Things got off to a fast start for Bangor’s Bill Varney as the first of his 10 qualifying horses was first to cross the finish line at last weekend’s Maine Sire Stakes championships at Scarborough Downs.
Unfortunately, the only race he was able to see personally before leaving for business was the only one won by one of his horses as his luck proved fleeting.
The Varney-owned contingent would finish the two-day championship weekend event with one win, one place (second) and three shows (thirds).
Varney’s winning entry in the $52,628 2-year-old colt pacing final was driven by Greg Bowden, another Bangor man. Heath Campbell of Corinna drove Pembroke Nick to a third-place finish in the same race.
Campbell ran into some trouble halfway through the race as his sulky briefly locked up with the one pulled by Switz N Swag and driven by Shane Taggart.
“We should have probably been first or second,” Campbell said. “We hooked wheels with Shane Taggart at the three-eighths position, which probably cost me three or four lengths.
“That’s the thing about the 2-year-olds … they’re by far the most challenging races because the horses are still young and more unpredictable because they’re still getting used to racing.”
Varney’s stables scored its other top-three finishes Saturday with Pembroke Playmate, also driven by Campbell, in the $52,672, 2-year-old filly pacing final and with Pembroke Champion in the $52,528, 2-year-old colt trotting final.
The filly pace race at least stayed in the family as it was won by brother Drew Campbell of Lewiston. Drew drove Carly to a lifetime-best time of 2 minutes, 3.3 seconds.
The other 2-year-old champs Saturday were colt trotter Roadshow Vic (2:08.2) and Current Chip (2:04.2) in the $52,611 filly trot.
On Sunday, only one Varney horse scored a top-three finish: Pembroke Whittney in the $77,658 3-year-old filly pacing championship.
Heath Campbell ran into some bad luck again Sunday as an accident heading into the first turn marred the $77,669 colt pacer final. Guapo, driven by Kim Ireland, stumbled and fell, putting himself on an unavoidable collision course with Campbell’s Pembroke Mike. Only minor scrapes and bruises resulted, but both entries were out of the race.
The champions in each 3-year-old final were: Bad Boy Billy, driven by 61-year-old veteran driver Leigh Fitch, won the colt trotting title with a track record time of 2 minutes flat; Thebandfromboston, driven by Gary Mosher, won the $77,577 filly trotting crown in 2:02.2; The Salem Witch with Stephen Mahar in the sulky took the $77,658 filly pace showdown in 2:01.4; and Shawn Gray-driven Signthepaige upset favorite Neutral Court and Mike Graffam in the $77,669 colt pace race with a time of 1:59.3.
Bad Boy Billy’s time was the talk of the track Sunday.
“That really was a remarkable feat, considering the weather on Sunday. It was raw and chilly and the previous record was set in August of 2008,” said Scarborough track announcer Mike Sweeney. “Ironically, the owner of Bad Boy Billy [Michael Andrew] was also the owner of the previous other record holder.”