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Scarborough Downs Holds Final Card

Published: November 28, 2020 5:18 pm ET

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The 25-minute trip down I-95 for Wallace Watson was certainly worth his time on Saturday (Nov. 28) as he not only won his lone drive of the day at Scarborough Downs, he etched his name in the annals of harness racing history with a bittersweet footnote as the final winning driver in the track's 70-year history.

Watson engineered a second-over tow with Goin Manstyle behind favoured Oh Whata Nightjohn (Aaron Hall), tipped off that one's helmet and sprinted by late to connect for the 2:02.1 victory in the $3,600 pace. Watson also bred and owns the 10-year-old Ashlees Big Guy gelding, trained by his wife Lisa Watson of nearby Cumberland, Me.

The Maine half-mile track and its cavernous 6,500-seat grandstand were sold in 2018 to real estate developers Crossroads Holdings LLC, along with the 500-plus acres of land surrounding the track.

"It's the best time for us to just step aside and allow the industry to move forward in some other manner," track announcer Mike Sweeney told Newscenter Maine. "When we shut the lights out today we're going to leave with our heads held high knowing that we did what we could."

Longtime fan Alice Jack of South Portland wanted to be a part of history and see the horses at Scarborough Downs one last time.

"I love these creatures so much. It's so amazing to see all the incredible things that they can do and I guess I wanted to be here for the last day. Just, it felt right."

The track will still offer simulcast wagering through the end of 2020, and will reportedly apply to do the same in 2021 after averaging nearly $8 million a year in simulcast handle over the past three years — a much rosier figure than the roughly $810,000 in on-track handle over 72 Scarborough programs in 2019.

For the time being, the closure of Scarborough Downs relegates harness racing in the Pine Tree State to Bangor Raceway as well as its rich county fair circuit.

The Portland Press Herald has compiled a gallery of photos from the final day of harness racing at Scarborough Downs, available here.

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