In the 14 years since Maine voters approved the Hollywood Racino referendum for Bangor, over $112 million dollars has been directed to the state’s harness racing industry. The original referendum dedicated 11 percent of net slot machine revenues to harness racing and agriculture fairs, with additional funds to be set aside for prescription drugs for the elderly plus college scholarship funds. Unfortunately, the terms were later altered and 22 percent of slot machine revenue became dedicated to harness racing. Since that time, the number of licensed Maine horse racing owners has fallen 40 percent, betting on Maine horse racing has fallen 57 percent, while the number of mares bred for racing is down 44 percent, with many horses racing here owned by large out-of-state interests that reap the majority of the purses. Scarborough Downs, the state’s largest harness racing facility, is currently for sale as owners describe “dwindling profits, shrinking attendance, increasing competition from casinos, aging facilities, plus controversies within the industry.” Critics cite “functional obsolescence and deferred maintenance” as other issues as Scarborough Downs has received over $13 million in slot revenue, while claiming to lose $13,200 every day the track operates. Bangor Raceway, which features sulky races five months of the year — its largest event in the past 12 months was a snowmobile race — is no longer necessary justification for Hollywood Slots. Now, as the “racino” regularly simulcasts horse races from all over the country. The saddest part of watching this industry’s decline is that legislators subsidized harness racing with little, if any, oversight, giving on average, $9.3 million a year to tracks, breeders and the industry to do whatever they wished. The results question the wisdom of those acts, as well as the intentions of some of the industry’s key individuals. At a recent hearing before Rep. Louie Luchini’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, Harness Racing Commission Executive Director Henry Jennings tried to explain a confusing industry report thusly: “I was hoping that you wouldn’t ask me about these two pages.” Without controls, measurements or competition, incompetence and corruption are likely to exploit “free” money as morality becomes a short commodity. While no one alleges malfeasance here, citizens are left to wonder why so many hands in such a lucrative cookie jar have benefited so few, with little to show for such large sums of money. At the very least, it is another sign of how not to govern. In a state with chronic social demands for taxpayer dollars, has the distribution of casino takes helped this former family industry or forestalled the inevitable? “Yes, there are benefits … whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs is the question,” Luchini stated. Taxpayers expect government to be good stewards of all monies taken in by the state and its institutions. When the money is easy and free, suddenly more people “will need it.” Is it unreasonable to expect that we simply cannot give tax monies to every idea? Reprinted with permission of The Ellsworth American
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
BANGOR, Maine — Police have released the identity of the racetrack employee who was killed Wednesday in an accident at Bangor Raceway. Edwin “Ed” Reynolds, 64, of Machias died Wednesday afternoon after a starting gate vehicle struck him while he was on the track, Bangor police Sgt. Tim Cotton confirmed in a Thursday morning news release. Reynolds was a longtime employee at the track, where he did groundskeeping and managed the stables, according to previously published reports. He was active in the racing community, owning and breeding horses as well. An internal investigation has been launched, and Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway officials are cooperating with Bangor police and fire personnel and Maine State Police, according to company spokesman Dan Cashman. Races at the Bangor track scheduled for Monday and Tuesday have been canceled and will be rescheduled at a later date, Cashman said. Cashman has said the company planned to bring in grief counselors to help employees. Bangor police said they would release no further information Thursday about the incident. By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff Reprinted with permission of the bangordailynews.com site Watch bangordailynews.com for udpates. Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.
