The opening round elimination legs of the Joseph Ricci Memorial Trotting Series were contested at Scarborough Downs on Sunday and Likeabatoutofhell scored with a 1:58 mile, equaling the track record for older gelding trotters.
While Mister Lucky Vec (Jonathan Roberts) took top honors in a hotly contested first flight, the mile of the day was turned in by the locally owned Likeabatoutahell, who streaked around the oval in 1:58 to equal the track record for aged geldings set by Highway Hanover (Jason Bartlett) back in 2006.
Likeabatoutahell is owned and was bred by Michael Andrew of Gorham, Maine. The 5-year-old son of SJ’s Caviar had never contested a mile in New England until throwing hat into the Ricci Memorial ring.
“I’ve never even had my picture taken in the winner’s circle with him before today” said proud owner Michael Andrew, “I was excited but nervous watching him race up here today. I’m so proud of him and I wanted him to do well in the Ricci.”
Likeabatoutahell had never attempted a mile on a half-mile track before as he had collared the lion’s share of his $275,000 career bankroll on the bigger ovals at Dover, Chester, Pocono and the Meadowlands while under the handling of noted trot specialist Trond Smedshammer.
"Gordon Corey (his driver today) did a great job” Andrew continued, “He took it easy in the first turn and made sure he was comfortable then he moved him exactly when he should. I’m extremely happy.”
Corey had one week to familiarize himself with Likeabatoutahell.
“Mike brought him up from Trond last week and kept him at his farm for a few days then I had him at the Cumberland fairgrounds to jog and go a couple of trips,” Corey explained.
“I was apprehensive going into the race today with this being his first time on a half,” continued Corey, “He’s such a big horse and had the rail and he’s a speedy sort of guy, but all that concern quickly dissipated as the race unfolded. He handled great with absolutely no impediments. He carried himself straight, handled the surface and the turns and was anxious to go forward. Those are all nice things in a race horse.”
The second round of eliminations for the Joseph Ricci Memorial will be held on Sunday, Aug. 3 with the $50,000 final slated for Aug. 7. (Scarborough)