September 30, 2023, by Chris Tully for First Tracks Cumberland (Stephanie Gray photos)
CUMBERLAND, ME – Two $15,000-plus divisions of Pine Tree State-sired sophomore pacers highlighted the Friday (Sept. 29) program at Cumberland Fair, with the speedy side-steppers performing in their penultimate legs of the rich Maine Sire Stakes.
Once again, the Tardif Taskforce showed that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with.
In the $15,209 opener for the glamour boys division, aka 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings, the Kevin Switzer Jr.-driven Twice The Ice took matters into his own hands and discarded his previous ‘off the pace’ style for the reinsman’s preferred method of ‘catch me if you can.’
Leaving from post two, ‘Switz’ had the son of Deuce Seelster right on the engine from the start and set opening fractions of :29.4 and 1:00.4.
Allowing for that brief respite going to the half, Switzer Jr. stepped on the gas as stable mate Anithingforyoudear (Dan Deslandes-Marc Tardif) had moved first over and was looking the pacesetter right in the eye at the 1:30.1 third panel.
Stride for stride, toe to toe, head to head, the pair battled down the Cumberland stretchm, with neither foe giving or taking an inch. When the finish wire finally arrived it was the cool character Twice The Ice that prevailed by a nose in 2:00.
Grabbing his second win of the season for owner-trainer Marc Tardif, it was the colt’s first victory since July 1. Perhaps peaking at the right time, the Gary and Kristina Hall-bred colt was also being driven by Switzer for the first time in recent memory. He paid $6.20 to win.
Two Towns Over (Aaron Hall-Valerie Grondin) finished third.
The fairer set competed for the $15,193 3-year-old filly pace, with heavy favorite Pickmepickme taking this one in dominant fashion.
Leaving from post five, regular pilot Andy Harrington had the daughter of Western Maverick settle into fourth position after the start and a :29 opening panel which was set by Ally Mac and Bruce Ranger.
Heading to the 1:00 second stanza, Harrington moved his filly to the top and never looked back, scoring in 2:00 by a measured length. She paid $2.20 to win as the odds-on choice.
Owned, trained and bred by Marc Tardif, it was the top filly’s sixth seasonal victory and third in a row. She now sports lifetime earnings of $147,316.
La Mambacita (Heath Campbell-Valerie Grondin) finished second; Justcallmemimi (Walter Case Jr.-Mike Graffam) was third.
Harness racing at Cumberland Fair continues at 1:30 pm on Saturday (Sept. 20) with all four $50,000-plus divisional Maine Sire Stakes freshmen finals. The popular Cumberland Derby is also back, and will be offered on race seven, where fans that participate have a chance to win $500 in cash prizes.
Racing continues with a special 11 am post time for Sunday (Oct. 1), where the first 100 patrons that purchase a program will receive a $5 betting voucher.
First Tracks Cumberland’s winter festival reconvenes on Sunday, November 5, abiding by a weekend racing schedule through Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). Winter post times will be 11 a.m.
More information can be found on our website: https://firsttrackscumberland.com and on our Facebook page: First Tracks Cumberland.