It’s been three years since the track record was broken at the Walter H. Hight Invitational. It could be in jeopardy this time, however, according to the namesake’s grandson.

“They could break the track record,” Walter Hight said. “Track conditions are good, and the entries are good. It’s a really good field of horses.”

The annual event, which is part of the Skowhegan State Fair and carries a $10,000 purse, awards an extra $4,000 to any horse and driver that breaks the track record, which was set at 1 minute, 51.4 seconds by Achilles Blue Chip in 2014. One wouldn’t have to go far to find a good pick to both win the race and flirt with the record; defending champion Bet You is back in the race, driven this time by Shawn Gray after Heath Campbell rode along to victory last season in 1:52.3, the horse’s fastest posted time to date. Bet You was on the rail last year and will be again this time.

“(It happens) once in a while,” Hight said of race winners coming back to the field. “Not real often.”

Bet You, a three-time winner in 17 starts this season, will have several challengers in the five-horse field. Major Starlight, J J’s Jet and ShesJustADelight N have won four times apiece this season, with J J’s Jet notching five places and a show and Major Starlight and ShesJustADelight N posting two places and four shows and three places and four shows, respectively. ShesJustADelight N will be driven by Ron Cushing, who guided Escape The News to a runner-up finish behind Bet You last August.

He’s Marvalous has only one win this season in 13 starts, but driver Nicholas Graffam’s horse has also posted the fastest time (1:50.4) of all entries. Rain in the forecast for Friday and scattered storms Saturday could put a damper on the pace, but Hight said the event still offers a speed element most horse racing fans in the area don’t see.


“It’s going to be quite a race,” he said. “It’s always drawn a big crowd. People around here don’t usually get to see that type of horse race. It’s a different type of race. It’s a speed race. Normally, if you get the front end, you try to slow up (to) save your horse. But in a race when you’re going for speed for that extra money, that’s not going to happen.”

The Hight Invitational will be the ninth race of a 10-race card, with a post time of 3:08 p.m. The first race of the day gets started at 1 p.m.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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