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More than a decade ago, Maine voters gave the green light to slot machine gambling in the state. In making their case to voters, supporters vowed that some of the revenues would prop up the state’s ailing harness racing industry. But recent data show that since then, more than $100 million dollars in slot machine proceeds have gone to the industry in Maine — and it’s still struggling. Back in 2003, lawyer, horse farmer and sometime racehorse driver William Childs spent a lot of time in Augusta, trying to convince the Legislature to approve slot machines in Maine. “It would revitalize harness racing,” he said at the time. “We pretty much race for the same purses now that my grandfather raced for in 1970, and of course the costs haven’t remained the same.” Childs and others viewed slots as a way to revive the beleaguered harness racing industry, keep pastures from getting paved over with parking lots, blacksmiths busy shoeing horses, breeders buying feed and trucks. Voters bought in, and the referendum they passed required slots to be linked with commercial tracks in Scarborough and Bangor. Profits would go to the state’s general fund and to a cascade of other programs, including the harness racing industry. Slot revenues have boosted purses, helped the state’s 26 agricultural fairs and made direct payments to Bangor Raceway and Scarborough Downs — no strings attached. The horses are still trotting at Bangor Raceway, a few hundred yards from Hollywood Casino, which became the state’s first legal gambling venue in 2006. But Scarborough voters refused to authorize slots at their track, and horsemen say that was a big setback. Still, state records show that more than $100 million has been sluiced from gamblers’ pockets to Maine’s harness racing industry and agricultural fairs. But has it done the trick? To try to find out, I recently visited Childs’ horse farm, a 30-acre bit of rural bliss in Westbrook. Race Me Stables is an active place where horses are trained and boarded, lessons are given, and equestriennes can practice their paces. Childs prepared one of his racing pacers, RaceMeAndroid, for a run around a half-mile training track. State Rep. Louis Luchini, an Ellsworth Democrat who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs, which has oversight of Maine’s gambling sector, sees the industry’s benefits to the state, but he points out that there are more pleasure horse owners than racehorse owners in Maine, and that they also benefit the economy. “And we don’t give them any money from the casino,” he said. “[The horsemen’s] argument makes sense. They do have a big impact with agriculture, with the veterinarians, farming. But if you’re giving $100 million to something, you really have to make sure that it works.” If Luchini is re-elected, you can bet he’ll be taking a close look at slot machine funds in the next legislative session. Scarborough, meanwhile, will be asking for permission to reduce the number of race days it holds, while holding on to the $1 million-plus annual stipend it gets from the slots. And members of the harness racing industry? Look for them to find ways to try to breathe new life into a pastime they hope still has a future in Maine. By FRED BEVER Reprinted with permission of Maine Public Broadcasting    

Scarborough, Maine (August 7, 2016) ... Harness racing driver Kevin Switzer, Jr joined the prestigious "Mr. 2000 Club" on Sunday (8/7), notching the milestone win with a powerful performance in the $10,000 Howie Bamford Memorial Invitational before an overflowing 'Family Fun Day' crowd at Scarborough Downs. Driving a horse from his father's roster, the 29-year-old Switzer gunned Race Me Villa off the car, positioning his steed close up in the pocket behind the expected speed of A Sweet Ride. The tandem drafted behind daunting fractions (27.4, 55.4 and 1:24.2) before pouncing three-wide off the final turn to secure the narrow victory over the hard-charging Escape The News (Ron Cushing) to stop the clock in 1:54 flat. Bet You (Heath Campbell) rallied for third. Race Me Villa, a 6-year-old son of Village Jolt, is owned in partnership by KDK Standardbreds of Harrington, Delaware, Kathleen Mofield of Bedford, Massachusetts and John Dickens of Kennebunk, Maine. Scarborough Downs features live harness racing with twilight cards on Friday and Saturday with post time at 4:30 PM (EDT). The Sunday matinees get underway at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs           #      

Scarborough, Maine (July 30, 2016) ... Maine Sire Stakes action returned to Scarborough Downs on Saturday (7/30) with the harness eacing three-year-old state-bred trotting divisions divided into three splits contested for purses in excess of $10,000 apiece. In the opening stakes split, when Noble Yaz stepped up to the plate, he not only won for the very first time in his career, but he also equaled a track record for 3-year-old trotting geldings in the process. Stopping the clock in 2:00 flat, the son of Noble Venture-Sassy Cathy and driver Nick Graffam etched their names in the Scarborough annals, joining another Maine-bred, Bad Boy Billy, who established the standard during the Maine Sire Stakes Finals of 2009. Way to hit one out of the park guys! Scarborough Downs features live harness racing with twilight cards on Friday and Saturday with post time at 4:30 PM (EDT). The Sunday matinees get underway at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine (June 26, 2016) ... Just one day removed from turning 18 and having his driver's license