For more than two decades, the Paul Bunyan Pace has been a staple of New England harness racing, the signature race of each Bangor Raceway season. In 2015 the Bunyan Pace has evolved into a three week event, with Bangor and its sister track PlainridgePark each hosting $8,000 legs to determine the field for the $25,000 final to be held in Maine on July 20th. On Monday the second preliminary is the feature race of the day at PlainridgePark. A Sweet Ride, a winner in 1:53 for Kevin Switzer, Jr in last week's leg at Bangor, has been installed as the 7-5 favorite. Only The Lonely, runner-up in the first preliminary leg, will be handled once again by Eddie Davis, Jr., and has been tabbed as second choice in the race at 5-2. However last week's successful duo likely faces a stiff challenge from a pair of newcomers. Calvin B, from the powerful Heidi Rohr Stable, scored 2015's fastest mile at Plainridge, stopping the teletimer in 1:51.3. Denver Dolly, who enjoys the services of leading driver Jim Hardy, established a new lifetime mark of 1:52 while winning an open event at Plainridge earlier this meet. Monday's field also includes Western Victory, the 2014 Paul Bunyan champion. On the board in 10 of 13 appearances this season, the defending champ will be handled by local favorite Wallace Watson. Twin B Spy, a three time winner at the Massachusetts track this season, gets the services of Dude Goodblood, who is rapidly closing in on his 5,000th career driving victory. The Paul Bunyan preliminary leg has been carded as race five on a solid twelve race card that also features the Harness Horsemen's Association of New England Pace. Plainridge Park races each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with first post scheduled at 4:00 P.M.
BANGOR, Maine — Laurie MacKenzie of Plymouth has been involved in the harness racing industry her whole life. Her husband, Gerald “Butch” MacKenzie Jr., was a longtime trainer and driver. Her father, Elmer Ballard, is still involved with racing at Scarborough Downs at age 80. MacKenzie’s daughter, Liz, works as a groom in Bangor and is married to successful driver Kevin Switzer Jr. Despite her deep connections to harness racing, she is concerned about the future of the sport in Maine. “My worry for the people in the state of Maine is that it may not be here some day,” Laurie MacKenzie, who along with her husband gave up the sport in 2010 to work other jobs as they approach retirement, said. “It’s tradition. It has to be here. It can’t go away,” she added. To read the rest of this story click here.
(Wyomissing, PA - August 19, 2014) Penn National Gaming, Inc., (PNGI) the largest operator of Standardbred racetracks in North America, will institute the new Trackmaster automated morning line system at all of its harness racing facilities effective immediately. PNGI owns and operates Hollywood Casino, Hotel and Raceway (Bangor, ME), the new Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, Plainridge Racecourse and Rosecroft Raceway. PNGI is also joint venture partner with Greenwood Racing, Inc. at Freehold Raceway. "This new morning line feature from Trackmaster should help bring consistency to our morning line process and also provide a reliable starting point for our wagering guests," said Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for PNGI. "With the implementation of the USTA's on-line entry system at all of our harness tracks and the use of its automated post position draw system, the Penn Gaming harness tracks are using all the technology tools available to streamline our racing office processes and offer user friendly services to our horsemen and the wagering public," added McErlean. In addition, Rosecroft Raceway will institute a new simulcast graphics system with enhanced racing information and statistics generated by Trackmaster when its summer-fall meet begins September 13. "We think these informative graphic enhancements will help handicappers on-track and at all our simulcast locations," said McErlean. The upcoming Penn National Gaming harness meets include: Plainridge Racecourse: In progress Freehold Raceway: August 28 Rosecroft Raceway: September 13 Dayton Raceway: October 3 Bangor Raceway: October 6 Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PNGI) is the largest operator of pari-mutuel facilities in North America with 12 racetracks in 10 different jurisdictions featuring Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Greyhound racing. PNGI conducts over 1,100 live racing performances a year with over $1 billion in pari-mutuel wagers processed annually. PNGI also operates five off-track wagering facilities and a regional Internet/Telephone account wagering system. PNGI is also one of the largest regional gaming operators in North America with 27 facilities in 18 different jurisdictions with over 31,000 gaming machines, 800 table games and 2,900 hotel rooms. From Penn National Gaming, Inc.
