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JULY 19, 2018 - After an early season that did not play out quite as his connections had hoped, three-year-old trotting colt Perfetto made a brief stop in the Grassroots Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday evening and picked up a confidence building victory. Starting from Post 1, Perfetto and driver Trevor Henry eased away from the starting gate and were sitting fourth as Iam What I Am reached the :30.1 opening quarter. Henry soon sent the heavy favourite to the front and the pair was two and one-half lengths on top at the :59.4 half. On cruise control at the 1:29.3 three-quarters, Perfetto kicked into another gear in the stretch and trotted home a three and one-quarter length winner in 1:57.4. Smart Pick closed sharply to be second and early leader Iam What I Am was third. "That was easy for him," admitted Henry. "They just put him in here because it (the Gold event) was a half-mile at Grand River and they didn't figure he'd get around there, so they raced him here." A Gold Series winner at two, Perfetto's connections expected him to be a serious player at the province's top level again this season, but the gelding made a break in the Gold Series opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 28 and again in his Goodtimes elimination on June 8 and was forced to requalify. Trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman decided to add trotting hopples to the gelding's equipment and he delivered a solid qualifier on June 12, then followed that up with a strong effort in the June 26 Gold event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, finishing second to Stormont Ventnor. On July 13 Perfetto found the winner's circle for the first time as a sophomore in an overnight event for non-winners of three races. "They had a lot of problems with his shoeing and that and they seem to have gotten it straightened out. Anthony Haughan has done a good job with him, and he seems to be coming around now," said Henry, noting that Cambridge, Ontario resident Haughan cares for the Norman horses while they are competing in Ontario. "He's getting better, he's getting his confidence back, you know, he's got two wins now and it will help him a lot." Arthur, Ontario resident Henry has piloted Perfetto in all but one of his Ontario starts for Norman and his Enzed Racing Stable Inc. of Allentown, New Jersey, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida and Joe Hansford of Foothills, Alberta. Thursday's victory improved the gelding's sophomore record to three wins and two seconds in eight starts for earnings of $51,580. Say You Do's sophomore campaign also got off on the wrong foot with breaks in both the May 20 Grassroots opener at Flamboro Downs and the July 1 event at Dresden Raceway. The Kadabra gelding redeemed himself on Thursday evening however, with an impressive gate-to-wire score from Post 7 in the first $19,150 division. With Guelph, Ontario resident Paul MacDonell in the race bike for the first time, Say You Do fired off the gate and reached the quarter in :28.4. The pair carried on through a :59 half, fought off a challenge from Daylon Phantom heading by the 1:28 three-quarters and then cruised home to a two and one-quarter length victory in 1:57.2. Fan favourite T Barrr closed well to be second and The Magic Number was third. MacDonell crafted Say You Do's first-ever Ontario Sires Stakes victory for trainer Stephen Oldford and his Oldford Racing LLC of Port Huron and Gene Oldford Farms LLC of St. Clair, Michigan. Through six sophomore starts the trotter now has two wins, two seconds and earnings of $17,990. Perfetto and Say You Do will be hoping for additional Ontario Sires Stakes success when the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings head to Rideau Carleton Raceway on August 26 for both the Gold and Grassroots events. On Friday evening Woodbine Mohawk Park will showcase Gold Series pacing fillies, both two and three-year-olds. The freshman fillies will compete in Races 5, 7, and 8, while the sophomores square off in Races 2 and 9. The Campbellville oval's first race goes postward at 7:30 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Coming up in this space next week, we'll be providing all of the results and commentary on the eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday, with the elims on the 23rd of June and the finals coming up the following Saturday. These races will feature a large majority of the sport's finest performers at this time, so there should be a lot to discuss. In the meantime, two horses who know their way around stakes-level competition are at the top of the heap for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS For the past five years or so, this gelding could be counted on to drop in at Pocono every once in a while to face off against some of the toughest pacers on the grounds, and more often than not he would come out victorious. The