Day At The Track

MD Magic voted Horse of the Year

06:12 AM 26 Feb 2020 NZDT
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Harness racing MD Magic, harness racing
MHRI director Cathy Dessert presents 2019 Minnesota Harness Horse of the Year award to connections (Jessica Johnson and Ken Stauffer) of MD Magic
Dee Leftwich photo
MD Magic and driver Nick Roland
Dee Leftwich photo
Forest Lake, MN - Voting took place at the MHRI Annual meeting and Banquet on Saturday, 22 at Vanelli's by the Lake in Forest Lake, MN and MD Magic was chosen as the 2019 Horse of the Year in the sport of harness racing in Minnesota.
 
MD Magic also took home the hardware as the Champion sophomore male trotter for 2019. The talented gelded son of Braggart is out of the Striking Sahbra mare Magical Debut, and is owned by Set The Pace Racing LLC and trained and driven by Nick Roland.
 
After picking up honors as the two year old colt trotter of the year in 2018 with 9 wins in eleven starts and setting a seasonal earnings record in the Minnesota program, MD Magic returned to the races in early May of 2019 with an easy qualifying win in 2:05.1 followed by a 2:01.4 victory in a 3 year old open to get his sophomore season rolling in style.
 
MD Magic made a habit of turning in dramatic performances throughout his 2019 campaign - winning going away (in 2:00.1) from post 10 in the second tier in a $16,000 3 year old MN event on June 23 was one example, but even more dramatic were 3 occasions (July 28, August 18 and September 8) where MD Magic appeared to be hopelessly blocked with no racing room, yet perfect timing and patient handling from trainer/driver Nick Roland got the dynamic duo to the Winner's Circle time and time again.
 
MD Magic was unbeatable in July and August in 4 starts, and closed out his Running Aces season strong in September as well with a win and two close seconds from three outings. His final tally for 2019 was 16 starts, 7 wins, 4 seconds and 1 third with a mark of 1:59.2 and earnings of $74,950 - yet another seasonal earnings record for the Minnesota program.
 
Shortly after the banquet festivities, I caught up with Jessica Johnson, one of the principals of Set The Pace Racing (along with Ken Stauffer) and here's what I learned about her star trotter:
 
"Magic is probably the star of the barn/stable amongst all of the caretakers/owners and guests, and it's not just because he is talented and successful, it's his personality - he loves people and he loves treats, if you are within his reach he will reach out to you and pull you over to him to give him attention and beg you for carrots or treats" Johnson also stated that he loves his outdoor time in the paddock where he runs and jumps and plays. An additional testament to his docile temperament is the fact that when it comes time to give barn guests/race fans a ride on the track in the two-seater jog cart, it's often Magic that is chosen to do so.
 
One surprising tidbit that Jessica shared is that they (herself, trainer Nick Roland and staff) were not particularly keen on MD Magic's abilities early on, he just seemed average at best during his early work as a freshman, but she said "that all changed after his first qualifying race where he really showed a hint of his abilities" and he indeed continued to show that throughout his two year old season, racking up nine wins in eleven starts. Johnson also added that MD Magic " doesn't require alot of intense training to stay in top racing form, he mostly puts in lots of slow methodical miles to stay in shape, and he benefits from weekly visits from the chiropractor. "
 
In addition, Johnson expressed that they are beyond thrilled at the Horse of the Year award and stated "we were not expecting this, but are so honored that our fellow horsemen find him to be as special as we do. "
 
When I asked what we might expect to see from MD Magic as a 4 year old in 2020 Johnson responded by saying " he owes us nothing, but I do know he loves his job, we are just excited to be a part of the horse he continues to grow to be. "
 
MD Magic, with his $145,250 in the bank is now the most successful offspring of the sire Braggart ($350,949) who took a 3 year old mark of 1:55f in 2009. Glen Sauder of Withee, Wisconsin is the breeder of record for MD Magic, and is the current owner of his sire Braggart.
 
By Darin Gagne, for Minnesota Harness Racing
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