OXFORD – A horse racing association is planning to complain to the state’s agriculture commissioner if the people behind a local horse team are not given a $5,000 bonus for breaking a track record at the Oxford Fair.

The Western Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association voted Tuesday evening to support Gerald Kilgore, of Paris, and Shawn Gray, of Sidney, and bring a complaint to the commissioner if the Oxford Fair Association does not award checks to Kilgore and Gray within two weeks.

Kilgore and Gray are the respective owner-trainer and driver of Joe’s the Best, a standardbred gelding that set a track record of 1:54:4 on Saturday at the half-mile Charles Day Memorial Pace. The time beats the old record set in 2005, as well as a newer record set Sunday at the track at 1:55:2.

A news release posted in July on the fair’s Web site announces that the Big “O” Open Pace, with a purse of $25,000, and the Charles Day race, with a purse of $5,000, would be taking place on Sept. 13. The release also announces the “offer of a $2,500 bonus to each the trainer and the driver of the horse breaking the track record currently held by the Eight Wonder and Jason’s Jiffy in a time of 1:56 flat.”

Caldwell Jackson, director of racing for the fair, said an anonymous individual donated $30,000 for the Open Pace, and that the $5,000 bonus only applied if a horse broke a record during that race. Jackson said the stipulation was announced at the track throughout the week.

“I feel sorry that the money wasn’t there for the whole racing area, but it was just there for that one race,” said Jackson. “And I feel sorry for Mr. Kilgore.”

Jackson said 63 races with purse money awarded took place throughout the week the fair was running in Oxford. He said the people on the first team to break the record last Sunday was informed that they would not receive the bonus, and that the bonus would not be awarded because no horse broke the record at the Open Pace.

Members of the Western Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision at a meeting Tuesday.

Brenda Russell, the groom of Kilgore’s horse, said the team that broke the record last Sunday was told they had to wait until the end of the week to collect a bonus in case another team beat their record. Russell said Kilgore was informed Sunday that no bonus would be given out.

“In my opinion, Caldy should be reprimanded somehow,” said Russell.

“So far, what has happened should have never, ever happened,” said Faylene McKeen, president of the association.

Russell said she had received an anonymous call Tuesday afternoon saying that the bonus would be awarded to Kilgore and Gray within days, but has not heard back from a fair official.

“I still don’t know if there’s a check that’s going to come out,” said Russell.


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