Day At The Track
Search Results
65 to 80 of 568

Scarborough, Maine - July 23, 2017 ...The deployment of similar strategies often create similar results, but seldom do we witness those strategies result in the tables being turned on the same two harness racing drivers, in such quick succession, as we did at Scarborough Downs on Sunday (7/23). Heath Campbell and Mark Athearn though, found themselves both the beneficiary but then quickly the victim, during a rousing game of 'anything you can do, I can do better' as the two-year-old divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program revisited the seaside oval. Pembroke Dancer sped to a brand new lifetime mark of 2:06.2 in the first of two filly divisions, extending her win streak out to two in a row. Driver Heath Campbell took full advantage of the inside post position to secure the early lead, lulling the field to sleep by reaching the half in 1:04.1. The daughter of CR Power Glide-Spring Laughter girded for battle entering the third turn as Wild Bandita (M. Athearn) recognizing the lack of tempo, pulled the pocket well before the 5/8th pole. Twice they challenged the pacesetters and twice they rolled off stride, as Pembroke Dancer held firm to her advantage out on the point. Pembroke Dancer, trained by Valerie Grondin for owner William Varney, earned the largest share of the $9977 purse. Lilly Longwood (D. Ingraham) finished second for the 3rd time in 6 career starts while American Flambé (M. Cushing) secured the show. Mark Athearn turned the tables on Heath Campbell in the $10,272 colt division as the luck of the draw enabled him to take full advantage of the rail to steer He'salilbitnoble to the early lead. Campbell, driving Pembroke Boss Man, was forced to engage the pacesetter with a first over strategy and just as Athearn rolled off stride in the filly division, Campbell's charge made a series of missteps as the tempo picked up, with He'salilbitnoble ultimately coasting to a brand new mark of 2:03.1. The son of Noble Venture-Litany Hanover is trained by Gretchen Athearn for owner William Phipps. Myreh's God Son (R. Cushing) rallied for the runner-up placing while Cinamatic Venture (G. Mosher) finished third. June Carter Cast responded quite favorably to her new driver assignment on Sunday as Wallace Watson's appearance in the seat helped the daughter of Current Cast-Celebrity Image regain her steady stride after back-to-back starts which featured breaks of stride. The Don Richards trainee easily gained the early lead over the compact grouping after a race day scratch reduced the field to four starters, and the filly was never seriously threatened from that point forth, coasting to the win timed in 2:10.3 while claiming the lion's share of the $9801 purse offering. June Carter Cast is owned by Thomas Dylan and Walter Hight. Katahdin Rose (S. Mac Kenzie) hit the board for the first time in her career by finishing second. Dualpatwitchywoman (M. Athearn) recovered from an early misstep to grab the show dough. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs on Thursday (7/27) afternoon as the three-year-old colt pacing division takes center stage. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday through Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 20, 2017 ... The three-year-old filly pacing division of the Maine Sire Stakes program anchored the harness racing card at Scarborough Downs on Thursday (7/20) and while hopes for success were high among the 12 fillies entered, two dominant forces continued to rack up the wins, much to the delight of their owners but to the chagrin of the competition. Meadows Rosebud remained perfect as a sophomore as she extended her current win streak out to three in a row in the first of the two stakes splits. Guided by driver Eddie Davis, Jr for trainer Ralph Anderson, the daughter of Western Maverick-Rose Of Aquamarine engaged in an insistent sort of campaign on Thursday, bullying her way through three-wide traffic from the start, gaining command after flashing a sizzling 27.4 clocking at the quarter-pole, throttling down that early speed to conserve energy, and then fending off all challenges en route to posting a seasonal best 1:57.4 race time. Meadows Rosebud, who claimed the lion's share of the $10,241 purse, is owned by Lorraine O'Connor. Arabella (D. Campbell) repeatedly hounded the pacesetter before settling for an encouraging runner-up placing. Persephone (H. Campbell) rode the pylons to the show. Pembroke Perfect matched Meadows Rosebud in their pursuit of the perfect season by throwing in yet another dominating performance in the second $10,242 stakes division. Hustled confidently to the early lead by driver Heath Campbell, the filly was never seriously threatened as she strode majestically twice around the half-mile oval. The win was the third of the season for the daughter of Western Maverick-Perfect Launch who is trained by Valerie Grondin for the ownership group of William Varney and Lynn-Marie Plouffe. More impressively though, the win marked the 9th consecutive victory lap for the 2016 freshman pacing champion, a string of wins that remarkably began exactly one year ago to the day. CBF Sunshine (E. Davis Jr) completed a great day at the races for the Ralph Anderson stable by finishing second. Spoxy's Girl (D. Campbell) aggressively secured the show dough. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs on Sunday (7/23) afternoon as the two-year-old trotting divisions revisit the seaside oval. