Harness racing dealt a major blow in Maine

03:51 AM 10 Nov 2011 NZDT
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Scarborough Downs

The future of harness racing at Scarborough Downs was dealt a major blow after Maine voters rejected a proposal for two racinos and a casino by a 55-45 vote in Tuesday's state-wide election.

The Portland Press Herald, Maine's largest newspaper reported that Question 2 would have approved racinos in Biddeford and Washington County, while Question 3 dealt with a casino in Lewston. The latter referendum lost by a margin of 64 per cent.

Voters did approve the expansion of 14 gaming tables at Hollywood Slots in Bangor while construction is on going for a gaming facility in Oxford.

Ocean Properties and Scarborough Downs were seeking to build a racino in nearby Biddeford.That was approved by a 4,137 to 2,684 vote.Biddeford Downs would have been built on 85 acres of land the city owns on the west side of the Maine Turnpike, according to the Portland Press report by Tom Bell.

Question 2 campaign manager Toby McGrath said its the fault of gaming operators who want to keep their manoply in Maine.

The opposition (Oxford and Penn National) called the proposal unwelcome competition.

A poor voter turnout was also given as playing a part in the measure to expand gaming and build a racino in Biddeford.

Scarborough Downs is in its 61st season of serving as Maine's full-time harness racing facility.

The Downs has produced such harness greats over the years as Don Richards, Freeman Parker, Jason Bartlett, Winston Drew Campbell, the Switzer's, Orrin Phipps, Paul Battis, Leigh Fitch, Ruel Goodblood, Randy Bickmore,Walter Hight, Elmer Ballad, Ted Wing, Don Marean and oh so many more.

The track is also is host to Maine's biggest race days with the finals of the Maine Breeders and Owners Association drawing the Pine Tree state's largest crowds of the season.

By Jack GINNETTI

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