First Tracks Cumberland, in collaboration with Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor, has announced a new pacing series to be held at both racetracks throughout July.
“The upcoming Maine Legends Pacing Series is very exciting for harness racing in the state of Maine,” stated Cumberland Race Secretary Marc Reynolds. “This is the first ‘late closer-style’ event offered in 2021, and we anticipate creating additional series as demand grows.”
While this is a great opportunity for Maine horsepeople with a $12,500 guaranteed final purse, the benefits don’t stop there.
Reynolds added, “It has been a pleasure working alongside Paul Verrette to get this series off the ground. His knowledge of the industry in general, coupled with his close connection to New England Standardbreds specifically, has made the prospect of developing and aligning a complementary racing schedule with Bangor such a success. And the winners are the owners, trainers and drivers that compete in the region.”
Named for a two of the most revered Maine harness horsemen of the current era, Freeman Parker and Donnie Richards, the series is unique in that there is no entry fee. In addition, it provides racing opportunities both for horses and geldings and for mares, four years old and older that may be ‘stuck’ between classes. The legs and the finals alternate between Bangor and Cumberland, beginning the week of July 6.
The series is open to pacers that have started for a base claiming price of $6,000 or less since Nov. 1, 2020, and have not won for a base claiming price exceeding $8,000, or have not won a race for a purse of $10,000 or more from Nov. 1, 2020, through date of first leg entry.
Living legends in their own right, Freeman Parker and Donnie Richards each amassed over 4,000 driving wins in their respective careers, which spanned numerous decades. Both are well known and much admired for their horsemanship and on-track success throughout New England, as well as their humility and kindness off the track.
Although they hung up their driving colours a few years back, Richards still trains a few horses and just won a race at Cumberland last week.
Parker Freeman’s passion for harness racing is still as strong as ever. On nearly a daily basis he stops by to visit Eddie Fournier, his longtime friend and horse trainer who keeps his horses in Auburn, Maine.
Racing from Cumberland is presented live each Tuesday and Saturday, through July 31, with a new post time of 2:30 p.m. For more information, visit their website.
(First Tracks Cumberland)