The records have been falling at Maine harness racing venues lately as fast as leaves in late October.
Gorham native and longtime horse owner Michael Andrew has nearly the cornered the market on those historic performances as three of the record racers are owned by him.
“Yes, we’ve had a phenomenal summer,” said Andrew, a former polo player who got into racing as a co-owner when a friend asked him to go in on half ownership of a horse in 1985.
Thursday night, Andrew’s 2-year-old colt named Bad Boy Billy won a trot race at Scarborough Downs with a time of 2 minutes, 2.3 seconds. Bad Boy Billy broke the previous record (2:04.2) set by Mic Max Express in 1997 and equaled just last week at Scarborough by Current Closer.
“Billy doesn’t even know he’s not supposed to be this good. He just keeps going happily along,” Andrew said.
Andrew has just kept going happily along this week.
The previous night, two Andrew horses — Kanalla Bella and Up Tempo — broke the trotting records for 3-year-old fillies and 3-year-old geldings, respectively, by finishing with times of 2:01 and 1:59.4 at Windsor Fair. Kanalla Bella was driven and trained by Ivan Davies while Up Tempo was driven by Gordon Corey.
Even without his latest successes, it has been quite a summer for Andrew, a professor at the University of New Hampshire and owner of 30 horses.
“I had four horses entered at Scarborough and four at Presque Isle earlier this summer and all of them won,” he said. “And we also won the $50,000 Joe Ricci Memorial Trot at Scarborough with Likeabatoutahell.”
At the Skowhegan State Fair, Bad Boy Billy set a track record of 2:04.2 on Aug. 14 while Up Tempo set a track record of 2:01 and Kanalla Bella tied a track record (2:02.2) on Aug. 13.
All three of Andrew’s horses are the sires of Andrew-owned stallion Boy Band. At his current rate of success, Andrew might soon realize a lifelong goal.
“I’d like to have a Maine-bred, Maine-raised horse make it into the Hambletonian or Little Brown Jug,” said Andrew, referring to two of the most prestigious races in harness racing’s Triple Crown for trotters and pacers, respectively. “I don’t think that’s ever happened before.”
The only record not broken recently by an Andrew-owned horse is the mark for 3-year-old colts, which is now owned by Maineiac Matt. It ran the Windsor Fair oval on Aug. 24 with a time of 1:55.1. The horse is owned and driven by Mike Graffam. The previous record of 1:55.3 belonged to Didgeridoo, which set it in 2002.
Harnessing some history
Three Maine harness drivers recently won career milestone victories and a fourth is just one win away from one.
Drew Campbell of Scarborough joined the 2,000-win club last week, while Shawn Gray of South Gardiner and Wallace “Wally” Watson of Saco notched their 1,500th career wins Aug. 12 and 15, respectively. Gray has been driving 15 years, while Watson’s career has lasted 21 years.
Campbell has been sitting in a sulky for 19 years, but he may not have too long to enjoy the limelight, however, as brother Heath Campbell is one win away from 3,000.