difference this year is that his longtime trainer Chris Oakes handed his handling over to his son Hunter. In his first try at Pocono in the 2018 meet on June 9, Scott Rocks, now age eight, came up just short in a $21,500 condition pace behind Boston Red Rocks, who had to pace the fastest mile of the season at Pocono just to beat him. On Saturday night, Scott Rocks was back at it, facing off against a group of $17,500 condition pacers for a slight drop in class. As per usual, Scott Rocks came off the gate well, but others were rushing to the lead as well in the early going and through the front stretch. At one point driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped the gelding to the outside for what would have been a second-over journey around the second turn. But then George decided against it and utilized about a split-second window to tuck Scott Rocks back in at the pylons. Scott Rocks was still sitting third-in as they rounded the final turn, and it looked like there might not be an opening for him to come on late. But the waves of horse flesh parted just in time for him to make a flying rush to the finish line, upending the game pacesetter First Class Horse by a length-and-a-half in 1:48.4, easily the fastest time of the week at Pocono. It was a memorable way to get his first win of the year, and it's a good time for Scott Rocks to be peaking as he heads into the eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace on the weekend. Other top pacers this week include Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who came up a winner in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50.1; Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who captured Monday night's featured claiming handicap pace for mares in 1:52.1, her second straight win at Pocono and third in a row overall; and No Easy Day (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Tuesday night in a new career mark of 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HOMICIDE HUNTER Like Scott Rocks, Homicide Hunter has been a stalwart in the Chris Oakes barn for many years. Unlike Scott Rocks, however, Chris is still the man in charge of Homicide Hunter, and he has witnessed the six-year-old gelding as he has taken off on one of his characteristic hot streaks in recent weeks. It started when he picked up a win in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono on June 3 on a sloppy track in 1:55.3. He went much faster than that the following week at Scioto when he captured the Hill Memorial in a world-record-matching time of 1:50.3. Coming off those two victories, it might have seemed like he would be an overwhelming favorite to win another Great Northeast Open race at Pocono on Sunday night. But one of the horses he was facing, Marion Marauder, came in with a record as much if not more accomplished. Marion Marauder had been scratched sick from the Hill, denying fans an opportunity to see a clash of the titans in that race. But they battled on Saturday night, with Marion Marauder taking the early lead and Homicide Hunter getting parked around turn two before he made the front himself. Although there were seven other top-flight trotters in the field, the showdown between Homicide Hunter and Marion Marauder seemed an inevitability. Indeed, in the stretch, Marion Marauder gathered momentum from the pocket and pulled up right alongside the leader in the passing lane. But Homicide Hunter simply found one more burst of energy and hustled to the line a neck in front in a winning time of 1:52.2. His third straight win wasn't a world record, but it was impressive nonetheless for the caliber of trotter he beat in that stretch duel. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Joey Pro (Matt Kakaley, John Hallett), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night and did so in a career-best 1:55; Haveitalltogether (Eric Carlson, Andy Miller), who followed up a condition victory with a win against the Pennsylvania All Stars for three-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; and Lindy's Big Bang (David Miller, Nifty Norman), who posted the fastest time among winners of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for sophomore male trotters on Sunday night with a career-best mile of 1:52.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CARMENS BEST This pacer's first win of the year, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, proved a surprise, as he beat a bunch of claimers on Saturday night at 20-1, paying off $42 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson's picked up multiple victories three nights in a row this week, highlighted by a surprising win in the Pennsylvania All-Stars with Haveitalltogether. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman always seems to bring in a high percentage of winners, and he chalked up two more at Pocono this week, including a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory with Lindy's Big Bang on Sunday night. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Bevigila, for Pocono Downs

