Day At The Track

Norman's leading ladies for stakes success

09:36 PM 05 Jun 2013 NZST
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Nifty Norman
Nifty Norman

When the eliminations for the Armbro Flight and Elegantimage stakes are held this weekend at Mohawk Racetrack, harness racing trainer Nifty Norman will send out the horse that won the Hambletonian Oaks last season and another he hopes can win the Oaks this year.

Personal Style won the Hambletonian Oaks last year and was among 17 trotting mares entered in the Armbro Flight Stakes. She will start from post three with driver David Miller in the first of two eliminations on Friday night.

Earlier on the card, Bee A Magician will race in the first of two Elegantimage elims. Bee A Magician was voted Canada's best 2-year-old filly trotter last season after winning 10 of 13 races. She is 3-for-3 this year heading into the first major stakes test for 3-year-old filly trotters.

The top five finishers from the eliminations advance to the Elegantimage and Armbro Flight finals, to be contested June 15 at Mohawk as part of North America Cup night.

"The Hambletonian Oaks is the race we would love to win and I'd say she is one of the favorites for it at this stage of the game," Norman said about Bee A Magician. "She's done everything right so far. She's very easy to be around this year. Last year you had to be careful around her, but she is simple to work with now. She doesn't need a lot of work; we just try to keep her happy."

Last year, Bee A Magician's wins included the Peaceful Way Stakes at Mohawk and the Ontario Sire Stakes championship at Woodbine.

She debuted this year on May 17 with a 1:53.4 win in her elimination for the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stakes and captured the final by 5-3/4 lengths in 1:54.4 a week later. On May 31, she won a division of the Casual Breeze Stakes in 1:54.2 over a track labeled good.

"She really surprised me with how good she was in her first start," Norman said. "She was good in her next start, but I thought that last week she wasn't as good. But it was an off track so I'm not putting too much into that. She's acting really good and should be OK."

Bee A Magician and regular driver Rick Zeron will start their Elegantimage elim from post No. 2. The race includes Jimmy Takter's To Dream On, who was voted the best 2-year-old filly trotter in the U.S. last season after winning eight of nine races. Her victories included the Breeders Crown and her only loss was a second by a neck to Bee A Magician in the Peaceful Way.

"It should be interesting," said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. "It doesn't matter to me whether we meet (To Dream On) now or later; you've got to race everyone at some time or another."

Stakes-winner Mistery Woman also is in the opening Elegantimage elimination. The second division features this year's New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Shared Past as well as stakes-winner Handover Belle and Norman's Drink The Wine.

Personal Style and Beatgoeson Hanover head to the Armbro Flight elims for Norman's stable. Personal Style is coming off a 1:53.3 win at Harrah's Philadelphia, her first victory in six starts this season, after a third-place finish in the first round of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine.

In the Miss Versatility, won by Maven in a track-record 1:52, Personal Style was in seventh place and trailed by 17-1/4 lengths at the three-quarter mark before flying home with a :25 final quarter-mile.

"She was dynamite at Woodbine and her last start (at Philly) was her best yet," Norman said. "She was nice and strong. She really seems to be coming around into good form."

Norman said Personal Style was bred to stallion Cantab Hall, but would continue racing for the next several months. Her Armbro Flight elim includes defending champion Pembroke Heat Wave, multiple-stakes-winner Cedar Dove and Ontario standout China Pearls.

Maven, who won last year's Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters and the American-National Stakes, headlines the second Armbro Flight elimination.

"When any of these fillies are at their best they can beat anybody," Norman said. "Mares are like that. It's hard to keep them sharp for a long time. One can beat the others on any given day."

NO MORE PLAYTIME FOR CAPTAINTREACHEROUS

Tony Alagna has been impressed by Captaintreacherous' improved maturity this year. He says the 3-year-old colt pacer still likes to fool around, but now knows when it is time to get serious.

It is time to get serious.

Captaintreacherous heads to Canada this week for the eliminations for the C$1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. The colt is in the first of three seven-horse elims on Saturday night; the top three finishers from each split plus a fourth-place finisher drawn by lot advance to the June 15 final.

Last season, Captaintreacherous won eight of 10 races and earned $918,253 on his way to becoming the first 2-year-old pacer in 25 years to be named Pacer of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. He also received honors as best 2-year-old male pacer in both the U.S. and Canada.

This is the 30th edition of the North America Cup, which has been won five times by horses named the best 2-year-old male pacer in the States: Jate Lobell (1987), Presidential Ball (1993), Bettor's Delight (2001), Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Sportswriter (2010).

"I think he's coming into the North America Cup elimination in good shape," said Alagna, who trains the horse for the Captaintreacherous Racing stable. "I don't anticipate the horse being anything but on his game.

