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Merrill Sweeps Maine Amateur Legs

Published: July 18, 2021 11:15 am ET

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Leading Cumberland Raceway conditioner Benson Merrill showed that he is quite handy in the driver's seat as the 31-year-old reinsman swept both of the final legs in the Maine Amateur Driving Club (MADC) series on Saturday (July 17).

Ten drivers took a shot at the MADC title, and for Merrill, it took him his 11th and 12th attempts of the season to find the winner's circle as a driver. Merrill won the $3,800 MADC 'B' group in race six with his own Worth Watching in 1:58.1, and then the $4,800 'A' division in race 10 with Velocity Sub Z.

Jumping out quickly from post two, Merrill sent the 11-year-old son of Western Terror out to take command of the field, setting smooth fractions and holding off a late-closing Baywood Shadow (Dalton Lee) to prevail by a two-length margin. I Saw Red (Eric Bickmore) finished third. Owned by Michael Wilson, 45-time winner Worth Watching paid $10.20 to win.

In the 'A' division, Merrill pushed hard to get the lead with Velocity Sub Z from post two, only to be challenged on the outside by Plus One (Joe Burke) in a brutal :27.2 first quarter. Heading to the three-eighths pole, Merrill smartly surrendered the lead to the parked favourite Plus One, but perhaps the damage was already done. By the third panel, Merrill sensed a tiring leader and pulled the pocket. Velocity Sub Z looked Plus One right in the eye and went right on by to grab the lead at the head of the stretch and win in 1:58.2. Three Day Forecast (Alex Richardson) finished second; Led Schneppelin (Mike McGee) was third. Owned and trained by Judson Merrill, Velocity Sub Z paid $13.60 to win.

Benson Merrill was surrounded by four generations of family members in the winners circle as the connections accepted the ‘swag bucket’ trophy of stable supplies, presented by Melanie Locke on behalf of the Windham and North Yarmouth Blue Seal Feed stores.

With the victories, Merrill jumped from fourth to first place in the MADC standings. On Saturday, July 24, the Maine Amateur Driving Club will compete for a $7,500 final, as well as make donations to a variety of local and national benefit organizations from funds accrued from driver’s fees of past MADC series.

The $6,500 Winners Over Trot went to Bruizn (Andy Harrington), who redeemed himself following an uncharacteristic break from post seven in his previous start. The towering seven-year-old son of Musclini is owned by Dennis and Deborah Foss and was trained by Kim Ireland. Bruizn, who won by a nose over Northern Skyway (Drew Campbell), paid $16.80.

In Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes action, trainer Valerie Grondin had a one-two punch in her stable entry with Pembroke Legacy (Heath Campbell) and Pembroke Maddi (Drew Campbell) to grab the lion’s share of the $10,147 purse. Both of the two-year-old filly pacers are owned by Bill Varney.

Live harness racing from Cumberland is presented each Tuesday and Saturday through July 31 at 2:30 p.m., and Aug. 4 and 5 at 11 a.m. For more information, go to firsttrackscumberland.com.

(First Tracks Cumberland)


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