hustled the 6-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight out from post four, and easily took command. From that point, no horse got anywhere close to challenging the 1-9 favorite. Rocksapatriot (Dave Ingraham) finished second; Star Speaker (Aaron Hall) was third.
Owned by Anthony Gruppo and Tim Bojarski, Hespoisedtopounce A is trained by Jimmy Nickerson. Picking up his eighth seasonal victory, the fast-class performer has bankrolled $85,740 this season. Hespoisedtopounce A paid $2.20 to win.
Leading reinsman Bruce Ranger enjoyed a hat trick, while Matt Athearn, Aaron Hall and Kevin Switzer Jr. each piloted a pair of winners.
Racing continues Sunday (Nov. 27) with a 10-race program, three of which are trotting events. The featured $6,000 Open 3-4 Trot includes a full field of recent winners, including Osprey Delta (9-2, Mike Stevenson) and A Blue Blood (5-1, Nick Graffam), who will try to upset morning line favorite Little Macabee (5-2, Aaron Hall).
Every race, all weekend long, has a 50-cent trifecta, and the final race each day also features a 20-cent pentafecta.
Cumberland’s extended pari-mutuel harness racing meet runs through Dec. 24, 2022, with post time remaining at 11 a.m. The popular Au Revoir Retirement Showcase for 14-year-old Standardbreds is slated for Dec. 17, with entries due by Nov. 30.
For more information, go to the Cumberland Raceway website.