Bee A Magician will try to return to her winning ways when she faces 13 male rivals - including last year's Hambletonian Stakes winner Royalty For Life - in Saturday's $484,850 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack.
Last year, Bee A Magician won all 17 of her starts and was named Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada. This season, the mare is winless in three races and coming off a ninth-place finish in the Armbro Flight Stakes on June 14 at Mohawk Racetrack.
It was her first off-the-board finish since going off stride in her second lifetime start in July 2012. Trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman said Bee A Magician scoped sick following the Armbro Flight.
Bee A Magician, who has won 27 of 33 career starts and $2.33 million, prepped for the Hambletonian Maturity with a 1:53.1 qualifier win on June 27, trotting her final quarter-mile in :26.3. She will start the Hambletonian Maturity, to be contested at 1-1/8 mile, from post No. 13 with regular driver.
"She qualified really good and she's acting fine, so it looks good now," said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. "I was really happy with her qualifier and Brian thought she was back to her old self, so hopefully we're good.
"It was a bit of a shock," he added about Bee A Magician's finish in the Armbro Flight. "I've never seen her stop before. But these things happen. She's never really had any setbacks before, so we weren't used to it. But she got over it, so we're OK. At least we knew there was something wrong."
Joining Bee A Magician in the Hambletonian Maturity field are Your So Vain, Sweet Justice, Bambino Glide, Fico, Wheeling N Dealin, Royalty For Life, Flanagan Memory, Spider Blue Chip, High Bridge, Master Of Law, Major Athens, Possessed Fashion, and Creatine.
Conditions for the Hambletonian Maturity allowed for up to 16 starters rather than the traditional 10.
Royalty For Life, who is making his 2014 debut, won last year's Hambletonian Stakes while Spider Blue Chip was the Breeders Crown champion and Creatine captured theFuturity. Wheeling N Dealin was the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter.
"I think it will be OK; I think we'll be alright," Norman said about facing the boys. "We'll see how some of those colts are."
Also on Saturday's card at the Meadowlands are two eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace and one elimination for the Mistletoe Shalee.
The first elimination for the Meadowlands Pace features North America Cup winner JK Endofanera. The second division includes He's Watching, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer, and last year's Breeders Crown champion Luck Be Withyou. The top five finishers from each elim advance to the July 12 final.
As for Bee A Magician's future schedule, she is being pointed to the Ima Lula Series at the Meadowlands, which is for trotting mares, following the Hambletonian Maturity.
"I think I'll try to keep her at home as much as possible, race her close to home," Norman said. "It's a long year and I don't want to over-race her. We'll see how it goes. If we can do some good on Saturday and get some money there, that's a big purse, it would make the rest of the year a lot nicer."
Following is the field in post order for the Hambletonian Maturity with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Your So Vain,, ; 2. Sweet Justice, , ; 3. Bambino Glide, , ; 4. Fico, , ; 5. Wheeling N Dealin, , ; 6. Royalty For Life, , ; 7. Flanagan Memory, , ; 8. Spider Blue Chip, , ; 9. High Bridge, , ; 10. Master Of Law, , Frank Antonacci; 11. Major Athens, , ; 12. Possessed Fashion, , ; 13. Bee A Magician, , R. ; 14. Creatine, , .
by Ken Weingarter, for Harness Racing Communications