elevated to "Provisional" status, Matty Athearn wasted precious little time in finding the harness racing winner's circle, securing his very first win at an extended meet in his very first start at the Downs! Check the action in the bike as he teams Southwind Inferno first across the finish line after keeping the pacer brave on the lead on Saturday (7/9) - A promising career has only just begun! Scarborough Downs features live harness racing with twilight cards on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with post time at 4:30 PM (EDT). The Sunday matinees get underway at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine (June 26, 2016) ... Dan Deslandes, a 23-year-old state of Maine native, recorded the 500th driving win of his career on Sunday (6/26), keeping the harness racing rookie pacer Golden Tree brave on the lead and holding off a finish line onslaught to reach the milestone victory at Scarborough Downs. Golden Tree was the very same pacer with which Deslandes gained his 499th career score just six days earlier at Bangor Raceway, and despite 20 winless drives sandwiched around the pair, the wait certainly seemed worth the bother, in order to secure the landmark win in rein to such an up-and-coming colt. Deslandes, who has called Scarborough Downs and the New England circuit home in recent years, learned his trade on the backstretch of Saratoga Raceway as a teenager, where he jogged for his father while earning a reputation of responsibility as an in-demand warm up option on race nights. Simultaneously, the aspiring driver was putting in his required time in the morning qualifying events at the SpaCity oval in order to be in position to earn his provisional drivers license immediately upon turning 18 years of age. Once elevated to "P" status, he wasted precious little time in finding the winners circle for the very first time, teaming Miss McIvor N down Saratoga's Victory Lane in August of 2010. Deslandes currently resides in fourth place in the standing of Scarborough Downs drivers colony with 31 seasonal wins; and with the man in red and green colors trailing only the likes of Eddie Davis, Jr., Drew Campbell and Kevin Switzer, Jr. - That's pretty good company to keep. Scarborough Downs features live harness racing with twilight cards on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with post time at 4:30 PM (EDT). The Sunday matinees get underway at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Seven people working in Maine harness racing have been suspended or fined by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for supplying cobalt to their horses, according to a report by Portland TV station WCSH. The seven are drivers, trainers or owners of horses and some are appealing the rulings, according to the report. The use of cobalt is banned as it improves endurance, according to a report on racing.com, and can cause severe side effects in horses. Steven Vafiades of Corinth was hit the hardest for penalties as he has been suspended 450 days and must repay $23,000 in purse money. He also has been fined $2,250. Others who received suspensions of 450 days were Randy Bickmore, Patricia Switzer and Stephen Murchison. Longtime driver Drew Campbell of Scarborough, who has more 3,500 career victories, was suspended for 270 days. He also was fined $1,250 and must repay $2,150 in purse money. Bickmore, Switzer and Murchison were each fined $2,250, and each must repay purse money ranging from $4,000 to almost $11,000. Allison McDonald was ordered to repay $1,250 in purse money, and Frank Hiscock must repay $1,200. The penalties for Bickmore, Campbell, Vafiades and Switzer were apparently handed down by the Maine Harness Racing Commission in February. The commission is part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. A report by harnessracingupdate.com on March 6 said it received a penalty summary for those four people from Henry Jennings, the commission’s acting executive director. Reprinted with permission of The Bangor Daily News 

Bangor Raceway has commenced its 133rd season of harness racing at the track. Over the course of the next few months, the track – operated since 2005 by Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway under the auspices of parent company Penn National Gaming – will play host to nearly 50 racing cards. For much of the summer and into the fall, horses and drivers will be trotting toward victory. Races have been held at the track since 1883. For decades, Bangor Raceway was one of the city’s most popular entertainment centers, with thousands of people coming out to spend an afternoon or evening placing a few bets or just sitting in the grandstand and enjoying the sport. In recent years, the sport’s popularity – and indeed, the popularity of horse racing in general – has declined. Among younger demographics especially, the level of interest has waned. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Anyone who has been to the track knows just how exciting it can be. Whether you’re there to lay the occasional wager on a horse or just to enjoy the thrill of competition, the truth is that there’s a lot to like at the track for anyone. There’s also a lot that goes into making it all work. Just ask Michael Hopkins, manager of live racing for Hollywood Casino – he’s responsible for a lot of it, after all. “Everything that needs doing at the track,” Hopkins said with a chuckle when asked what his duties entailed. “I do my best to take care of what everybody needs. I serve as the liaison with the state, the liaison with [Penn National], the liaison with the horsemen. If a light bulb needs changing, that’s me. If it comes to shoveling horses—t, I’m there.” It all starts with the horses and the facility. “The on-site stables are full,” said Hopkins. “We’ve got 80 horses here. But the horse supply has been getting smaller, which makes it harder to put together dates with full fields.” When you start to look at the numbers involved – every day of operation features 10 races involving eight horses each – it becomes clear just how many people and animals need to be involved. While the track features mostly Maine horses, there are also racers from outside of the state, including a significant number of Canadian competitors. “We get a lot of Canadian racers,” Hopkins said. “We picked up 15 more [from Canada] this year. A lot of the tracks across the border are closing, so they come here. The amenities we have here far outweigh those of other area tracks.” Those amenities are there thanks largely to extensive renovations to the raceway undertaken by Penn National. The old barn was refurbished and a new barn was built; a new paddock was built as well. In addition, upgrades were made to the grandstand and significant work was done on the track. All told, the company spent upwards of $8 million bringing new life to the facility. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with Penn National Gaming – in terms of both their history and their present operation. “If our name’s on it, it needs to be up to our standards,” said Hopkins. “Penn National started as a track owner. They’ve got the highest standards in the racing industry.” “[Penn National] is the largest promotional racing operator in the country,” added Jose Flores, Hollywood Casino’s general manager. “A lot of our properties are racinos; horse racing goes hand in hand with other casino operations.” While the company doesn’t directly track attendance numbers, they do keep an eye on program sales to get a broad idea of how many are in and out. Over the course of the season, approximately 5,000 programs are sold. A good number, but not as good as Hopkins might like. “Harness racing attendance is declining across the board,” Hopkins said. “We’ve got some dedicated souls who turn up for every race, but we’re really looking to get the youth.” It’s worth noting the family-friendliness of a day at the racetrack. Sure, you have to be 18 to place a bet at the raceway, but in terms of just enjoying the sport, it really is an all-ages type of experience. Still, the absence of younger race fans remains an issue. And that absence of younger fans – across the board, not just here in Bangor – has played a major part in the sport’s general sluggishness in terms of growth. “It’s a question of supply and demand,” said Flores. “When demand goes, it’s hard to keep up on the supply side. There’s a waning interest in the sport in general; we reinvest and maintain as best we can.” That reinvestment includes a tripling of purse sizes since Penn National came to town. “It’s a costly sport,” said Hopkins. “Our harness racing support has been a big shot in the arm for the industry here. Harness racing isn’t a huge revenue producer for Hollywood Casino, but ways have been found to maximize it. For instance, thanks to careful scheduling, the amount of export wagering (that is, wagering taking place off-site) has increased. “It’s about the times of races,” said Hopkins. “I try to align our races so that they can move a bit better. We have a great handle on Mondays because so few other tracks are running at that time. “I’m the last one to submit my schedule every year,” he continued. “It’s definitely a chess game.” Truth be told, there are probably more than a few people in and around town – particularly in the younger demographics – that don’t even know that harness racing is still happening over the course of every summer. And that’s a shame, because there’s something special about the experience. It’s one of the few ways that we can truly and directly connect with Bangor’s rich history. Bangor Raceway is a generational touchstone – and generational on both sides of the rail at that. Many Bangor residents grew up attending races with their parents or grandparents - and watching the parents or grandparents of today’s racers trotting around the track. There are few experiences to be had – here or anywhere – that match the up-close excitement you can get from seeing the palpable passion expressed by these racers. It’s a sport out of time, a memory made real. But make no mistake – harness racing is no relic. It is, however, a really good time.- The voice of the track Anyone who has been to Bangor Raceway in recent years has heard Wayne Harvey’s voice. This will be Harvey’s 17th year calling races at the track. He got his start back in May of 2000, serving as a fill-in for the Wednesday night races before becoming the full-time announcer. Harvey was a longtime lover of horse racing, but his exposure to harness racing had been fairly limited. “I have been a horse racing fan since I was a kid,” Harvey said. “I watched all of the Triple Crown prep races with my Dad, but it was always thoroughbred racing. “I had gone to some harness racing at the fairs as a kid,” he continued. “And [I] went to Bangor Raceway a few times in the early 90s. It wasn't until the late 90s when I started dating my current wife that I regularly started going to the track and watching harness racing. Her grandfather owned horses and was involved with Bangor Raceway. We went to the track every Sunday.” But then, Harvey wound up with the gig that would lead to him spending a whole lot more time in the world of harness racing.  “It was the spring of 2000 when the track needed a fill-in announcer,” he said. “Fred Nichols knew me from being at the track and from being on radio and television. He asked if I would be interested in doing it and I said yes.” Of course, that acceptance led to an obvious question. “I asked how you announce a horse race,” said Harvey. “It was a learning curve - and I am still picking up things every race date - but with help I figured out what was going on during the races and figured out how to call them.” The job has led to a considerable affection and profound respect for the sport and its participants. “I love harness racing; that's why I keep coming back,” he said. “I love the sport. I love watching the horses race. I have called thousands of races and each one is different. I have been around a lot of sports behind a microphone and harness racing is so different from all of them - it keeps it exciting. “Seeing the drivers and how they handle the race and the horses…[it] is so different from every other sport. I have never been in a racing bike and the ability the drivers have to maneuver themselves and the horses through the racing is so much fun to watch.” So next time you’re out at the track and you hear an exciting and entertaining race call, now you know a little bit about the voice emanating from the speakers. Bangor Raceway Harness Racing Schedule 2016 May Wednesday, May 11 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, May 13 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, May 16 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 – post time 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21 – post time 2:30 p.m. (Preakness Stakes Day) Monday, May 23 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, May 27 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, May 30 – post time 3 p.m. June Wednesday, June 1 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, June 3 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, June 6 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday June 8 – post time 3 p.m. Saturday, June 11 – post time 2:30 p.m. (Belmont Stakes Day) Monday, June 13 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 15 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, June 17 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, June 20 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 22 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, June 24 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, June 27 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 29 – post time 3 p.m. July Friday, July 1 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, July 4 – post time 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 6 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, July 8 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, July 11 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 13 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, July 15 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, July 18 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, July 22 – post time 6 p.m. September Thursday, September 8 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, September 9 – post time 6 p.m. October Monday, October 17 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, October 19 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, October 21 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, October 24 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, October 26 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, October 28 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, October 31 – post time 3 p.m. November Wednesday, November 2 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, November 4 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, November 7 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 9 – post time 3 p.m. Friday, November 11 – post time 6 p.m. Monday, November 14 – post time 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 16 – post time 3 p.m. Reprinted with permission of The Main Edge

Scarborough Downs will once again host the biggest party of the season on Kentucky Derby Day (Saturday May 7) but this year, particular local attention will be paid to the "greatest two-minutes in sports", as prominent state of Maine horse owners will saddle one of the morning line favorites in the $2-million classic. Exaggerator, who is owned in portion by Old Orchard Beach brothers, George, Jamie and Michael Kerr, will start from post position 11 on Saturday and has been installed as the 8-1 second choice on the morning line by Churchill Downs. The three-year-old son of Curlin is coming off an explosive victory in last month's Santa Anita Derby, an effort which has been described as "...one of the most impressive of this year's Triple Crown prep races." The Kerr brothers, who traditionally view the Derby via simulcast from the Scarborough Downs Clubhouse, will instead be in attendance at Louisville this year, to witness their colt's historic run for the roses. Doors will open at Scarborough Downs at 10:00 AM on Saturday with a 12-race live harness racing program commencing at 2:00 PM. The Kentucky Derby will then take center stage with post time scheduled for 6:34 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Drew Campbell held the hot hand at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (4-23) as the man in the orange and black colors steered five winners down Victory Lane