Day At The Track

Four world champions to meet on Jug Day

02:20 AM 18 Sep 2014 NZST
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Maven
Maven - Scores the 8-1 upset for driver Yannick Gingras
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Four world champions meet in Thursday's $121,500 Miss Versatility Series championship for older female trotters at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio.

The group is led by Bee A Magician, who was the 2013 Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, and Classic Martine, who has won this year's Armbro Flight Stakes and two preliminary divisions of the Miss Versatility Series. The two horses share the world record of 1:51.1 for the fastest winning time by a 4-year-old trotting mare on a mile racetrack.

Classic Martine also shares the world record of 1:51.2 for the fastest victory by a female trotter of any age on a five-eighths-mile racetrack. She shares the mark with her stablemate, and Miss Versatility contender, Frau Blucher.

And then there is Maven. Last year, she won the Miss Versatility Series championship with a 1:51.4 triumph at Delaware. The time established the world record for fastest race mile ever by any trotter, male or female, on a half-mile oval. Only Cash Hall's time-trial 1:51.1 time, recorded at Delaware in 2006, is faster than Maven's race time.

A day before Maven made history, Frau Blucher set the world record of 1:53.1 for the fastest win by any 3-year-old trotter on a half-mile track at Delaware.

"It's a very deep group, for sure," said Chris Oakes, who trains Classic Martine and Frau Blucher. "I think we've got a very good chance. Both horses are doing well right now and drew well, which is important there. (But) I think probably the horse to beat is Bee A Magician."

Classic Martine drew post No. 1 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite with driver Tim Tetrick. She has won eight of 12 races and $246,732 this year. Last season, she shared the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old female trotters with Frau Blucher - finishing in a dead heat for win with her stablemate in the final - and was second to Bee A Magician in the Hambletonian Oaks.

The mare is owned by Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich and Ed Gold.

"She had time off and she matured good and has come back a better horse than last year," Oakes said. "She's a little bigger, a little stronger, and the mental toughness is definitely there this year."

Frau Blucher, who finished second to Bee A Magician in last year's Breeders Crown, will start from post four with driver Ron Pierce and is 10-1. She has won one of seven races this year, but is approaching $1 million in lifetime earnings for owners Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes and Matt Tudisco.

Bee A Magician, trained by Nifty Norman, was unbeaten in 17 races last season and has won three of 10 starts this year. She finished second to male rivals in the Hambletonian Maturity and fourth against the sport's top open trotters in the Crawford Farms Trot. In fact, her most recent three starts were against the boys, with her winning an open at Yonkers and a conditioned handicap at Harrah's Philadelphia.

She won a division of the Miss Versatility by a neck over Charmed Life in her world-record 1:51.1 performance. Three weeks later, she lost by a neck to Classic Martine in the Ima Lula final in the same time.

Bee A Magician is owned by Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. She has won 30 of 40 career races and $2.52 million. She starts the Miss Versatility from post six with driver Brian Sears and is 5-2.

Maven, who received the 2013 Dan Patch Award for best older female trotter, has won two of eight races this year. She opened her campaign with a win in the Miami Valley Distaff and then went to Sweden for the Elitlopp Invitational, where she finished third in her elimination and sixth in the final.

On Aug. 23, she beat male foes in the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and in her most recent start she finished fifth in the final preliminary round of the Miss Versatility at Tioga Downs. The race was won by Charmed Life in 1:52.2 - the fastest mile ever trotted at the track.

"It's really a deep, deep division," said Yannick Gingras, who drives Maven. "In the past, there's always been a standout in that division, but there isn't one right now. Imagine if Maven was to just step up a little and be the horse that she was last year, it would be some scary good trotting mares going at each other every week. It's great for the sport."

Maven, trained by Jonas Czernyson, who has three horses in Thursday's Miss Versatility, has won 27 of 48 career races and $1.48 million for owner Bill Donovan. Last year, she finished fifth in her start prior to the Miss Versatility championship at Delaware. Gingras is hoping history can repeat itself with a bounce-back winning performance again this season.

"Jonas told me that she's had an unbelievable two weeks since that start at Tioga and he really believes he's got her in peak form right now," Gingras said. "I'm going to go behind the gate with the mindset that she's one of the horses to beat and I'm going to race her that way. Hopefully Jonas is right."

Following is the Miss Versatility field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Classic Martine, Tim Tetrick, Chris Oakes, 2-1; 2. D'Orsay, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 6-1; 3. Ma Chere Hall, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson, 12-1; 4. Frau Blucher, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 10-1; 5. Maven, Yannick Gingras, Jonas Czernyson, 4-1; 6. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, R. Nifty Norman, 5-2; 7. Charmed Life, Brett Miller, Dave Menary, 8-1.

by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

 

 

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