Trenton, NJ --- For better or worse, harness racing trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman has undergone a plethora of experiences at the Hambletonian Oaks. What lies ahead for the trainer and his horse, Magic Presto, at Saturday’s $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters is anybody’s guess. “Well, we’re in there,” Norman said. “We’ve got a chance. That’s all you can ask for.” And as Norman knows better than most, anything can happen once you’re in there. In 2010, Nifty trained the Oaks favorite, Poof She’s Gone, who made a break on the final turn and finished seventh. Two years later, his 57-1 longshot entry, Personal Style, won the race after the top two favorites, Check Me Out and Maven, both made breaks. Finally, in 2013, events played out as expected. Norman’s heavily favored Bee A Magician, the eventual Horse of the Year with a 17-17-0-0 record, won the Oaks with Brian Sears driving. This year, Magic Presto is not the favorite -- that distinction goes to Ariana G, unless her connections opt for the Hambletonian -- and she’s not the longshot. So what is she? Owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee and Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC are anxious to find out. “She raced good (in the eliminations),” Norman said. “She didn’t run off on anyone, but I thought she looked good and Brian (Sears) was happy with her. That’s all you can hope for. She seems good and healthy and sound. So we’re going in (to the final) in good shape, hopefully.” This will be the first time in a while that Magic Presto comes back in a week, but Norman said “I think it will be good for her. Brian said she was a little fresh in her elimination but that’s probably a good thing.” Bred by Liverman, Magic Presto was purchased for $160,000 at the 2015 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg by nearly the same group of owners as Bee A Magician. Hartman, Liverman and McDuffee all had a piece of the 2013 Horse of the Year. A growth spurt put Magic Presto at 17 hands at the start of the season, as her size became so dramatic a new bike had to be built for her. This season she has four wins in seven starts, with earnings of $162,418. In addition to her Oaks elimination triumph, Magic Presto won the $94,995 Ontario SBOA final at Mohawk on May 20. “Everything’s gone to plan really,” Norman said. “It’s been kind of what we wanted, not having to race her too hard, and trying to be at our best for this week. She’s gotten better and better all the time. I think she’ll still improve some more. She’s a big filly and she’s probably not as strong as she could be. I think she’ll get stronger as she gets older.” Norman is attempting to become the fourth trainer to gain three Hambletonian Oaks wins. Jimmy Takter and Jan Johnson share the record with six, while Glen Garnsey trained three winners. Sears could become the fifth driver with three Oaks wins, as Glen Garnsey, Ron Pierce and Yannick Gingras have three each and Berndt Lindstedt owns a record four. The post positions and morning line odds will be revealed for the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands during a live post position draw on Tuesday (Aug. 1) beginning at 2 p.m. The event will be streamed exclusively on the Meadowlands Racetrack Facebook page and YouTube channel. Fans should be sure to “Like” the Facebook page or “subscribe” to the YouTube channel in order to view the stream. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Western Terror filly Chat Snap, already entered in the first leg of her division of the $750,000 Bobby Weiss Series Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, showed that she should be tough to beat with a victorious prep race five days prior to her first Weiss start, winning a $14,000 contest at The Downs Tuesday in 1:55.2 over a sloppy harness racing track.   With a well-strung-out field, driver Andrew McCarthy was able to wait in fourth with Chat Snap, and when given her head approaching the ¾, the filly took her cue, motoring right up to gain the lead before the top of the stretch. From there she methodically drew clear of her field, winning by 4¼ lengths.   Chat Snap is now undefeated in three lifetime starts, including a 1:52.3 - 26.3 victory to her credit, and she has the look of a tough filly in the making for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Enzed Racing Stable Inc. and Misty Miller.   Just how tough this filly is may be discovered in the first Weiss leg for pacing distaffs this Sunday, as Chat Snap will be starting from post six in a field of eight against what may be the best-balanced of all the $15,000 Weiss divisions Sunday. The females will do battle in races 5, 11, and 12, while the males will face off in races 6, 8, and 10.   PHHA / Pocono    