to grab top harness racing honors in half of the ten races programmed. Campbell, who entered the weekend tied with Eddie Davis, Jr atop the drivers' standings, separated himself from his rival (who went winless) and now tops all contenders with 20 wins on the young state of Maine harness season. Scarborough Downs proudly features live harness racing every Saturday and Sunday with post time at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Mitchell Cushing made his very first career start as a Provisional Harness Racing Driver at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (4/2) and wasted precious little time in claiming Victory Lane as his very own territory. The son of noted driver, Ron Cushing, whose license was upgraded after celebrating his 18th birthday earlier this year, kept the classy campaigner, Sign Of Thunder, brave all the way to the finish-line, to cap off a perfectly executed gate to wire strategy in the afternoon's first race. While this may have been the first "P" win for Cushing, it was the 50th career winners circle appearance for the 11-year-old Sign Of Thunder, who just so happens to be owned by young Mr. Cushing himself. What a great combination this rookie driver and veteran pacer make! Scarborough Downs proudly features live harness racing every Saturday and Sunday with post time at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

The 2016 Scarborough Downs harness racing meet opened up to rave reviews on Saturday (3/26) with a generous mix of full fields, speedy miles and blanket finishes on full display, as the enthusiastic opening day crowd roared it's approval. The undisputed stars of the day were trainer Philip "Bo" Sowers and driver Eddie Davis, Jr. who both recorded four wins on the ten race program. The tandem serving notice right from the very first race that this combination of talent would stand as a force to be reckoned with in state of Maine harness racing this season. Davis utilized a patient strategy to claim victory with Clubber Lang, a newcomer to the Sowers roster, sitting a stalking third in the early going of the opening race, before igniting the after burners through a powerful 28-second third quarter, to extend out to an insurmountable lead before coasting to an open-lengths margin timed in 1:56.1. Davis also engineered the winning strategy with two other new arrivals to the Sowers' barn (Body Guard and Lady's Bag Man), before concluding his grand slam day with a victorious nail-biter as Cool Runnings, a member of his own stable, held off a hard charging Sandy Barbie Legacy (Louis Gassbarro, III) by a head at the wire. Sowers' fourth win came in the $6000 feature race event with the 12-year-old veteran, Noble's Grand Slam (Ron Cushing), upsetting the top class contestants at 13-1 odds. With the first of 101 scheduled race cards now in the books, the staff and horsemen at the seaside oval look forward to bringing continued fast paced action to the fans with tomorrow's (3/27) Easter Sunday card set to head to post at 1:30 PM. Scarborough Downs proudly features live harness racing every Saturday and Sunday with post time at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Maine's 2016 harness racing season is set to commence on Saturday (3/26) as the gates at Scarborough Downs swing open for the 66th year in a row. The Downs will launch the season on a two day a week schedule, racing Saturday and Sunday, with post time slated for 1:30 PM (EST) on both days. Well over 200 horses have entered to qualify this spring, a sharp contrast to the weather plagued 2015 season, so the fields will be full and the competition at a fever pitch, which should certainly test the handicapping skills of the local patrons. "We're extremely happy with the number of horses entered for the opening weekend cards and those numbers should translate into very competitive racing," said Scarborough Director of Operations Steve Cobbett, "Currently the staff is putting the finishing touches on all our preparations and we'll be ready and excited to welcome the large expected crowds on Opening Day." Scarborough Downs proudly features live harness racing Saturday and Sunday with post time at 1:30 pm. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Trenton, NJ --- For those who don’t enjoy tears in their eyes or a lump in their throat, find another story. In providing full disclosure, the saga of harness racing owner Bob Tourangeau and his horse, Terrys Star Dragon, will pull at the heartstrings of anyone who understands a human-animal relationship. In a nutshell, Tourangeau successfully urged one of his mares to remain in labor for an extra 15 minutes in order to have a colt born on his daughter’s birthday. This obviously special horse had tremendous success his first two years and, for his own good, the owner sadly sold Terrys Star Dragon at age 3. Further triumphs and an emotional one-day reunion between Tourangeau and Terrys Star Dragon followed, until the horse fell off the radar. His former owner tracked him down, recently re-purchased him, brought him back to Maine and will spend a year getting the 11-year-old in shape before he returns to try and reach $500,000 in career earnings. It’s the kind of stuff old-time after-school kids specials were made of. It all began at 11:45 p.m. on April 7, 2005. Tourangeau’s mare My Radiant Star was in labor and there were 15 minutes remaining until the calendar turned to April 8. That happened to be the birthday of Tourangeau’s late daughter, Terri, who passed away in 1984. “I sat there with my mare and I said ‘Don’t you dare,’” said Tourangeau, now 77. “I was standing outside the stall and I’m saying ‘Hold on, hold on, you can’t do this thing until after 12 o’clock,’ because it had to foaled on the 8th. “I suppose I didn’t have to be melodramatic about it, but I didn’t want to be caught in the situation of him not being born on the 8th. That would have been the first time we would have had a horse born at the same time as one of the family members.” My Radiant Star and her colt obliged as he came out at 12:08 a.m. on April 8. Bob then had the pleasant duty of telling his three teenage granddaughters that they had a simple chore to perform. “We had them try to name horses for us,” Tourangeau said. “I said ‘This one will be easy for you, the horse was born on Terri’s birthday.’ They came back the next day and said ‘That was easy.’” They changed the I to Y in order to avoid gender confusion. Star came from his mare’s name, while Sweet Dragon was his father. Terry not only shared Terri’s birthday, he showed all the characteristics of a future star. “He was described by a trainer when he came out for his first qualifier as A-Rod,” said Tourangeau. “That’s because he’s such an athletic specimen. It was a great way to compare him to Alex Rodriguez because he was the perfect specimen of muscle, size, great conformation. He just looked the part.” Terrys Star Dragon wasted little time setting the tracks of New England ablaze. Trained and driven by Mike Graffam, he won six of nine races and $37,530 at age 2, and won 13 of 14 races and $96,514 at age 3, when he was the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes champion. Tourangeau attended every race and displayed his love and devotion by enrolling the horse in the Full Circle program, which provides contact information to the USTA to be shared in the event the horse can no longer be cared for by its owner or is in imminent need of assistance. But after Terrys Star Dragon’s second season, Tourangeau had to make the toughest decision of his Standardbred career. He and Graffam sold the horse in order to get him better races. “We wanted to give him an opportunity to race at a level we thought he could handle,” Tourangeau said. “He was only going to get better. He was a big, strong athletic horse who never missed a start. The most difficult aspect for me is that I’m on the board of the Maine (Standardbred) Breeders and Owners Association, and we want to keep the best horses in the state of Maine.” Part of true love, however, is giving the one you love what is best for them, regardless of how badly it hurts. “That was a very tough decision,” Tourangeau said. “It was probably the toughest decision of all.” It was the right decision for the horse’s sake, as Terrys Star Dragon raced 196 times after being sold. He has currently won 56 of 219 races and earned $496,599. After selling the horse, Tourangeau watched every one of Terrys Star Dragon’s races on the Internet. Last April, Bob went down to see his grandson, Benjamin, in Florida and decided to drop in and see Terrys Star Dragon at Pompano Park. He had not seen the horse in seven years and, since he left Maine, Tourangeau believes no one called him Terry. “They had a nickname for him,” Tourangeau said. “I didn’t realize it. It never occurred to me.” When Bob and his wife entered the stable, the horse had his back to the entrance. Suddenly, a voice he had not heard was calling him a name he had not been called in seven years. How strong was the bond? “He came right over,” Tourangeau said. “That was the first time I’d seen him since we sold him in 2008. I was crying when he came over. I have a lump in my throat right now just talking about it. The fact that he responded to that name is, well, they say they never forget. He was an imprinted foal. I did the imprinting.” Saying goodbye was excruciating, as Bob wondered if he would ever see him again. He almost wanted to buy him back that day but thought better of it. Shortly thereafter, he did not see Terrys Star Dragon racing anywhere. It turned out the gelding had dropped a suspensory, which was the first injury of his career and led to a layoff. Tourangeau tracked down the owners, brokered a deal and bought his old friend. A network of folks then jumped in to help shuttle the horse back to Maine, where he arrived on Dec. 12. “I have to thank everyone who made this possible,” Tourangeau said. “Our horse community is genuinely a large family.” Graffam will return to train the horse as they take aim on the half-million dollar mark. “I put him back in his old stall,” Tourangeau said. “For the next half hour, the horse never looked at me, all he did was eat. I just talked to him, rubbed his neck and just watched him relax in his old home.” A very special couple reunited once more. