JJ’s Jet (4) wins the Walter Hight Invitational at the Skowhegan State Fair last year. JJ’s Jet will be participating in this year’s Hight Memorial. Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

The defending champions are back for the Walter H. Hight Memorial Pace. And so are the horse and driver they took the crown from.

JJ’s Jet and driver W. Drew Campbell return Saturday to try to take their second Hight race, an annual component of the Skowhegan State Fair. The race, the ninth of 10 at the fair, will carry a $10,000 purse and has a planned post time of 3:08 p.m. JJ’s Jet, the favorite at 5-2 odds, has run 15 races this year, winning seven with three places and a show.

Right behind JJ’s Jet at 7-2 odds is Bet You, the 2016 champion which has raced 14 times this year, winning five. The driver who won that race is back as well; Heath Campbell steered Bet You to victory and is in the harness again after Shawn Gray guided the horse to a third-place finish last year.

Filling out the field behind the two former winners are Kenrick N (9-2, three wins), driven by Ron Cushing; Steuben Magic Ride (6-1, four wins), driven by McGwire Sowers; and Cherokee Ranger (8-1, four wins), driven by Mitchell Cushing.

Cherokee Ranger will start on the pole. Ron Cushing was in the race last year, driving Shesjustadelight N to a second-place finish.

The one-mile track record time of 1:51.4 could also be in jeopardy. Kenrick N has turned the fastest time this season at 1:50.0, while Bet You (1:51.0) and JJ’s Jet (1:51.3) have also beaten the Hight mark, set in 2014 by Achilles Blue Chip. Any horse and driver that break the record get an extra $4,000.

The forecast, however, could put a damper on any hopes for a fast pace. Thunderstorms are expected early in the morning and on and off through the afternoon, and could turn a fast track into a muddier, slower circuit.

The races get started at 1 p.m. The largest purse of the day, a $10,386 total, will belong to the seventh race, a five-horse Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes event with a post time of 2:36. Twelve is listed as the favorite in that race at 5-2 odds, followed by Hoppi (7-2), the potentially aptly named Stormyweatherahead (9-2), Pembroke Pharoah (5-1) and Just One More Time (6-1).

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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