For Winslow native Reginald Duguay, watching his horse run in the 16th annual Paul Bunyan Invitational at Bangor Raceway today will be the realization of a decade-long goal.
And if Cactus Creek, one of two locally-owned horses in a talented five-horse field competing for a $25,000 purse, winds up winning? Well, that will be sugar cubes and apples on top of the oats.
“Absolutely, this has been my ultimate goal since I started owning horses,” said Reginald Duguay of Winslow, a latecomer to racehorse ownership who bought his first one 10 years ago.
Cactus Creek’s appearance in the small field of today’s 11th race has been two years in the making.
“Fred Nichols [Bangor Raceway race secretary] asked me if I’d put him in last year because they like high quality outside horses for the competition, but my trainer wouldn’t come down from New York,” Duguay said. “This year, I had to bribe him to come.”
That “bribe” to trainer Jamie Gerard of Augusta includes $500 if he wins and $2,500 if he wires the field and sets a track record. Trainers already get 5 percent of the purse money.
It won’t be easy as the field is stacked with talent, and at 6-to-1 odds, Cactus Creek is the longshot. That’s fine with Duguay.
“I don’t give up,” said the former mechanical engineer for Scott Paper Company and Kimberly Clark. “Besides, if he gets off the gate and the driver has enough sense to let him go to the front no matter what, he’s almost unbeatable.”
The favorite in the power-packed field is PH Bestman, a 5-year-old pacer with more than $200,000 in lifetime winnings. The Canadian horse driven by Todd Trites won the $16,000 Governor’s Plate race last Saturday in Prince Edward Island. Trites and P H Bestman will team up again as a 5-2 favorite.
Another big favorite is Doubleshotascotch, a 4-year-old out of New York owned by Robert DiNozzi and driven by Heath Campbell. He’s at 7-2 with oddsmakers.
The rest of the field includes 6-year-old Tireman, owned by Joseph Trice of Hampden and driven by Ron Cushing, and Roman Conqueror N, a 6-year-old gelding driven by Kevin Switzer and owned by Switzer of KDK Standardbreds of Cumberland Center and Golden Hour Stables of Providence, R.I. Tireman’s odds are 5-1 and Roman Conqueror N is at 5-1.
Post time for today’s 13-race card is 1:30 p.m.
Cactus Creek is a former world champion which set an age-division record at the Little Brown Jug in the preliminary races. The horse is a 7-year-old gelding Duguay has only owned for 15 months, but in that span, he has made $103,000 in purse money. Not a bad return on a $12,000 purchase price.
“He’d made $400,000 as a 2- and 3-year-old and a Canadian bought him for $200,000 at age 4 and raced him at 5 and 6, but was dissatisfied, so he got rid of him and sold him to me,” Duguay explained.
Duguay owns five horses, one of which (Hurricane Kelsey) he bought for $4,000 and went on to make $79,000 over a two-year period. Another, Hawaiian Hunk, is averaging $30,000-40,000 a year after Duguay claimed him at the Meadowlands in New Jersey for $15,000.
Another horse named Diba’s Nephew was purchased for $12,500 at Yonkers Raceway despite a hairline fracture in his upper knee. After putting him to pasture for five months, Duguay jogged him himself, eventually got him up to 7 miles a day, and went on to win $39,000 in a year before an injury two years later.
“It’s a crapshoot every time,” Duguay said. “If you hit one good one and it carries your stable, you’re a lucky man.”
Guess that makes Duguay the equivalent of a harness lottery winner.