"His maturity level has changed quite a bit. His demeanor in the barn; he was so playful last year. He still has that playfulness, but he knows the difference between when it's time to be serious and when it's not."

Captaintreacherous has raced once this season, winning by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:49.4 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on May 19 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The horse skipped the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Mohawk last weekend as Alagna preferred to keep Captaintreacherous close to home. The New Jersey-based trainer hoped to race in a 3-year-old open at the Meadowlands, but the race didn't fill. Instead, he trained Captaintreacherous at the Big M on Saturday.

"We didn't want to be away from home for three weeks up in Canada; we were worried about sickness and being away from home," Alagna said. "If everything works out right everyone will say 'Wow, what a great idea' and if it doesn't go perfect everyone will say 'Boy, you should have raced him.' We made the decision together and don't feel it's going to affect the horse either way. If he's on his game it shouldn't matter.

"I think the biggest thing was getting his first start in him. We got a nice positive first start into him, so whatever is going to be is going to be. He was as good as ever in that start and he trained great on Saturday at the Meadowlands."

Alagna also trains North America Cup hopeful Wake Up Peter, who has a second- and third-place finish from three starts this year. Wake Up Peter was third in last weekend's New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, beaten only a length in a 1:49.3 mile after racing on the outside for most of the mile from post nine.

Last year, Wake Up Peter won two of nine starts and earned $290,230. He was second to Rockin Amadeus in the Breeders Crown and fourth in the Metro Pace, which was won by Captaintreacherous.

"(Wake Up Peter) raced as big as a horse could race the other night in the Jersey final," Alagna said. "The colt gets a lot of bad posts and bad things happen to him. That's kind of how his things go. Everything will come together for him and he'll get his big payday.

"He's a very nice horse. He has a tremendous turn of speed. He's not quite as versatile as Captain; he's got a big brush on the end of a mile but he can't put four quarters together like Captain can. But not all of them can."

Sunshine Beach, who won one of the two Somebeachsomewhere Stakes divisions last week, is among the starters in Captaintreacherous' North America Cup elim. Wake Up Peter's split includes Rockin Amadeus, who won the New Jersey Sire Stakes crown last week by a neck over Johny Rock.

Johny Rock and Somebeachsomewhere division winner Vegas Vacation are in the third North America Cup elim, along with multiple-stakes-winner Odds On Equuleus and Apprentice Hanover.

WISHING STONE TAKES NO. 1 IN TOP 10 POLL

Older trotter Wishing Stone, fresh off being named Horse of the Month for May by the U.S. Trotting Association, is the new No. 1-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Wishing Stone, who was idle last week, was second in the season's first ratings.

Golden Receiver, who was No. 1, slipped to second after a seventh-place finish in the TVG Free For All Championship Series over the weekend.

Three-year-old filly trotter Bee A Magician, who is 3-for-3 and won her division of the Casual Breeze last week, hit the Top 10 at No. 9 while 3-year-old colt trotter Smilin Eli, also 3-for-3, was a newcomer at No. 10 after winning the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship.

HAMBLETONIAN/BREEDERS CROWN STANDARDBRED POLL: WEEK 2 - 6/4/2013

Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs
1 Wishing Stone (9) 6th 6-3-2-1 204400 257 2
2 Golden Receiver (10) 8pg 10-8-0-0 194150 252 1
3 Feeling You (4) 6pm 13-8-2-0 307175 181 4
4 Captaintreacherous (6) 3pc 1-1-0-0 31293 170 5
5 Razzle Dazzle (4) 6pg 7-4-0-0 303750 155 3
6 Sevruga 5tg 11-6-3-1 210100 110 6
7 Bolt The Duer (1) 4ph 2-1-0-0 108000 89 8
8 Modern Family 4th 14-9-2-1 198650 88 7
9 Bee A Magician 3tf 3-3-0-0 127441 74 --
10 Smilin Eli 3tc 3-3-0-0 108500 60 --
Also: Sweet Lou (56), Anndrovette (54), Vegas Vacation (49), Fred And Ginger (42), Foiled Again (40), Rockin Amadeus (38), Maven (29), Doctor Butch (27), Economy Terror, State Treasurer (22), Arch Madness (19), Market Share (15), Annieswesterncard (14), Celebrity Maserati (10), Belle Boyd, Normandy Invasion (8), Heston Blue Chip, Rocklamation (7), Beatgoeson Hanover (6), Sunshine Beach (4), Abelard Hanover, Something For Doc, Tracys Song, Warrawee Needy (2), Beach Memories, Betterthancheddar, Tirade Hanover, Versado (1).

Fred And Ginger received 1 first-place vote.

by Ken WEINGARTNER/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

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