With only 10 harness racing victories standing between him and a career mark of 1,000, Smithfield’s Joey Mosher figured he’d reach that significant benchmark this year at his home track.
But after having his application for 12 stall spaces at Bangor Raceway denied and getting escorted from Bangor Historic Park’s grounds by police last week, Mosher will have to accomplish the career mark on the road at Scarborough Downs this season.
The 41-year-old Mosher, who began racing at Bangor in 1986, says his current situation has resulted from an ongoing disagreement with some of the management at Bangor Raceway since bad track conditions and faulty drainage led to the postponement of 13 race dates in April and May last year.
“There’s been something going on between [Bangor Raceway director of operations] Corey [Smith] and myself for the last year,” Mosher said. “It’s about me speaking up for the horsemen. We had one real good argument about the condition of the track and it’s just kind of gone downhill from there.”
“I’d prefer not to comment,” Smith said.
Mosher, who was given a criminal trespass warning and escorted out of the stables by Bangor police officers and Penn National Gaming Co. security guards last Wednesday, will not be permitted to be on Bangor Raceway grounds for one year, according to Bangor police Lt. Jeff Millard.
“When I put my stall application in this spring, he [Smith] just looked at me and chuckled and said I wouldn’t be coming back there,” Mosher said. “They just came over and escorted me out, no notification or anything.”
Millard said the action was done at the request of Penn National security head Mike Hopkins.
“I got a giggle out of it, but I have some pride and it was tough. I mean, it was like I was some kind of criminal,” Mosher said.
Mosher was third in the drivers’ standings for Bangor Raceway last season with 37 wins, 23 second-place finishes, and 17 thirds in 132 starts. He earned $75,094 in purse money.
Mosher will start his racing season next week, a bit earlier than he would have at Bangor, as Scarborough is already racing and Bangor’s season start was postponed until May 8.
In the meantime, he has enlisted the aid of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association.
“I don’t know if Penn can keep me from Bangor Raceway. I have the MHHA working on it,” he said. “I haven’t hired a lawyer yet because I want to see what the MHHA’s person recommends.
Jon Johnson, Penn National Gaming Co.’s general manager for Bangor operations, said he didn’t wish to publicly comment on Mosher.
“My only comment on that is what a private business does is its own business,” Johnson said.
Bangor Raceway has been Mosher’s home venue for 23 years since he started out with six of his own horses. He also operates a small family stable with 14 horses in Smithfield.
“Ninety percent of my clients are Bangor clients and I like racing Bangor so much better because it’s a more family-oriented thing,” said Mosher, who is also a farrier and provided horseshoeing services at Bangor.
Mosher spoke to a local TV station last week about stall space at Bangor Raceway.
“They denied me stalls, but left some of them empty for the Canadian drivers, and they’re tearing down the barns, so they’ll have a hard time filling the box,” said Mosher.