Thursday, July 17, 2014 (Scarborough, Maine) - The two-year-old filly pacing division of the Maine Sire Stakes Program came to Scarborough Downs for the first time this season on Thursday (7/17) following three consecutive starts at Bangor Raceway. While the location was different, the results remained the same with the top three finishers this week precisely mirroring their placings in last. Analyze made it look easy as she grabbed her second straight score racing first up into valid fractions before grabbing the lead and being hand-driven to the wire by owner/trainer Mike Graffam. The daughter of Neutralize, owned by the trio of William Arnold, P. Richard Shaw, and Michael Graffam, claimed the lion's share of the rich $10,343 purse. Time for the mile was 2:00.1. Cat Has A Kitten (Kevin Switzer) was second; with Eat Your Enemy (John Nason) third. In other news: Driver Drew Campbell continued to hold the hot hand on Thursday claiming victory in four of the eight races programmed. Stakes action returns to The Downs on Friday (7/18) with the three-year-old trotting divisions taking center stage. Post time is 4:30 pm. By Mike Sweeney, for Scarborough Downs
Sunday, July 06, 2014 (Scarborough, Maine) - Maine Sire Stakes action returned to Scarborough Downs on Sunday (7/6) with the 3-year-old colt pacers taking center stage, racing three splits for purses in excess of $10,000 per dash. Trainer James Smallwood's roster came to the forefront on Sunday securing top honors in two of the tree divisions. Drama King (Dan Deslandes) mounted a convincing rally to overcome the unexpected early speed of Dansan Clyde before having to dig down deep to withstand the persistent late charge of Whip Chaser. The win marked the third consecutive trip down victory lane for the son of B Dramatic, who is owned by James Smallwood of Windsor, Maine. The mile was timed in a lifetime best of 2:00 flat. Whip Chaser (John Nason) was second; Dansan Clyde (Kevin Switzer, Jr.) faded to third. Alittlebitcountry doubled the pleasure of owner/trainer Smallwood, taking a speedy new lifetime mark of 1:58.4, erasing nearly 5 seconds from his previous best, with driver David Ingraham calling the shots. The son of Ashlee's Big Guy, like his stable mate, rallied smartly to secure his first stakes win of the season, out-dueling David The Saint (Mark Athearn) in the stretch to just get up at the wire. David The Saint was second; With Cracked Ice (Wallace Watson) rallying for the show. Blackmalin (Greg Bowden) took victory in the third division, reclaiming the form that made him a seven-time winner last season. The son of Shady Character led the field twice around the oval to secure his first sophomore score. Owned in tandem by Florence O'Keefe and Dean Malin, the gelding was never seriously threatened during the mile as he glided to an easy three-length margin, timed in 1:58.2, the fastest stakes split of the afternoon. Scarborough Downs was pleased to welcome the 3-year-old trotting divisions of the Maine Sire Stakes program as they relocated to the Seaside Oval after their divisions were rained out at Bangor Raceway on Friday (7/4). Three divisions were carded on a non-wagering basis, with Kate At The Gate (Gary Mosher) claiming victory in the filly division, timed in 2:01.3. The daughter of Current Cast is owned by the East Pond Stable of Waterville, Maine. The colts split out into two divisions with CCC (Kim Ireland), a daughter of Musclini, claiming victory timed in 2:03.2 as she was cheered on by owners Dennis and Deborah Foss of Rye, New Hampshire. Bickmore claimed victory in the second colt division as he made his very first start under the tutelage of driver/trainer Ivan Davies. The son of Noble Venture, owned by Stephen Hall of Newport, Maine, took a brand new lifetime mark of 2:02.1. In other news: Driver Drew Campbell continued to hold the hottest hand, scoring five wins on Sunday's program as he followed up on his grand-slam performance on Saturday. Live racing returns to Scarborough Downs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of next week at 4:30 pm and Sunday at 1:05 pm. By Michael Sweeney
The C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series has been taking annual weekend treks to New England for many years now with races in Maine and in Massachusetts but this season the Scarborough Downs race slated on Saturday, June 28 was cancelled. Still a race went to post at Bangor Raceway in Maine on June 27 and at Plainridge Racecourse in Massachusetts on June 29. At Bangor "Sir Philip" Bo Sowers, who mostly trains and lets others do the driving, donned his driving colors and romped to an oh-so-easy victory with Motown Dreamgirl in a time of 2:01.1. Obviously the best on paper the 8 year old Keystone Nordic mare was sent off as an odds on favorite and she lived up to her billing when she took command early and then made every pole