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Freehold, NJ --- Sassy Sarah will always be amazing in the eyes of Lisa Saindon. A 14-year-old female pacer, Sassy Sarah won on Nov. 22 at Scarborough Downs to notch her first victory of the year. It was the 64th triumph of the mare’s lengthy harness racing career, and it also was her final one. With mandatory retirement at age 15 looming for Sassy Sarah, Saindon --- who owns and trains the horse --- decided there was no need to go to the track again. “I was thinking about racing her, but I decided I wanted her to go out as a winner,” Saindon said. “She’s not what she used to be, but she gave it her all and raced awesome that day. That’s what I want her to remember.” Saindon has owned Sassy Sarah since October 2012. From the moment the mare stepped into Saindon’s barn, the two created a relationship that goes beyond racing. “We’ve bonded like you wouldn’t believe,” Saindon said. “She’s like a friend. She’s just been amazing. I’ve been doing this since I was 15 or 16. I’ve loved all my horses, but there are a few that just truly touch your heart. She’s one of them. She makes me smile.” Sassy Sarah is a daughter of stallion Village Jiffy out of the mare Intwine. For much of her career prior to the age of 10, she was owned by Ralph Kennedy and trained and driven by Wallace Watson. An ownership change saw her land in the stable of trainer Kevin Switzer for the period of time prior to Saindon buying Sassy Sarah. In 2011, with Switzer, Sassy Sarah set the track record of 1:56.1 for a female pacer at the half-mile oval at the Topsham Fair. In 2013, she was her division’s “Claimer of the Year” at Scarborough Downs. “She was just a tough mare, and that’s what I liked,” Saindon said about purchasing Sassy Sarah. “She’s never done anything wrong. She’s easy to handle. I have nothing negative to say about her.” For her career, she won 64 of 321 races and earned $204,199. Her win on Nov. 22 was her first victory since Oct. 26, 2014 --- which happened to be Saindon’s birthday. Although she went 30 races in between wins, she hit the board 12 times. “She’s always tried for me,” said Saindon, who lives in Bridgton, Maine, and trains a small stable of horses. “There have been a lot of amazing races. Just being with her is the highlight. It’s just been a great experience. “Horses sometimes come to me and they don’t seem to have any personality, but all horses have a personality. It’s there. You just have to bring it out. All the (horses) I’ve got here are all individuals. I’ve never had kids, but these are my kids.” Saindon, who recently discovered Sassy Sarah has a penchant for Dunkin Donuts munchkins, is considering turning the mare into a riding horse. “She’s feeling good and I’m thinking of having a friend help me to see how she would take to it,” Saindon said. “I’m going to keep her here and I’ve got a lot of thinking to do about her future. But she will always be safe.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

The Festival of Champions at Scarborough Downs started off in track record form with Seeley Man and regular pilot Kevin Switzer, Jr., doing his usual, grab the lead and never look back, routine. The son of Western Maverick, in all of his 11 undefeated races, has always been on top at every quarter pole marker. Seeley Man not only capped off his freshman year undefeated for owner Florence O'Keefe of Old Orchard Beach, ME., but he also equaled the track record for two year old pacing colts in 1:57.2. Trainer Gerry Smith commented that this is a special kind of colt and his full capabilities have yet to be seen. Seeley Man upped his seasonal earnings to $74,296 with this 9 length romp and recorded his lifetime fastest mark. Seeley Man is the first foal of Perfect Launch. MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 2 YEAR OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS FINAL - $54,733 Heath Campbell with Pembroke Bada Bing took advantage of the uncharacteristic break, at the start, of undefeated Hes A Castoff. The sighs were loud in the clubhouse when Hes A Castoff jumped it off and Campbell looked to his right knowing that his early challenger would not be in the battle. Pembroke Bada Bing grabbed the lead quite easily and really didn't have an anxious moment as Corupt Commishner made a futile attempt in stretch to catch the winner and had to settle for second while Dusty Venture who sat beside Pembroke Bada Bing, for most of the backstretch, tired to finish third. Pembroke Bada Bing is the son of Current Cast and may have done something that has never been done before. Last week at Plainridge Park Casino he won the finals of the Massachusetts Sire Stakes. It has been a good year and a better past few weeks for trainer Valerie Grondin who ranks third for trainers in the 10-299 category with a .511 UDRS. Owner Bill Varney of Bangor, ME. also owns the mare to this colt (Phoenicia Hanover) and saw another foal of hers win last night at Hollywood Casino Bangor with Pembroke Castaway. Pembroke Bada Bing covered the mile in 2:02.4. MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 3 YEAR OLD FILLIES PACE FINAL - $85,437 Mike Graffam with Analyze displayed her talents to the large Scarborough Downs crowd that were denied last year as this daughter of Neutralize, in 2014, was a bit off trying to overcome a sickness in those finals. This year in good health she did the same overland march again but this time she carried herself all the way to the winners circle in a lifetime equaling best of 1:59. William Arnold, Richard Shaw, and Michael Graffam, all of Maine, own this tough sophomore pacer who had to get it done from post position eight. Mike Graffam, who also trains Analyze, owns the mare to this filly, Analytical, and has another possible champion on the way as he also owns the full brother to this filly by the name of Heisenberg MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 2 YEAR OLD FILLIES FINAL - $54,550 Six went postward and five of them watched the superior performance of Ron Cushing with Gonnakissmeornot. The daughter of Noble Venture recorded a track equaling mile of 2:03 as she recorded her eighth win in 10 starts. This two year old brought her bankroll to just over $70,000 for owners Lynn-Marie Plouffe and Ronald Cushing, both from Maine and Kevin Sywyk of Michigan. Heidi Gibbs trains this filly is averaging just under a 25% win average