Sixteen down, one to go.
Bee A Magician will try to complete a perfect season Saturday night when she faces nine foes in the $253,000 Moni Maker Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack.
Ranked No. 1 in the sport’s current Top 10 poll, Bee A Magician is 16-for-16 this year, with $1.42 million in earnings. She will start the Moni Maker from post eight for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and driver Brian Sears.
“I am feeling a bit of pressure, yeah,” Norman said. “I wasn’t feeling any until now, because you’re so close. We’re a few days away from it being over.
“But it’s exciting. The other thing is you could be not racing. Two weeks from now when she’s not racing and she’s out in the paddock I’m going to miss her, that’s for sure.”
Bee A Magician will try to join Muscle Hill, Syrinx Hanover and A Worthy Lad as the only trotters to go undefeated at age 3 and earn year-end honors dating back to 1975.
Muscle Hill, a colt, won all 12 of his races in 2009 and was named Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada. Syrinx Hanover, a filly, went 12-for-12 in 2001 and was named Trotter of the Year in the U.S. (losing Horse of the Year to filly pacer Bunny Lake). A Worthy Lad, a colt, was perfect in 13 starts in 1990 and received the O’Brien Award as Canada’s best 3-year-old male trotter.
“It’s just a dream,” said Mel Hartman, who owns Bee A Magician with David McDuffee and Herb Liverman. “At times she’s done it so easy it’s scary. I’ve had some great horses, but if you have a horse that’s being considered for Horse of the Year they have to be super special. I would say she’s super special. It’s been a hell of a ride.”
Bee A Magician’s wins this year include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, in a stakes-record 1:51.4, and the $500,000 Breeders Crown, in a stakes-record 1:52.4. She also captured the Elegantimage Stakes, the Delvin Miller Memorial in a world-record 1:51, and the Ontario Sire Stakes championship.
For her career, Bee A Magician has won 26 of 29 races and earned $2.18 million. Her earnings are the record for any filly, trotter or pacer, at ages 2 and 3 combined.
She is coming off a victory in the American-National Stakes on Nov. 9 at Balmoral Park in Chicago.
“She’s had three weeks since her last race, so she’s not right on top of her game, I wouldn’t say,” Norman said. “But we trained today (Tuesday) so she’s going to be very close.”
There is no precipitation in the forecast for Saturday, but it will be cold. The high temperature is projected at 38 degrees and the low at 32.
“I’m nervous racing this late in the year,” Hartman said. “My experience is that fillies and mares are not too crazy about racing in the cold. It seems harder on them than the (male) horses. I just hope we haven’t made a mistake.”
The Moni Maker field includes Sheena’s Shadow, Handover Belle, Ma Chere Hall, Andie Sophia, Little Bitty Lies, Southwind Cocoa and Time To Kill lining up inside Bee A Magician, with Mistery Woman and Deja Vu Too to her outside on the starting gate.
“I didn’t expect anything like this,” Norman said about Bee A Magician’s campaign. “You don’t expect that from any horse. It is a long year; the horse has been in work since February and we’re almost to December. It’s 10 months of hard work and a lot of starts.
“It’s just tough for them to keep going and be good the whole time. It’s amazing that she has been, really. That’s why it’s such a big achievement, I guess.
“She’s a great horse. I hope she finishes it off.”
KNEE INJURY SIDELINES ‘NITELIFE’
Owner Richard Young watched I Luv The Nitelife follow in the footsteps of his previous star filly pacer Put On A Show in many memorable ways on the racetrack.
This morning, I Luv The Nitelife’s career mirrored Put On A Show’s in a way he hoped would never happen.
I Luv The Nitelife was preparing for Saturday’s $167,500 Nadia Lobell Stakes on Tuesday morning when she was discovered to have a fractured right knee. Young said I Luv The Nitelife will require surgery.
Put On A Show missed her entire 4-year-old season because of knee surgery in 2011.
“I’m upset, but I can’t do anything about it,” Young said. “It’s a very similar injury, but worse than Show’s because a larger piece has broken loose. The only difference is with Show we found out in March when she was getting ready to return to the races. This gives us four more months to recover.”
Put On A Show and I Luv The Nitelife both won the She’s A Great Lady Stakes at age 2, as well as divisions of the Eternal Camnation and Bluegrass stakes. Both finished second in the Breeders Crown and finished second in Dan Patch Award voting for divisional honors.
As 3-year-olds, both won the Breeders Crown, Valley Forge, Miss New Jersey and Simcoe and finished second in the American-National in what would prove to be their final starts of the season. Put On A Show won 12 of 16 races at age 3; I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15.
Put On A Show was the richest filly pacer in history, with combined earnings of $1.89 million at ages 2 and 3. I Luv The Nitelife broke that record this year, with $1.94 million in total purses. Both horses were trained by Chris Ryder.
“And they were the only horses I got at both (yearling) sales,” Young said. “They weren’t the same kind of horse, and they didn’t race the same way, but both were special. To be No. 1 and No. 2 in earnings, that’s hard to beat.”
Put On A Show returned to the races as a 5-year-old and won 12 of 25 starts and set the then-world record of 1:47.3 with a win in the Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands.
“I prefer racing,” Young said. “What I did with Show was kind of unprecedented; I’m not going to do the same thing with Nitelife if she can’t race next year. I’m not going to bring her back after a year-and-a-half (layoff). If that’s the case, she’ll be a mommy.
“The coincidences have to end sometime.”
Harness Racing Communications
U.S. Trotting Associationwww.ustrotting.com