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday and Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine - July 16, 2017 ... The three-year-old trotting divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program made their second consecutive stop at Scarborough Downs on Sunday (7/16) and although stakes season is still relatively young in Maine this year, certain patterns are becoming rather evident. This weekend the theme of the day could well have been "Double Your Pleasure" as all of last week's winners doubled down on winner's circle glory with win streaks beginning to mount on those harness racing charted lines. Fuzzy Sweater overcame an early bobble before the start to extend her win streak to two in a row in the 10,322 filly division in which a grand total of 6 state-bred trotters went to post for a share of the $10,322 purse. Driven by Eddie Davis, Jr for trainer Brian Lamb, the daughter of Noble Venture relied upon on the missteps of others to gain the early lead, before gamely withstanding a surprising and persistent challenge from Noble One (I. Davies) just past the quarter pole, that extended well into the second turn before being repelled at the 3/8th pole. Fuzzy Sweater, owned by Di Stefano & Son Stable, pretty much controlled the tempo from that point on, en route to securing a brand new lifetime Mark of 2:04.2. Mary June Victory (Wallace Watson) eked out the slightest of advantages to claim the bridesmaid share while Noble One settled for the show. Let's Get It All did just that, as the son of Noble Venture-Bimmelibim remained perfect in sophomore stakes competition, spinning his third win in a row in the first of two $10,003 colt trotting divisions. Hustled confidently to the early lead by driver Ron Cushing, the streaking steed was never seriously threatened during the course of the mile, stopping the tele-timer in an unhurried 2:01.2, despite being throttled down in the stretch. Let's Get It All is trained by Heidi Gibbs for the ownership consortium of Lucia Les, Kenneth Clairmont and Ron Cushing. Prydwen (I. Davies) sat second throughout to finish second while Happy Hooligan (N. Graffam) sat third throughout to finish third. Fox Cast and driver Wallace Watson made it two in a row as the tandem sat chilly at the wood behind the expected early speed of Pembroke Morgan (W. Watson) in the second $10,003 colt division. The two came together quickly though as Fox Cast, like a true disciple of the Don Richards stable, pulled just off the 3/8th pole to engage the front runner. The battle continued all the way around to the head of the stretch before Pembroke Morgan rolled off stride under the persistent pressure, allowing Fox Cast to sprint clear. The son of Current Cast-Celebrity Image is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Donald Richards for owners Thomas Dillon and Walter Hight. The win was timed in a lifetime best 2:01.3. Bruizn (K. Ireland) benefited from Pembroke Morgan's break to finish second while Pembroke Morgan recovered his stride in time to cross the wire in third. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs on Thursday (7/20) afternoon as the three-year-old filly pacing division graces the seaside oval. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday and Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 13, 2017 ... Freshman debutants ruled the school at Scarborough Downs on Thursday (7/13) as the two year-old filly pacers of the Maine Sire Stakes program made their second seasonal appearance at the seaside harness racing oval. The state-bred fillies were divided into two flights, each contested for an identical purse of $10,357 per dash. Justcallmedee extended her undefeated streak out to four career wins as the daunting daughter of Deuce Seelster-Justcallmerosie lulled the field to sleep in the opening division. After touring the outer rim through a respectable opening panel of 29.3, driver Mark Athearn jammed on the coaster brakes while fronting the fillies to the wire, eventually to be timed in a leisurely 2:04.2. Justcallmedee is owned by William Phipps and trained by Gretchen Athearn, who entered into a tie with Christopher Hitchcock atop the seasonal trainer standings at the Downs with the victory. Cab Bearnaise (M. Cushing) rallied strongly at 11-1 odds to secure the runner-up placing while Poocham Magic (G. Mosher) rode the pylons for the show. Pembroke Passionly took the pike route to a brand new lifetime mark of 2:02.2 in the second twilight stakes division. The daughter of Western Maverick-B Passionate was deftly guided twice around the oval by driver Heath Campbell for trainer Valerie Grondin, while grabbing her second consecutive front-end score in Maine Sire Stake competition. Pembroke Passionly is owned by the tandem of William Varney and Lynn-Marie Plouffe. She's A Maverick (J. Nason) mounted a determined stretch assault before settling for runner-up honors while Little Honeybadger (M. Graffam) rallied with determination to finish third. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs on Sunday afternoon as the three-year-old trotting divisions revisit the local venue. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards (and Drew Campbell) on a Thursday and Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 9, 2017 ... Drew Campbell held the hot hand at Scarborough Downs on Sunday (7/9) as the man in the orange and black colors engineered a powerful harness racing performance, impressively driving six winners down Victory Lane. The perennial driving champion at the Downs, Campbell got his day started in high gear by scoring wins in the first two dashes of the day, while returning a ridiculously generous $26.40 Daily Double payoff for a ticket with the name "Campbell" at both ends of the gimmick. Taking a few races off to catch his breath, the hot streak resumed quickly though, as Campbell briskly ran off wins in the next four consecutive contests. Drew Campbell currently sits firmly ensconced in his customary seat atop the Scarborough Downs leaders' board with 69 seasonal wins to his credit following Sunday's six-pack performance. