Some of the state’s top harness horses and drivers will converge on Bangor Raceway on Friday night with big money up for grabs.
The “Sire Stakes” finals, an event for two-year old horses, will be contested at historic Bass Park for the second consecutive year. Between $58,000 and $60,000 in prize money will be up for grabs in four racing divisions.
The event starts at 7 p.m.
Prior to last year, the event had been held at Scarborough Downs. Bangor Raceway and Scarborough Downs are the state’s two commercial harness racing tracks.
Henry Jennings, Executive Director of the Maine State Harness Racing Association, said the four classes will involve Filly Trotters, Filly Pacers, Colt Trotters and Colt Pacers.
The winning horse and driver will pocket half the purse, or up to $30,000, with the top five horses and drivers walking away with cash.
“We’re trying to promote it very hard. We’re expecting a pretty big crowd,” Jennings said. “People get pretty excited about it because there’s a lot on the line.”
Jennings expects roughly 50 horses to compete in the event.
The finals field in each class is determined by a points system that horse and driver teams use to accumulate points throughout the racing season, Jennings said.
The event will also feature a pair of consolation races for teams that failed to accumulate enough points to make the finals.
“They start racing in June through August,” he said.
The Sire Stakes program was created in 1972 to encourage the breeding and raising of Maine horses to preserve agriculture in the state.
Total capital investment in breeding stock, equipment and buildings over a five-year period is $9.3 million, and the program is also vital to economic development and farmland preservation, according to a release from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Jennings said a few horses that train regularly at Bass Park have earned the right to race in the finals, which should intensify the thrill for local racing enthusiasts.
The Sire Stakes finals for 3-year old horses are scheduled to be run in October at Scarborough Downs.