a winning one en route to victory, her fifth of the year. Although Peter "Sycamore Ventures" Gerry had a two-hole trip with Cantabmyway they had all the needed keeping Maine Muscle and Tony "the Capo" Verruso from getting second money in the event. Both trotters finished approximately two lengths behind the winner. Motown Dreamgirl is also trained by Sowers and owned by Standard Ventures. She paid just $2.20 for win. With the Saturday race cancelled the action moved to Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, Mass. on Sunday afternoon. Six trotters went to past there that day and again the odds on favorite CSI What's My Name trotted to victory. His winning time was 1:58.3. Driver Dave" Steady as" Yarock sent the 9-year-old Tagliabue gelding toward the front and looked for a spot along the pylons which he found after the quarter pole behind the pace-setter, Rodeo Red and driver "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo. After following Faraldo past the half and up the backside Yarock moved CSI What's My Name out to challenge and they trotted to the front as they went by three quarters. Once on the lead Yarock's trotter rebuffed a late charge from LF Topaz and driver by "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli to score a 1-1/4 length triumph. Rodeo Red faded and finished third. It was the fourth victory of the season for CSI What's My Name who's co-owned by Yarock, Dave Glasser and Joel Golub. The trotter returned a $3.60 win mutuel. On Saturday July 5 Billings action will be featured over Historic Track in the Cradle of the Trotter. by John Manzi, for the C.K.G.Billings Driving Series
Scarborough, Maine (Friday, June 6, 2014) - Scarborough Downs is preparing to host overflow crowds on Saturday (6/7) as the focus of the world turns to Belmont Park and California Chrome's attempt at Triple Crown immortality. While awaiting the Belmont Stakes, the local fans will be treated to an afternoon of top-level harness racing excitement featuring two $10,000 invitationals; The renewal of the fabled Dirigo Pace and the Triple Crown Trot. Burkentine Hanover has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Dirigo despite being bested in his most recent outing in Open competition at Bangor Raceway. The four-year-old son of Cam's Card Shark, owned by Michele Nelson of Temple, Maine, looms off a convincing score at Plainridge Racecourse (1:51.4) just two starts back and a tantalizingly close third place showing in a leg of the Meadowlands' What A Baron series in April where he was raced timed in 1:49.3. Scarborough's leading driver, Drew Campbell, will sulky-sit for trainer Joseph Nelson and score from post two. Chief to contend will be the classy Art Of Illusion, who remains a perfect three for three in state of Maine competition, included therein, a three length besting of Burkentine Hanover just last weekend. Starting from post three and named the second choice on the morning line at 7-2 odds, this son of Real Artist will once again be handled by driver Kevin Switzer, Jr. for trainer Bo Sowers and cheered on by the Halifax, Nova Scotia contingent headed by owner David MacDonald. The $10,000 Dirigo Pace Invitational will be contested as race nine of the eleven race Scarborough program on Belmont Stakes Day and is made up as follows: 1. PRAMATIC LIFE ... (Driver TBA) ... 6-1 2. BURKENTINE HANOVER (Drew Campbell) 5-2 3. ART OF ILLUSION (Kevin Switzer, Jr.) 7-2 4. MAXINE'S MENACE (David Ingraham) 8-1 5 WESTERN VICTORY (Wallace Watson)10-1 6. COOL RUNNINGS (Eddie Davis, Jr.) 9-2 7. MR NICE GUY (Kevin Switzer). 5-1 Other events happening for Belmont Stakes Day at The Downs: The Downs Club will be open for a BBQ Chicken luncheon, catered by CVC Catering Group of South Portland, for $11.00, which includes meals tax and buffet gratuity. Reservations are recommended, call 207-883-3022. The Downs will also be giving away a $100 win wager to place on the Belmont Stakes race, along with many gift certificates donated by local businesses. Drawings are free to enter, and take place after race 9 on the live race program (must be 18+ to enter, and must be present to win). "We are so excited for this day to finally get here," said Susan Higgins, Scarborough Downs' marketing director. "Triple Crown races always bring us great crowds and give the local fans a chance to see the horse racing that is going on right in their own backyard. We've got an exciting line up on the track for Saturday, and if Chrome wins it, we want people to remember that they watched history here with us, at our iconic track. I'm already working on T-shirt artwork!" For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney, for Scarborough Downs