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards (and Drew Campbell) on a Thursday and Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 8, 2017 ... Brisk early speed proved not only to be the key winning strategy, but ultimately the saving grace for ALittleBitHipHop, who remained undefeated as a harness racing sophomore, in what would evolved into an incident marred edition of the three-year-old colt class of the Maine Sire Stakes program at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (6/8). Trouble reared its ugly head early in the split, just after the word "Go" was given in fact, as the favored Kevin Switzer trained mutuel-entry of Bilt For Delight and PrinceOfTheForest effectively took themselves out of the contest before entering the first turn. Bilt For Delight veered sharply right as he entered the bend, hooking up and entangling himself with his stable-mate, before impeding and causing interference with half the field. ALittleBitHipHop and driver Eddie Davis, Jr were able to avoid the commotion unfolding behind them, as they sped out to an uncontested early lead before stopping the clock at the wire in a brand new career best 1:57 clocking. Trained by James Smallwood for owner Diane Bryant, the son of Baron Biltmore-Powder Hanover scored his fourth win of the season from four seasonal starts. JustCallMeDino (M. Athearn) parlayed an unimpeded journey to the runner-up placing while Mic Woodrow (M. Graffam), the only other horse to avoid the early mishap, finished third. Maine Sire stakes action returns to the Downs on Thursday (7/13) as the two-year-old filly pacing divisions take their turn at the raceway. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday and Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine - July 6, 2017 ... The sophomore trotting divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program made their premier stop at Scarborough Downs on Thursday (7/6) with a grand total of 16 colts and fillies gathered to vie for their share of purses totaling $30,328, in what remains a rather lucrative, yet apparently under appreciated harness racing opportunity, along the national sire stakes circuit. The common theme in pocketing the lion's share of those rich stakes purses though, was the pocket journey, a strategy that executed flawlessly in all three stakes splits. Let's Get It All remained perfect in sire stakes action this season as he backed up last week's Bangor Raceway score with an identically timed 2:01.3 effort at the Downs, in the first of two colt divisions. Driving for trainer Heidi Gibbs, Ron Cushing sat a patient pocket trip behind King Cast (M. Athearn) before pulling at the head of the stretch, then measuring the 3/4-length margin of victory at the wire. The Noble Venture-Bimmelibim gelding is owned by the consortium of Lucia Les, Kenneth Clairmont and Ron Cushing and claimed the lion's share of the $10,003 purse offering. King Cast held for runner-up honors while Prydwen (I. Davies) finished third. The benefits of the pocket journey continued to hold sway in the second $10,003 colt division as Fox Cast and driver Wallace Watson stalked Pembroke Morgan (H. Campbell) twice around the oval before just nosing out the rabbit at the wire. Trained by Maine State Hall of Fame member Donald Richards for Thomas Dillon and Walter Hight, stalwart owners along the Pine Tree Circuit, the son of Current Cast-Celebrity Image strode to a new lifetime Mark of 2:02.4. Pembroke Morgan settled for second while Bruizn (K. Ireland) was third. Fuzzy Sweater unraveled the best laid plans of the competition in the $10,322 filly division, as the Eddie Davis, Jr piloted state-bred parlayed a perfect pocket strategy en route to establishing a maiden speed standard of 2:05. The daughter of Noble Venture-Fuzzy Slippers tracked the front-running Noble One (I. Davies) throughout the mile before getting the nod at the wire by the slender margin of a head. Fuzzy Sweater is trained by Brian Lamb for owner Di Stefano & Son Stable. Noble One claimed bridesmaid honors while Quote This (M. Cushing) finished third. Maine Sire stakes action returns to the Downs on Saturday (6/8) as the three-year-old colt pacers take their turn in the limelight. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday and Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - July 2, 2017 ... Prodigy of the Maine Sire Stakes program once again graced the seaside oval of Scarborough Downs on Sunday (7/2) as the harness racing two-year-old trotting divisions took center stage on the final session of the holiday weekend. Eleven fillies were split into two divisions carded at just shy of $10,000 per dash, while the 6 colts went post ward for a purse of $10,097. The fillies kicked things off with Shesaharleygirl seemingly proving the old adage that the race often goes to the steadiest of stride. The daughter of Noble Venture-Dynamic Kid executed a flawless front end strategy, en route to registering a maiden-breaking 2:10.4 speed standard, in only her third career start. Matthew Athearn, driving for trainer Gretchen Athearn (who just so happens to be Matty's mom) received accolades in the winner's circle from the consortium of owners including Donald Harmon, Sr., Normand St Clair and Gretchen Athearn. American Flambe (M. Cushing) closed gamely in the lane to secure runner-up honors while sweet Amy O (J. Beckwith) came from off the pace to finish third. The Athearn roster doubled their pleasure in the second filly division as Wild Bandita and driver Mark Athearn (Gretchen's husband this time) sat a rambunctious pocket trip behind Pembroke Dancer (H. Campbell). Ever keen to go on throughout, the freshman lass pounced powerfully at the wire to claim a brand new lifetime mark of 2:06.4 in what was only her third career appearance too. Wild Bandid, a daughter of Boy Band-Wild Pine is owned by Michael Andrew. Pembroke Dancer held for the place while Dualpatwitchywoman (Matt Athearn) another Gretchen Athearn trainee, finished third. The two-year-old colt class proved problematic for many of the contestants, as 4 of the 6 trotters, at one time or another were charted off stride. Myreh's Good Son (R. Cushing) though, one of the few who behaved himself during the contest, opened up a substantial lead over the competition, a lead that he maintained until mid-stretch, when Pembroke Bossman and driver Heath Campbell found their fastest gear, and with determination, just got up over the pacesetter by 1/2-length margin at the wire. Pembroke Bossman, the freshman son of Noble Venture-Phoenicia Hanover is owned by William Varney and trained by Valerie Grondin. Myreh's Good Son held for the place while JJ's Venture (I. Davies) finished third. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to the Downs on Thursday (7/6) as the three-year-old trotting divisions make their 2017 debut at the seaside oval. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday through Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - June 30, 2017 ... The guardians of the Maine Sire Stakes program, let loose their freshman colt combatants, to frolic along the seaside oval at Scarborough Downs on Friday (6/30), as the harness racing two-years-olds made their second career stakes starts following up on last weekend's Bangor debut. Thirteen colts and geldings were split into two divisions to be contested for twin $10,000 (plus) purses, in what remains a relatively lucrative, yet somewhat hidden, opportunity along the national sire stakes circuit. Luceman and driver Kevin Switzer, Jr. held sway in the opening split, choosing a front-end assault while leading the field twice around the oval in a lifetime best 2:01.1 clocking. The son of Western Maverick-Perfect Launch deftly made amends for last week's troubled trip at Bangor, which featured multiple breaks of stride, with a picture perfect example of steadiness of gate and fortitude in Friday's Scarborough appearance. Luceman is owned by Florence O'Keefe and KDK Standarbreds and hails from the roster of noted state of Maine conditioner, Gordon Corey. Thankyouallmyfans (E. Davis, Jr.) sat second throughout to secure runner-up honors. Secret Assault (S. Gray) made a bold power move up the backstretch before settling for third. The magic continued for the ownership group of Florence O'Keefe and KDK Standardbreds in the second division, as the consortium doubled their pleasure with their other stable star, Hoppi, who extended his young undefeated season out to two consecutive scores. The son of Western Maverick - Barbara Ann was put to the sternest test of his young career as he took determined air in the final panel en route to a brand new 1:58.4 speed standard, but proved more than up to the challenge when the dust had settled. Hoppi, who is trained by Kevin Switzer, Sr., gave driver Kevin Switzer, Jr his 5th win on the program. Mylastdime (S.Gray) rallied to secure second while Twelve (E. Davis Jr) dropped back under pressure to finish third. Maine Sire Stakes action returns to the Downs on Sunday (7/2) as the two-year-old trotting divisions invade the seaside oval. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on a Thursday through Saturday schedule at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - June 29, 2017 ... Maine sire stakes racing made a triumphant return to Scarborough Downs on Thursday (6/29) as the harness racing three-year-old filly pacing divisions took center stage, in twin splits, raced for purses in excess of $10,000 apiece. Meadows Rosebud left a little doubt in the outcome of the first division of state-bred lassies as the three-year-old daughter of Western Maverick-Rose of Aquamarine set sail from the rail, never to look back, while she effortlessly piking her rivals twice around the half-mile oval, before coasting to a 5-length margin at the wire. Owned by Lorraine O'Connor of Bedford Massachusetts and trained by veteran roster-master Ralph Anderson, Meadows Rosebud was teamed to her initial three-year-old victory by driver Kevin Switzer, Jr. and timed in 2:00. Downeast Foxy lady (G. Mosher) followed gamely along for runner up honors while Arabella (M. Graffam) rallied for third. Pembrook Perfect wasted precious little time in laying out her plans for her quest for back to back state-of-Maine Championships, as the Queen of last year's freshman set quickly claimed her customary front-end seat, to impressively tally her 9th career victory, timed in 2:00, as she launched her sophomore campaign in picture perfect fashion. The daughter of Western Maverick-Perfect Launch was driven to victory by Heath Campbell for trainer Valerie Grondin, much to the delight of co-owners William Varney and Lynn-Marie Plouffe. Persephone (K Switzer, Jr) stalked throughout while settling for second place honors, while CBF Sunshine (E. Davis, Jr) mounted a credible rally for third. Maine sire stakes action returns to Scarborough Downs Friday afternoon with the two-year-old pacing colt division taking center stage, starting with a 4:30 PM post time. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on Thursday through Saturday at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs    