TORONTO, November 19 – Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Magic Presto sat a pocket trip to 3-5 favorite Princess Aurora before edging off the pylons in the stretch and sweeping to a 1:55.4 harness racing victory in the $447,000 Goldsmith Maid Final Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack. Brian Sears guided Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee Magic Presto to the front before the first turn, with Temple Ruins tucking into second and Princess Aurora into third. After a :29.1 quarter, Princess Aurora pursued the front and struggled to clear to command. She managed to take the front before trotting a :58.1 half. Maintaining control through a 1:26.3 third-quarter, Princess Aurora was soon braced by Magic Presto emerging from the pocket. Within a matter of strides, Magic Presto trotted to the lead and clear of Princess Aurora to win by three and a quarter lengths. Temple Ruins chased the two for third and Cameron Hill finished fourth. Winning her fourth race in nine starts this season, Magic Presto, a two-year-old trotting filly by Kadabra from the Muscles Yankee mare In The Mean Time, returned $7.10 to win. “It’s a good way to end the year,” Norman said following the victory. “She gets put away in good shape and I think she’ll be a good filly next year.” Magic Presto finishes her rookie season with of $393,049 for owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee, and Little E LLC and could’ve made more had it not been for a sickness last month. “Brian [Sears] actually hasn’t driven her when she’s been at her best,” noted Norman. “She had some sickness troubles during the [Ontario Sires Stakes] Super Final and the Breeders Crown, but we assured [Brian] that she was on the way back and she qualified good, so he came up. “It was a shame she got sick for the Super Final. We tried to get her healthy, and she got healthy for the Breeders Crown, but she really wasn’t fit enough and it didn’t pay off. We got paid tonight, so it worked out good.” by Ray Cotolo for WEG Communications

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 15, 2016 - She classes up the joint. Champion harness racing trotting mare Bee a Magician (Brian Sears, $3.30), in her first purse try since late May here, didn't disappoint Saturday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's $250,000 Invitational Trot. Away third from post position No. 2 in the mile-and-a-quarter event, Bee a Magician saw a couple of ladies, polester Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory) and Allerage Star (Andy Miller), plus Homicide Hunter (Eric Goodell) all offer early foot. After a :27.4 opening quarter-mile, and with Homicide Hunter finding a seat behind her, the fave was pointed forward. Bee a Magician made the lead before a :57.4 half, with second-tier Melady's Monet (Jason Bartlett) first-up from sixth. That one engaged the leader through a soft 1:28 three-quarters (mile in 1:57), with Bee a Magician owned a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. She held sway from there, repelling a stubborn "Melady" by three-quarters of a length in 2:25.1. Barn Doll was a pocket third, with Windofthenorth (Corey Callahan) and Lookslikeachipndale (Dan Dube) settling for the smaller envelopes. For Bee a Magician, a 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners David McDuffee, Mel Hartman and Herb Liverman, she's now 4-for-4 this season and 45-for-69 in her brilliant career with $4,088,395 in the bank. (real dollars) The exacta paid $26.20, with the triple returned $109.50. "To have a horse ready to go the mile-and-a-quarter against a very good field after nearly five months is a credit to Nifty (Norman) and a credit to her," Sears said. "I qualified her this past Tuesday (Meadowlands), and she was impressive. Today, she was back to her ornery self and it was good to see." Frank Drucker

Everyone in this business longs for that horse; the one that is a harness racing world champion, a Horse of the Year and charts the course of history so their name is forever distinguished, remembered and revered. Although Magic Presto has only just begun her career, the inspiration behind her purchase was the premonition that lightning may be captured in a bottle, not once, but twice and that she could follow in the hoofprints of another filly that first served notice of her superiority with a victory in the 2012 Peaceful Way -- Bee A Magician. "She was a big, beautiful, strong yearling," said Richard "Nifty" Norman, the filly's conditioner. "My owners always support Kadabra because they have shares in him, but this filly reminded me of Bee A Magician. That is why we went to $160,000 for her." Those are exceptionally high expectations for the daughter of Kadabra-In The Mean Time, who is owned by the same connections as the horse she was compared to in Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee, along with Little E LLC. She may not be dominating the headlines, yet Magic Presto certainly has been living up to what her