OXFORD – Things were next to excellent for the opening day of racing at the Oxford County Fair racetrack, supervisor Phil Jackson said.

There were a couple of glitches, but he said that was acceptable in a scenario where the list of things that can go wrong could be “endless.”

“We had 700 to 800 people and 200 to 300 people in the paddock area,” Jackson said. “The total handle was not bad at all. We budgeted higher, but we’re in the ballpark.”

The first day handle was $45,822 and in an earlier conversation Jackson said the track needed to average $50,000 to break even.

Saturday is expected to be a big day and that could put the average where it needs to be.

Ken Ronco, the presiding judge over the four days of racing, gave the new track a mark of A for opening day.

Ronco works some of the fair tracks, at Bangor Raceway and is the director of racing at the Fryeburg Fair.

“There were a few snags for the first day of operation,” Ronco said. “Nothing major and things were well under control.”

The biggest problem was a pump malfunction limiting the ability of crews to water the track down.

Dennis May, the state steward for the Maine Racing Commission, agreed with Ronco’s assessment.

“It’s pretty amazing how far they have come from the groundbreaking a year ago,” May said. “When you consider this is a new racetrack, that has never been raced on before and the management is pretty green, well, things went pretty darn smooth.”

“Most horsemen seemed impressed,” he said.

He said the track was a little cuppy, meaning the ground was breaking away beneath the feet of the horses. He said it is often that way at new tracks until the track gets used for awhile.

“I’d say things were next to excellent,” Jackson smiled.

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