Scarborough, Maine - June 24, 2017 ... Just as June heralds the beginning of summer, the arrival of Maine Sire Stakes season marks a certain regeneration of hope and a renewal of vigor, as anxious harness racing breeders, owners, trainers and grooms bring their young equine charges to the raceway for the very first time. Under ideal twilight conditions on Saturday (6/24) the freshman filly pacers were the first of the Maine Sire Stakes combatants to arrive at Scarborough Downs this season. They were split into near-twin divisions and sent post-ward for purses of $10,007 and $10,182 respectively Shes A Maverick responded handsomely at every asking in the first stakes division as the daughter of Western Maverick-Fiber Art held off a determined cavalry charge en route to scoring her her first career victory, timed in an in-hand 2:04, much to the delight of her owner, Carolyn Corso of Henderson, Nevada. Driver/trainer John Nason pushed many of his filly's buttons on Saturday with the freshman pacer responding like a veteran campaigner at every asking. When urged to leave from the gate, she quickly made the top. When Nason reined her back to get a parked horse out of his way, she graciously complied. When asked to retake the lead at the half, she accomplished the task so quickly it hardly seemed real. The effort was, all in all, a very polished performance for a filly making only her second career start. Little Honey Badger (M. Graffam) threw in a strong rally bid to secure runner-up honors, while A Thousand Wishes (G. Mosher) held firm for the show. With her premier victory lap now practiced and perfected, Shes A Maverick sets her sights on the summer horizons here in Maine. With nine more $10,000 stakes elimination rounds and a rich $50,000 freshman final in wait in September, who can blame her? Saturday's second stakes division saw JustCallMeDee extend her unbeaten record out to a perfect two for two after seemingly pushing the starting gate out of her way while staking her claim for the early lead. She and driver Mark Athearn had everything their own way until Pembroke Passionly (H. Campbell) took flight to engage as they approached the 3/4-mile station and from that point home the dashing divas matched strides to the wire with Just CallMe Dee extending out to a narrow 3/4-length advantage at the finish. A daughter of Deuce Seelster-Justcallmerosie, JustCallMeDee is owned by William Phipps of Yarmouth, Maine. Pembroke Passionly held for the place while Where Does Time Go (E. Davis, Jr.) finished third. Scarborough Downs is pleased to present twilight harness racing cards on Thursday through Saturday at 4:30 PM (EDT) with the Sunday matinee heading to post at 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

Scarborough, Maine - May 31, 2017 ... Horse supply issues continue to be a major concern in state of Maine harness racing circles with the latest casualty being the Friday twilight card scheduled for June 2 at Scarborough Downs. A total of 19 horses were entered to race on what was to be Scarborough's first Friday program of the season, necessitating the decision to cancel. Live harness racing will be conducted this week on Thursday (6/1), Saturday (6/3) at 4:30 PM and Sunday (6/4) with post time set for 1:30 PM. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs  

SCARBOROUGH — Horse racing fan Craig Varney had driven more than 100 miles from his home in Waldo to watch the opening day of Maine’s harness racing season at Scarborough Downs in late March. When he arrived, things didn’t look good. Plow trucks had pushed head-high mounds of dirty snow against the venue’s dilapidated chain-link fence. Spectators watched the races from within their own idling cars and trucks parked on a nearby hillside or else scrambled over the banks. The facility itself — the mainstay of Maine harness racing, which features horses pulling two-wheeled carts and drivers — was downtrodden and cold, with peeling paint, water-stained ceiling panels, broken windowpanes and bathroom doors that didn’t close. Looming over the dismal scene was the prior day’s news: The track, situated on 500 acres of prime real estate in Scarborough, was under contract with a real estate developer from Massachusetts. Though Scarborough Downs has received an estimated $13 million in state subsidies over the past 12 years, there is no requirement that the new owner continue to operate the property as a racetrack. “If Scarborough goes, this industry has had it,” Varney said. The fate of Scarborough Downs serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when the state subsidizes an industry but fails to set firm goals and ensure accountability, a Pine Tree Watch investigation has found. Since 2005, the state has routed $112 million from the casinos in Bangor and Oxford to the harness racing industry — an average of $9.3 million going to the industry each year. But the financial windfall, the result of a political bargain struck after voters in 2003 authorized slot machines at the state’s commercial racetracks, has done little to shore up the ailing sport of harness racing. With promoters of a proposed southern Maine casino promising yet more revenue for horse racing, the investigation suggests a new infusion of cash would amount to little more than throwing good money after bad. Among the findings: • Reports from regulators warn of an industry on the “brink of viability.” Since 2003, the number of licensed horse owners has fallen by 40 percent, betting on horse racing has dropped by 57 percent and the number of mares bred is down 44 percent, even as the state has subsidized racing prizes, venues, off-track betting parlors and breeding programs. • Lawmakers shoulder some of the blame: Legislation passed in 2004 gave little guidance for how the funds were to be used and asked for little in return. Commercial racetracks and off-track betting parlors, for example, provide no receipts and little after-the-fact accounting for how they spend racino funds. • As interest in horse-racing falters and expenses rise, the industry is increasingly dependent on a handful of wealthy owners. In 2015, the top ten competitors in Sire Stakes races, which promote breeding of horses in Maine, netted $1.11 million in state-subsidized purses, or prize money — more than the combined total of the