Scarborough, Maine (May 23, 2014) - The Maine harness racing industry is partnering with the Portland Sea Dogs for the first-ever Harness at Hadlock event, Wednesday, May 28th at 6pm at Hadlock Field in Portland. Members of Maine Harness Racing Promotion Board, the Maine Harness Horsemen's Association and the Maine Standardbred Breeders & Owners association will have a presence at the ballpark to introduce baseball fans to the sport of harness racing. "Like baseball, harness racing in Maine is a very family-oriented sport, and has been bringing families together for over 150 years," said MHHA president, Timothy Powers, DVM. "We are thrilled as an industry to be able to introduce our sport to new fans, to showcase our superb equine athletes, our racing drivers, as well as our enthusiastic fans to Sea Dogs baseball. It's a win-win for both our sports." Program attractions include: Racehorses ROADSHOW VIC and HONORED HALL from the Cushing Stable of Farmington will be at the ballpark entrance to meet and greet fans, Maine's best and brightest harness racing drivers will sign autographs; up-and-coming rookie driver, Nick Graffam, who hails from a long line of industry celebrities, will throw out the first pitch, "Winny," the Promotion Board horse mascot, will be handing out promotional items to the fans. The star attraction of the night will be Maine-bred racehorse, Sea Dog Time, owned and trained by Gretchen and Mark Athearn of North Yarmouth, who will be walked around the bases in front of the fans prior to the game, and be in his horse trailer for a meet and greet with the fans during the game. "The Portland Sea Dogs are looking forward to this "Harness at Hadlock" event," said Sea Dogs Sr. Vice President, John Kameisha. "What better way to kick off the summer season than to attend a great baseball game and support the Maine harness racing industry!" General Admission tickets are being sold at Scarborough Downs, Bangor Raceway and through the MHHA office for $6, with $1 of each pre-sale benefiting the Maine Standardbred Welfare Support Fund; otherwise, cost is $8 at the gate. Doors open at 4:30 pm and the game, which features The Portland Sea Dogs versus the New Britain (CT) Rock Cats, will begin at 6 pm sharp. For more information and tickets, contact Susan Higgins at Scarborough Downs 207-883-4331 x1002, Donna DuBois of the MHHA at 207-641-5431, or call the MHHA office at 207-623-6442. by Susan Higgins, for Scarborough Downs
So at 1:00 pm on Friday, May 10, where was Dave Cochrane? “I was on my computer looking for the live video feed for Harnesslink’s Name The Foal Contest,” Dave said. “I then realized it was not really live so I decided to take a nap and an hour later when I woke up I looked on Harnesslink and there was the name I picked! Beach Showoff!I knew there were others that came up with the same name so I started to read the story and then saw I had won. I was jumping for joy!” Dave has been a devoted Standardbred fan and an active participant in harness racing for most of his life. “I am semi retired now,” Dave said, “I had a 40-year career as a Training Seminar Developer and Speaker. Over the years I have owned more than 50 Standardbreds and drove most of them myself. I was also the backup announcer to the late Hank Fenno at Scarbourth Downs and did a simulcasting handicapping show with him for ten years. I also hosted a horse racing radio show at Plainridge Racecourse in 2001 for an ESPN station in Rhode Island. “I also loved competing in the CKG Billings Series for more than ten years and was a Vice President for the association,” Dave said. So what does Dave have planned for the prize money? “The $1,500 prize will enable me to take an immediate "extended" vacation trip to New England,” Dave explained, “and return to my love of jogging horses in the morning, and warming them up for some busy driver and trainer friends in the afternoon and evenings. My plans include Scarborough Downs, Plainridge Racecourse and Bangor Raceway. All tracks where I was very present at in the years 1995 through 2006. “As you can imagine,” Dave added, “I am quite proud of having my name selected. I have sent out emails to many friends and acquaintances and in my email I gave them a link to Harnesslink to see the story and video. “I want to thank Richard and Joanne Young, the Somebeachsomewhere Syndicate, Hanover Shoe Farms and Harnesslink for sponsoring and coming up with this great contest,” Dave said. “I think events like this are great for promoting our sport and creating interest. I am glad that the name included both the sire and dam. Let’s now hope Beach Showoff will race as well as her parents did!” Here are the final winners in the contest. $1,500 Grand Prize Dave Cochrane, Mississauga, Ontario $250 prize Melissa Keith, Halifax, Nova Scotia $250 prize Blanche Satterfield, Wyoming, Delaware $250 prize Wayne Stapley, Christchurch, New Zealand $250 prize Richard Lease, Jr. Glenville, Pennsylvania By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Scarborough, Maine (Tuesday, January 7, 2013) - The