with her stable. The dam, Wild Pine Princess, is owned by longtime owner/breeder Mike Andrew of Gorham, ME. In a post-race interview Ron Cushing thanked his longtime owner, Kevin Sywyk, for his loyal support in over 25 years of partnering. MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 2 YEAR OLD FILLIES FINAL - $54,783 There is something special when you have raced the mare of a champion and that special feeling was felt by owner Dirk Duncan. Dirk raced French Stepp, the dam of Western Stepp, for many years with the assistance of his wife Sharon. Western Stepp, the daughter of Western Maverick, battled a bit in the beginning but held a little something for the end as she went by favorites Racing For Rick and Ladiesloveoutlaws coming for home. Driver Drew Campbell introduced Western Stepp to her first winners circle picture as she went an impressive 1:58.3. Dr. Denise McNitt interviewed emotional trainer Jim Dunn after the race and it was noted that this was his first finals champion. Dunn said that when this filly wasn't racing well early on that many said that she should be turned out. Dunn consulted his wife and she said that he should continue on and continuing on the filly did. Dunn's owner partnership with Duncan should see some more exciting races as the mare of this filly campaigned for 8 years and recording 45 wins in 155 starts. MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 3 YEAR OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS FINAL - $85,416 The Campbell, Grondin and Varney team did it again this time with Pembroke Jack B. For much of the year the son of CR Power Glide had been watching the tail of Broadway Cast but this day saw a different view. When the photo was developed it was Campbell's steed edging out Broadway Cast in the slimmest of margins. The timer recorded a new lifetime mark for Pembroke Jack B of 2:01.1., with his fifth win of the year. Campbell stated in the winners' circle that it was nice to set a new lifetime mark in the biggest race of the year. MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 3 YEAR OLD FILLIES FINAL - $85,426 Well the combination of Campbell, Grondin and Varney added another smiling face to the Festival of Champions as Lynn Marie Plouffe, who co-owns with Varney, saw Bibbido Boo set a new track record for three year old filly trotters in 1:59.3. Bibbido Boo grabbed the early lead then surrendered to favorite Tropical Trice for just a short period as then Campbell asked for some speed and some distance and got it as she trotted away at the 5/8's marker and went on in the easiest of fashions. Dr. Denise McNitt asked Lynn Marie Plouffe about this filly and Plouffe said that she wanted to sell her but couldn't find a buyer so she asked Varney if he wanted a piece and the rest is history. Speaking of history, Bibbido Boo, as a two year old was undefeated going 10 for 10. This year the wins were not as plentiful but the purse money won was at just over $75,000. MAINE STANDARDBRED BREEDERS STAKES 3 YEAR OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS FINAL - $85.464 Sort of like Bill Murray's Ground Hog Day but with a twist. Again Campbell, Grondin and Varney but this Campbell was Drew and not Heath. Post position eight didn't seem to bother Pembroke Wildcat. Drew Campbell left with the son of Western Maverick and grabbed the lead then relinquished it to stable mate Pembroke Maverick and Heath Campbell. Just past the half heading into the clubhouse turn Kevin Switzer, Jr. got Reckless Rebel into the fray as he challenged Pembroke Maverick to the head of the stretch. Both horses couldn't quite continue the fight which left an opening along the rail for Pembroke Wildcat and Drew took advantage and waltzed home and with that victory. Drew Campbell was just one win shy of win four thousand but he would hit that milestone in his next drive winning with Wishing You Well in the final race of the afternoon in a non-stakes event.. I guess more common than not but Pembroke Wildcat also won the Massachusetts Sire Stakes final last week for his respective category. The Campbell, Grondin and Varney connections have taken advantage of the dual eligibility that is allowed with the Massachusetts Sire Stakes Program. Brother Heath Campbell won his 3,500th last month at the Windsor Fair. by Bill Ellis, Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine (October 24, 2015) - There is something special when you have raced the mare of a harness racing champion and that special feeling was felt by owner Dirk Duncan. Dirk raced French Stepp, the dam of Western Stepp, for many years with the assistance of his wife Sharon. Western Stepp, the daughter of Western Maverick, battled a bit in the beginning but held a little something for the end as she went by favorites Racing For Rick and Ladiesloveoutlaws coming for home. Driver Drew Campbell introduced Western Stepp to her first winners circle picture as she went an impressive 1:58.3. Dr. Denise McNitt interviewed emotional trainer Jim Dunn after the race and it was noted that this was his first finals champion. Dunn said that when this filly wasn't racing well early on that many said that she should be turned out. Dunn consulted his wife and she said that he should continue on and continuing on the filly did. Dunn's owner partnership with Duncan should see some more exciting races as the mare of this filly campaigned for 8 years and recording 45 wins in 155 starts. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Bill Ellis for Scarborough Downs

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