remaining 69. • Allegations of horse drugging spiked to ‘unprecedented’ levels in 2015. While prosecutions declined in 2016, the bad publicity severely damaged public perception of horse racing, resulting in a “credibility problem” and further discouraging investment in the industry, according to internal surveys and reports. Increasingly, the industry’s solution to its problems has been to push for legislation to authorize more racinos and receive yet more subsidies. In a 2016 survey of horse owners and breeders — among the state’s most avid horse racing participants — respondents ranked “Fear of legislature taking our money” among their top concerns. A good bad year: Doping’s effect on harness racing Proponents say the dire statistics don’t tell the full story and argue that the dollars transferred from the racino and casino revenues help save a flagging Maine tradition and bolster the agricultural economy in rural areas. “It’s a tradeoff,” said Henry Jennings, director of the state’s Harness Racing Commission. “We’re spending money, but we’re helping to maintain an agricultural way of life and a little more open space in parts of the state where it’s disappearing the fastest.” HORSE RACING HITS JACKPOT The 2003 referendum was supposed to change everything for the harness racing industry. That year, Las Vegas casino developer Shawn Scott made big promises when he brought his citizen-initiated legislation to Maine voters: Authorize slot machines at commercial horse racing tracks in Maine, and the proceeds would help save the ailing harness industry. Rep. Don Marean, R-Hollis Photo courtesy of Maine Legislature Rep. Don Marean (R-Hollis), the industry’s most ardent advocate in the Maine Legislature and a horse owner himself, recalls the campaign. “Scott had the dough. But we had the energy,” said Marean. “We were everywhere with horses and people and trailers.” The horsemen came out in droves to support the so-called ‘racino’ referendum: They made videos, TV advertisements, radio spots, appeared at the State House and at legislative hearings — sometimes in full racing garb alongside the muscular and charismatic horses that are the hallmark of their sport. The hard work paid off; the referendum passed. Scott had promised 11 percent of net slot machine revenues to harness racing and agricultural fairs, in addition to funds for college scholarships and prescription drugs for the elderly. But by April 2004, the industry and its lobbyists had negotiated a much sweeter deal for fans of harness racing, according to Pine Tree Watch’s analysis. The final agreement, negotiated after the referendum passed as part of a measure intended to regulate the fledgling slots industry in Maine, directed 1 percent of gross slot revenues to beefing up enforcement of gambling rules. But it also went one step further, dedicating 22 percent of net revenues — double the percentage initially approved by voters — to the harness racing industry, a review of legislative records show. The percentage of revenues going to prescription drugs and scholarships, meanwhile, did not change from the original referendum. The new arrangement included earmarks that would add up to millions over the course of a decade for every facet of the harness racing industry, from supplementing purse, or prize-money, to special funds to support racing at commercial racetracks, betting at off-track gaming parlors, agricultural fairs and even an in-state breeding program for young horses. For industry advocates like Wendy Ireland, who owns a stable in West Gardiner and has lobbied on behalf of the industry, that money was no handout; it was the rightful conclusion to a hard-fought campaign. “We were the key moving force in getting that referendum passed,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the harness racing industry, there would be no slots in the first place.” Marean agrees. “It’s not the state’s money. It’s ours,” he said. “We got that money because we worked for it.” But as the money started to flow, some lawmakers grew skeptical. In 2010, a bipartisan group of legislators of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which oversees the racino funds, scrutinized the arrangement, concluding that the original law gave “very little, if any, direction on how to spend the money.” As a result, they wrote, there was “very little information about how that money is spent.” The lawmakers demanded proof that the money was having the desired effect of shoring up the industry.  “There needs to be transparency and accountability among those who receive slot machine revenues so that the impact of these funds can be thoughtfully measured,” the study concluded. WELFARE INDUSTRY? Seven years later, legislators are asking the same questions. Rep. Louie Luchini, D-Ellsworth Photo courtesy of Maine Legislature On April 5, 2017 — nearly 15 years after the racino referendum — Harness Racing Commission Executive Director Henry Jennings stood before lawmakers, his agency’s annual “Use of Funds” report in hand, struggling to explain exactly how Scarborough Downs and other recipients had spent millions in state funds. When Rep. Louie Luchini (D-Ellsworth) asked him to clarify two pages of the report, a complex jumble of numbers and horse racing and betting jargon that outline how funds are distributed and spent by the industry, Jennings waffled. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me about these two pages,” he said. Then he reminded the committee that the original legislation didn’t put any restrictions on how certain recipients like Scarborough Downs should use the money. Lawmakers fumed. “It’s my seventh year on this committee and we see this every year,” said Rep. Thomas Longstaff (D-Waterville). “Too often we come here, and the answer is: ‘Well, we really don’t know how that’s spent.’ Is there any chance that we can get a more precise accounting of how the funds are used?” Rep. Thomas Longstaff, D-Waterville Photo courtesy of Maine Legislature Jennings’ reports do make one thing clear, however: The industry has continued to decline despite the subsidies. Since 2003, the number of licensed race horse owners declined by 40 percent, betting at live races by 54 percent, and the number of mares bred for the Sire Stakes program dropped by 44 percent. The declines are not news to anyone in the industry, said Marean. “The numbers don’t lie,” he said. “We’re in trouble, there’s no question about that.” But he disagrees that the industry is at fault. The reason for the decline, he said, lies elsewhere: Competition for gambling dollars from the state lottery, out-of-state online wagering, regional casinos and the uncertainty surrounding Scarborough Downs. But lawmakers at the April meeting chided the industry, saying it had failed to market itself for long-term sustainability, becoming too dependent on the ‘cascade’ of funds that come from the Bangor racino. “What we’re doing by not advertising… is making this a welfare industry on state funds,” said Rep. Longstaff. Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford Photo courtesy of Maine Legislature Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford) said she hoped the industry would present a plan beyond more subsidies from a new casino in southern Maine.  “To increase participation in the industry,” she said. “Not necessarily to increase revenue coming from the state.” Marean dismissed their criticisms as a money grab. “VLA [Veterans and Legal Affairs] is asking questions about things they don’t understand because they don’t know how the industry works,” he said. “It gives them a platform to continue to paint a black picture. What someone is after is the cascade money.” INDUSTRY WOES, MONEY FLOWS Despite the industry’s woes and lawmaker scrutiny, the dollars continue to flow unchecked, Pine Tree Watch’s investigation found. The family-owned Scarborough Downs, for example, has received an estimated $13 million from the Fund to Encourage Racing at Maine’s Commercial Tracks, one of several funds to receive proceeds from the Hollywood Casino in Bangor. The annual subsidy, which has averaged around $1.2 million, is based on the number of days raced and amounts to a blank check: the law says nothing about how the money is to be spent, and requires no after-the-fact auditing. Off-track betting takes a piece, and a hit, from gambling in Maine Regulatory filings show that initially, that money was used for “capital improvements.” Early reports submitted to lawmakers included itemized lists of investments: improvements to the electrical system in the horse barns, a new water truck for the track and updates to the smoking lounge. But as Scarborough Downs’ business continued to slide, records suggest the venue stopped investing — even as it continued to take in millions in state subsidies. Specific details on how the funds were being used disappeared from reports, according to Pine Tree Watch’s review of regulatory filings. Representatives of Scarborough Downs did not reply to repeated requests for an interview. In 2014, Henry Jackson, then director of the state’s Harness Racing Commission, began asking questions at the urging of state lawmakers. In an email obtained by Pine Tree Watch, William Manning, an operations analyst at Scarborough Downs, explained that the state’s premier track was losing approximately $13,200 for each day raced in 2014, or $1,387,018 annually. The money transferred from the state, he wrote, had been used to “offset part of its loss suffered every day it conducts live racing.” Former industry lobbyist and horse trainer Wendy Ireland said providing funds to an aging racetrack like Scarborough Downs was probably a bad idea. “Looking back, the legislature made a big mistake there, obviously,” she said. “The facility [at Scarborough Downs] is too big for what we really need. It’s a dinosaur and a tough place to maintain. Could they have spent money a little better, and done things better? Absolutely.” Lawmakers in 2014 asked similar questions of the state’s other commercial racetrack, the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway in Bangor. Michael Hopkins, the manager of live racing there, responded by email in Feb. 19 of that year: “We do not keep any specific breakdowns of how this money is spent, but obviously this is used for operating expenses incurred at the track.” Hopkins, who continues to manage live racing in Bangor, did not reply to repeated requests for an interview. Financial reports submitted to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee in April, however, stated that both Scarborough and Bangor continue to use the funds “to defray general operating expenses.” BIG MONEY, SMALL INDUSTRY Even as the industry has faltered, state subsidies continue to ensure big purses on race day. But the beefed-up prizes — intended to keep racing alive and entice more betting — may not have had the broad benefits that lawmakers intended. While the number of licensed racehorse owners has declined since the state subsidies began, the number of trainers and stable owners has grown, Pine Tree Watch’s investigation found. That’s no coincidence, say industry advocates. “There are more trainers now because the purses have come up. There’s more chance of a return on investment,” said Marean. Prize money for so-called Sire Stakes races, where young, Maine-bred horses compete, for example, has more than doubled, from $770,280 in 2003, the year the referendum passed, to $1.8 million in 2016, a spike largely made possible by state subsidies that industry reports say has made horse owners “extremely happy.” But records show the money provided by the