Day At The Track

Athearn dominates Sire Stakes Finals

10:04 AM 13 Oct 2019 NZDT
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The Man Band, harness racing
The Man Band and driver Matthew Athearn
Michael Newman photo

Scarborough, Maine - October 12, 2019 ... A large and enthusiastic crowd converged on Scarborough Downs on Saturday (10/12) to witness the crowning of the Maine Sire Stakes champions as Maine's premier harness racing facility once again played host to Maine's marquee day of racing on Festival of Champions Day.

Purses in excess of $570,000 heightened the anticipation as Maine's preeminent drivers mapped out their strategies, but it was a 21-year-old rising star bursting boldly to the head of the class on Saturday.

Matthew Athearn, winning early and winning often, grabbed top honors in three of the eight Maine Sire Stakes Finals before closing out his grand slam day with a maiden class victory in the afternoon's finale.

Athearn, whose horses earned $132,963 on Saturday, clearly lived up to the nickname "Matty Ice" as he coolly vaulted into forth place in the drivers standings while simultaneously elevating to the status of leading money earner at the meet this year.

Two-year-old Filly Trot Final - $55,045 purse

Athearn's profitable day quickly got underway in the very first race of the day as he guided RT's Warrior to a gate-to-wire score timed in 2:03.2. The win was the third career tally for the daughter of Noble Venture-Oye Oye who is trained by Matty's mother, Gretchen Athearn for owner William Phipps.

"He's a strong willed trotter who wants things his own way" Gretchen remarked, "He certainly got his preferred trip today."

Current Caper (Bruce Ranger) finished second while Gracie Under Fire (Ivan Davies) rallied for third.

Three-year-old Colt Trot Final - $82,157 purse

Athearn's day of acclaim continued later in the program as Hall of Fame conditioner, Donald Richards, sent a pair of trotters to the gate for longtime owners Thomas Dillon and Walter Hight. Wind Current (Current Cast - Flourescent), the less regarded portion of the entry, glided comfortably to the front, en route to an 11-1/2 length manhandling of his fellow high-steppers. The mile was timed in a lifetime best 2:01.2 to give "Matty Ice" his second stakes win of the afternoon.

In Bill We Trust (Shane Taggart) crashed the number at 35-1 odds to finish second while Spot On Gone (Mark Athearn) was elevated to third after Ally Way Cast (the other portion of the Richards entry) was placed out of the money for a pylon rule violation.

Two-year-old Colt Trot Final - $54,948 purse

Athearn scored his third stakes trotting win in this division as he once again chose the front end journey for The Man Band (Boy Band - Cinematic Hanover). The duo maintained a steady advantage throughout the mile before holding off a determined late stretch run by Stevic (Ivan Davies) who fell a mere length shy at the wire. Trained by partial owner Marc Tardif for fellow owner Leighton Property, The Man Band broke his maiden in the biggest engagement of his career on Saturday, stopping the clock in 2:04.4.

Current Connection (Bruce Ranger) completed the top three.

Three-year-old Filly Trot - $82,168

A year of dominant performances continued for Just Enuf Sass on Saturday as the daughter of Boy Band - Sassy's Child toyed with the competition while securing her ninth win of the season for owner-trainer Joseph Flynn with regular driver Michael Stevenson sitting the seat.

"Joe's had this filly good all season long" Stevenson remarked, "Its pretty remarkable how she's grown mentally since she was a two-year-old. She has a bright future ahead of her."

Pembroke Sweets (Heath Campbell) finished second while Winning Wind (Matthew Athearn) battled for third.

Two-year-old Filly Pace - $55,073 purse

Shes A Fireball (Western Maverick - Fire Can Fly) claimed top honors in this freshman filly split after grinding it out in first over style to claim a brand new lifetime mark of 2:00 flat in only the second win of her career. Ron Cushing expertly executed the robust driving strategy for trainer Heidi Gibbs and his co-owner Adams Racing

"She's a moody filly and I had trouble keeping her flat this year" Cushing said, "She was bred from a broodmare I owned with Ken Clairmont but its a little bittersweet as unfortunately we lost Kenny a couple of years ago."

Two Moods (Ivan Davies) was second while Maverick Fiber (John Nason), the post time favorite settled for third.

Two-year-old Colt Pace - $55,095 purse

Chico Estrella (Western Maverick - Madonna Hanover) capped a lightly raced yet brilliant season by scoring her sixth win of the year from only seven starts. Driver Gary Mosher steered the Erika Saucier trainee through an extended first over gambit up the backstretch before clearing to the top by the head of the lane, stopping the clock in 2:01. Out of a blue hen brood mare, Chico Estrella is owned by the stalwart tandem of W J Donovan and the East Pond Stable.

Wesley Snoops (Ivan Davies) finished second at 32-1 odds while Pembroke Hat Trick (David Ingraham) added additional value, finishing third at 18-1 odds.

Three-year-old Filly Pace - $82,184 purse

Wicked Wanda (Deuce Seelster - Wafflesicecream) upset the heavily favored Moonlightandroses after grabbing an advantageous second over journey which was punctuated by a stunning three wide swoop off the final turn with driver David Ingraham calling the shots for owner/trainer Tony Dearborn.

"We got a good trip today, yes that's true" Ingraham mused, "But this mare has been good all year long."

JUstCallMeBets (Matthew Athearn) was second while MayDayMaverickHope finished third at 31-1 odds as the Trifecta payoff came back at a hefty $1346.80.

Three-year-old Colt Pace - $82,195 purse

Trainer Valerie Grondin claimed the lions' share in this sophomore colt final as two of her trainees, Victoria's Maverick (Heath Campbell) and Bait A Hook (David Ingraham) finished first and second respectively. Bait A Hook did all the hard work, racing first over up the backstretch but it was his stablemate who benefited as Victoria's Maverick drafted behind the live cover before sprinting to the lead at the wire.

A brother to Maine Stakes Champions Seeley Man and Pembroke Perfect, the son of Western Maverick - Perfect Launch stopped the clock in a seasonal best 1:58.3 for co-owners Leighton Property and Bruce Plouffe.

CBF Bantam (Gary Mosher) overcame a break at the start to rally for the show.

Even as the Maine Sire Stakes season concludes Scarborough Downs will continue to feature live harness racing every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm (EDT) through the first weekend in December.

For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.

By Michael Sweeney, for Scarborough Downs

 

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