future of Maine's Harness Racing industry may well hang in the balance as the public Hearing for LD 1111, An Act to Allow Maine's Harness Racing Industry to Compete with Casino Gaming, has been scheduled before the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs on Wednesday January 8, 2013 during their afternoon session which is set to begin at 1:00 PM (EST) in room 437 of the State House in Augusta, Maine. This act would amend current legislation to allow an existing racetrack, operating without slot machines, to obtain a slot machine license if approval is granted through a local municipal referendum. It would also provide for the potential of that existing racetrack to move to a new location. "All we're asking for at Scarborough Downs is fairness and a level playing field," said track owner Sharon Terry, "and a chance for a family-owned business with deep Maine roots to continue its proud 64 year legacy of being Maine's premier racing venue. LD 1111 is crucial for the survival of the harness racing industry in Maine." Scarborough Downs has helped carry the water for Maine's harness racing industry for decades and, until very recently, raced annually more days than the agricultural fairs and Bangor Raceway combined. The Downs has raced many unprofitable days in full recognition of their partnership with the horsemen in the state and their role in providing a venue for the horsemen to ply their commerce and to earn a living. Since the advent of casino gaming in Maine, however, the balance of that partnership has shifted. Increasingly, the track has been unfairly discriminated against by state statutes which require Scarborough Downs to race 101 days per year while Bangor Historic Track has a 25 race day requirement despite the fact that it owns the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway and total revenues generated from the Penn National-owned facility has increased 10,000%. Meanwhile, revenue at The Downs has decreased by 21.8% since the first slot machines were turned on in Bangor -- an issue that has only been exacerbated with the opening of the Churchill Downs Casino at Oxford - making it impossible for Scarborough Downs to operate in a profitable manner. As a result, Bangor Historic Track's total gaming and stipend revenues are now 10 times that of The Downs, yet the Downs is required to race 4 days for every day that Bangor is required to race. The passage of LD 1111 would restore balance and stability to Maine's Harness Racing industry, an industry steeped in the state's proud agricultural heritage. Lacking this opportunity to compete the future means the certain demise of one of Maine's most historic icons. Horsemen and supporters of Scarborough Downs will be in the hallways at The State House on Wednesday to show their support of this amendment of the laws on the books for a Maine icon whose future depends on it. by Susan Higgins for Scarborough Downs
Not even the photo finish camera could separate pacesetter Kelly Girl and late closer Southwest Bliss in the third race at Bangor Raceway Tuesday evening. Those two horses finished in a dead heat for win, but the ironic part of the race is that Kelly Girl and driver Drew Campbell had led the field from the opening quarter mile while Southwest Bliss and driver Heath Campbell started out in last place (8th) at the opening quarter mile. The race was a $2,000 pace for non-winners of 3 lifetime and went in 2:04 on the half mile oval. While Kelly Girl held the field at bay on the lead as the wagering favorite, Southwest Bliss at odds of 11-1 flew from eighth place at the half mile marker then went three-wide to loop the field into third place at the three-quarters. Then in a dramatic stretch drive, Heath Campbell and Southwest Bliss were able to collar Kelly Girl and Drew Campbell right at the wire for the dead heat win. Willy Mac (Christopher Nye) was third. For Kelly Girl, a three-year-old filly by Ring Of Life, it was her second victory for trainer Steven Vafiades and owner Jason Vafiades of Maine. Southwest Bliss is a three-year-old filly by Blissfull Hall and it was her third lifetime win. She is trained by Charles Symes and is owned by Teesha Symes of Nova Scotia. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
Driver Kevin Switzer and members of the Harness Racing community present Dr. Lynn M. Bak of Make A Wish Maine, a check for $6,165.40, the total amount raised for "The King Drives for The Kids" fundraiser.
To help promote the work they do with our Standardbred herd, the UMares, and to raise funds for continued work as a team, the Drill Team at the University of Maine is spending the final three Friday nights of the Fall Meet at Bangor Historic Track talking with people about what they do with these retired harness racing horses and conducting a 'rolling 50/50' with a lucky winner being drawn on the last night of this tour.