connections anticipate for her future. In her short career, the filly's resume stands at 5-2-2-0 and she has banked $59,677. Magic Presto will attempt to replicate the feat of her older stablemate when she leaves from post position 10 in the C$363,000 Peaceful Way final on Saturday (Sept. 17) at Mohawk Racetrack. The filly will have the services of one of Canada's best reinsman in Trevor Henry and enters this contest after a very strong second in her elimination to Thats All Moni (post two). Unfortunately, Magic Presto will have to contend with post position 10, when she takes on the likes of freshman trotting sensation Ariana G (post four). After being hampered by post nine in her elimination, Magic Presto was hung wide leaving the gate, was settled in fourth and then endured a first-over journey commencing at the three-quarter marker only to be out-finished by Thats All Moni by 2-1/4 lengths at the wire. "You can't do anything about where you draw," Norman said. "I would not have selected either post for her in the elimination and final, but was very pleased with how she performed in the elimination. She will do anything you ask of her and is so willing. To come first-over and to have that kind of finish, you can't ask anything more of her." As for Bee A Magician, the horse whose shoes Magic Presto is anticipated to fill, it is possible the 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra-Beehive will return prior to the end of the season. "She has been swimming," Norman said. "We put her back in light training this week and all seems to be well. We would like to bring her back for the Breeders Crown, but there is still some time to go before we can see what will happen. I'm not really sure what we would use for a prep race for her as it depends on what is available and how she progresses." When it comes to Magic Presto, however, the filly will have plenty of opportunities to stake her claim for divisional honors. "Kadabra is a provincial stallion," Norman said. "But my owners and I have done quite well with him and we think this filly has ability. She is cleanly gaited, you can put her anywhere you want to and she is staked to everything for the rest of the year. She will have the opportunities to progress and develop." C$363,000 Peaceful Way 2-year-old filly trotters Race 2 - Post time 7:50 p.m. (EDT) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1. Stuck In My Spanks-Paul MacDonell-Scott McEneny 2. Thats All Moni-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter 3. Pure Kemp-Rick Zeron-Rick Zeron 4. Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter 5. Cameron Hill-John Campbell-John Bax 6. Southwind Avanti-David Miller-Nancy Johansson 7. Winter Sweet Frost-Scott Zeron-Paul Reid 8. The Erm-Mike Saftic-Clark Beelby 9. Dream Together-Sylvain Filion-Luc Blais 10. Magic Presto-Trevor Henry-Nifty Norman  by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night $45,000 co-featured harness racing Open Handicaps were brought to us by the letter B. Ladies First, with Bee a Magician (Brian Sears, $3.50), who took a overnight rest stop and toyed with her six marquee trot rivals. From post No. 6 (in one notch after the inside number was scratched-sick), Bee a Magician paid a :27.4 price to secure the lead. One she paid that toll, the rest of the road was essentially a freebie (:57.4; 1:26.4; 1:54.1). Major Athens (Tyler Buter) pulled pocket early against the Queen, and all that did was cost him second. That went to Allerage Star (Dan Dube), with Major Athens, Luminosity (George Brennan) and Crazy About Pat (Jordan Stratton) grabbing the minor awards. Buen Camino (Jason Bartlett) was outrun in a mile that ended up being a track record for aged mares. For $3.8 million ma'am Bee a Magician, a 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee, it was his third win in as many seasonal starts (lifetime 44-for-68) The exacta paid $19.80, with the triple returning $64.50. Bee a Magician Then, there was Bit of a Legend N (Stratton, $3.50), who prevailed from an impossible locale in the weekly pacing feature. Last among the seven in a pokey race, he saw Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald) seemingly dawdle (:27, :56.2, 1:24.4) with Outrageous Art (Bartlett) engaging first-up. Great Vintage owned a length lead into the lane, then began to get steppy and tire. In the interim, Bit of a Legend N was winding up front last and rallying down the middle of the oval. Sixth turning for home, he was a going-away winner, defeating Outrageous Art by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:52.1. Take it Back Terry (Brennan), Great Vintage and Moonliteonthebeach (Brent Holland) earned the smaller portions. For Levy champ Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, he's now 9-for-12 this season. The exacta paid $26.80, with the triple returning $84. Saturday's card also included a $40,000 elimination for the Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-olds. Missile J (Sears, $2.10, part of entry) won the game of musical chairs--nine to eliminate one--in 1:53.2. The American Ideal gelding defeated Rodeo Rock (Dube) by a length-and-three-quarters, with the winner's entrymate, Artmagic (Brennan) third. Joining those three in next week's $300,000 final of the 26th Rooney are Manny, Yankee Artillery, No Shame Blue Chip, Tailgunner Hanover and Tap into Power. Autotune Hanover, last season's winner of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace here, was devoid of pace this night and finished ninth. Next Saturday's Rooney is accompanied by the $100,000 Lismore Pace, which attracted six 3-year-old fillies. Both open draws take place Tuesday morning. Frank Drucker