state — a total of $14.7 million over 11 years — has increasingly been won by a smaller and smaller group of wealthy, and sometimes out-of-state, owners who can still afford to compete in a dying and unprofitable industry. In 2015, the top ten breeders had netted $1.11 million in state-subsidized purses, more than the combined total of the bottom 69. Commission emails obtained by Pine Tree Watch also show that in 2014 as much as 20 percent of the total subsidy, or $438,000, had gone to out-of-state horse owners, from places like Nevada, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Brunswick, Canada. When asked why the number of horses bred in the state had declined, a majority of respondents to a September 2016 internal survey of horse owners conducted by the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (MSBOA) mentioned the expense of raising horses and an unwillingness to compete against top breeders. Industry advocates say critics overlook the fact that the benefits of the Sire Stakes program trickle down to a much larger group. “The funds go way beyond just the horse owners,” said stable owner Wendy Ireland. “We have 16 horses at our barn. We have a grain guy. A farrier. A veterinarian. There’s the guy that comes to do my horses’ teeth. And hay suppliers. And then there’s the trailer industry. I could go on and on.” Ireland said several horses at her stable in West Gardiner belong to out-of-state owners yet are trained and raced in Maine; an example, she says, of how the money comes back to Maine even if the owners are from out-of-state. The Harness Racing Commission does not keep data on how much of the money paid out to out-of-state horse owners returns to Maine. Tim Powers, president of the Maine Harness Horseman’s Association, did not reply to repeated requests for an interview. But a recent economic study, conducted by the University of Southern Maine, found that the industry as a whole had generated $57.5 million in goods and services in Maine last year, had employed 1,026 people and had helped preserve 7,174 acres of open space. “People see that there’s a lot of money going to wealthy owners, but they don’t realize how much of it comes back into the economy,” said Ireland. For lawmakers like Rep. Luchini, chair of the legislative committee that oversees the distribution of casino funds, the benefits must be weighed against other potential uses of public dollars in a state with a notoriously tight budget. “Yes, there are benefits, there’s no denying that. Whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs is the question,” Luchini said. Dave Sherwood is a staff reporter for Pine Tree Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news service focused on Maine state government and institutions. Email: dave@pinetreewatch.org. Reprinted with permission of The Portland Press Herald

Scarborough, Maine – April 28, 2017 … Horse supply issues in the state of Maine have made necessary the decision to cancel the Scarborough Downs harness racing card that had been scheduled for Thursday May 4th. Live harness racing will be conducted this weekend on Saturday (4-29) and Sunday (4-30) with post time set for 1:30 PM. The following weekend, the Downs will race on Saturday May 6th (Kentucky Derby Day) with a special post time of 2:00 PM, and on Sunday at the normal 1:30 post. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

Scarborough, Maine - March 25, 2017 ... Saturday (3/25) heralded the start of the 2017 harness racing season in Maine and despite the persistent overcast conditions, it was a great day to be at the track! A huge Opening Day crowd gathered to watch and wager and cheer their favorites home as the horses and drivers strutted out onto the raceway to put on the big show in what was the 67th consecutive Opening Day at the venerable southern Maine racing venue. Always as good as money in the bank, top-rated driver Eddie Davis, Jr. claimed victory in the first dash of the season, sending a pacer from his own stable roster, CHECKISINTHEMAIL, to a sterling gate to wire victory with the majority of fans cashing tickets on the 1-2 favorite, but it was driver Jimmy Whittemore who held the hottest hand on Saturday, as the state of Maine native grabbed top honors in 3 of the 8 races programmed. Scarborough Downs proudly features live harness racing on a Saturday and Sunday schedule with first post time slated for 1:30 PM (EDT). For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. Mike Sweeney    

Scarborough, Maine - March 17, 2017 ... Opening Day for the 2017 harness racing meet at Scarborough Downs remains on track for March 25, although the preliminary round of qualifying races have been rescheduled to Tuesday (3/21) and Wednesday (3/22) at 10:30 AM (EDT). The prep races were originally set to be held on Saturday (3/18) morning, but close to two feet of drifting snow from winter storm Stella, necessitated the schedule change in order to complete a thorough job of track preparation, and thus ensure the safety of the horses and horsemen who will be competing. Not only Scarborough Downs, but race tracks up and down the east coast have been struggling to deal with the aftermath of this week's powerful storm. Monticello Raceway (NY) lost three programs of racing, while Pocono Downs (PA) was forced to postpone their opening day card from Saturday (3/18) to Tuesday (3/21). Realizing the anticipation that both the fans and horsemen hold for the start of the 2017 state of Maine harness racing season, the Downs is pleased to be able to remain on track for its originally scheduled opening day. Beginning on Saturday, March 25, Scarborough Downs will feature live harness racing on a Saturday and Sunday Schedule with post time slated for 1:30 PM (EDT). For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

65 to 80 of 568