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Maine pacing fillies are best friends, foes

October 12, 2011

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The best of Maine will be on display at Scarborough Downs, outside Portland, when the finals of the Maine Sire Stakes are held Sunday afternoon, with post time at 12:05. Age, gait and gender divisions will each go for a purse of $85,000 after a summer of slugging it out for points at fairs across the state.
Trainer/driver Kevin Switzer, who lives in Cumberland Center, Maine, had expected to have an entry in Barbra Ann (22-18-3-1, $107,408, 3, 1:56.4h) and Maeve (20-12-6-0, $69,523, 3, 1:56.1h), two 3-year-old pacing fillies bred and raised together on the farm he and wife Dr. Denise McNitt operate. Barbra Ann finished first in the sire stakes point totals and Maeve finished second. Maeve, however, will not start due to a tendon injury and will have to watch from the sidelines, which sounds easier than it is. The fillies have been more than just entry mates – they are best friends.
“I owned both the mothers; I still own Maeve’s mother,” said Switzer, referring to Dynamite Donna. “My father gave her to me when he passed away and I’ve had a couple babies out of her. They’ve been pretty good. They were born around the same time (Maeve on April 24, 2008 and Barbra Ann on April 25, 2008); they were raised together out in the field and they train together.”
Switzer says the two fillies are almost inseparable. “I had to build a special stall for them with half a wall between them, otherwise they’d walk the stall all night long,” Switzer said.  “It’s a four-foot wall. The top half is gone, so they can actually hang their heads right over if they want.”
Barbra Ann is a lot more attached to Maeve than the other way around, but they are both very vigilant about the other’s location, says Switzer.
“They nicker to each other and when one goes out on the track; they watch to see when the other comes back in,” he said. “We may have a problem because Maeve’s not going to get a chance to race on Sunday. She’s got a tendon we’ve been working on the past two months and maybe we could get another race out of her, but we’re not going to do that to her.
“Barbra Ann’s going to have to do this one alone. She’ll have to go to the detention barn at 6 a.m. by herself, but I think she’ll be fine. Maeve might be a little upset back at the barn.”
Switzer likes Barbra Ann’s chances on Sunday.
“She won the 2-year-old final here last year and broke the track and stakes record,” he said. “She won her last two starts and she is the leading points-winner. Maeve was the leading points-winner and Barbra Ann was second until Maeve got hurt and then Barbra Ann took over. Maeve is finishing in second place.
“I talked to my wife this morning – it’s like having Mickey Mantle as your starting batter and Babe Ruth is your backup. It’s not too bad.” (Harness Racing Communications)
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