Bee A Magician is staying home. The connections of the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff winner decided Monday to decline the automatic invitation to the May 29th Elitlopp at Solvalla Raceway in Sweden. Harness racing trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman said the decision by owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee was unanimous. "It's a tremendous honor to receive an invitation, but she is not the greatest traveler and the owners thought the best thing for the horse is to keep her home," Norman said about the 6-year-old mare. "She's in a good little groove right now and they didn't want to upset her." Bee A Magician was declared the winner of the Elitlopp Playoff after Resolve was disqualified from first place for going inside three pylons in the stretch. Despite the disqualification Resolve also was extended an invitation to the Elitlopp, which holds its eliminations and final on the same day. Resolve is trained and driven by two-time Elitlopp winner Ake Svanstedt, who has spent the last three years based in the U.S. For her career, Bee A Magician has won 43 of 67 races and $3.80 million. She was the Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada in 2013 --- going undefeated in 17 races --- and the Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter in 2015. She enjoyed multiple successes last year against male rivals. She became the first female trotter to win the Maple Leaf Trot since 2006 and she became the first mare to ever win the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and Centaur Trotting Classic. She also knocked off the boys in the Charlie Hill Memorial Trot. Her victories last season also included the Armbro Flight Stakes for trotting mares. This year, Bee A Magician is 2-for-2 with earnings of $84,500. Ken Weingartner  

Harness racing trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and driver David Miller have teamed up to win a number of open stakes races in recent years, but never with a horse they owned together. That could change Saturday. Miller and Norman share ownership of Cufflink Hanover, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday's $140,800 Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway. The gelding has won four of 10 career races, including his Dexter Cup elimination last weekend in 1:57.3 --- the fastest of the three elims for the event --- and earned $70,914. Cufflink Hanover will start the Dexter Cup final from post three, with Miller in the sulky. Miller on Wednesday became the third driver in harness racing history to surpass $200 million in career purses. "We hope we can have a little fun with him; that was the idea," said Norman, whose major stakes wins with Miller include the 2012 Hambletonian Oaks with Personal Style and a 2009 Breeders Crown with Poof She's Gone. "We'll see how it goes. "He raced good last week and got a good draw. We'll have to see how the race goes, but he's going to show up there." The Dexter Cup is the first major stakes event for 3-year-old trotters on the road to August's $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Last year's Dexter Cup winner, Habitat, reached the Hambletonian and finished seventh in the final. Less than a month later, he won the Yonkers Trot. In 2013, Dexter Cup runner-up Dontyouforgetit also went on to race in the Hambletonian and four years ago Market Share competed in the Dexter Cup --- he lost a shoe early in the race and went off stride --- and later won the Hambletonian. Cufflink Hanover, Dominion Beach, and Dante won last week's Dexter Cup eliminations. They are joined in Saturday's final by second-place finishers Steed, Sir Royson, and Inukchuk Chuck. Two third-place finishers chosen by lot, Credevie and Hillman, also advanced to the final. Dominion Beach and Steed are eligible to the Hambletonian. Stakes-winner Dominion Beach, trained by Nancy Johansson, and lightly-raced Dante, trained by Ake Svanstedt, will race as an entry because both are owned by Anders Strom's Courant A B. Dante, a son of Credit Winner out of the stakes-winning mare Michelle's Angel purchased as a yearling for $355,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale, is a full brother to millionaire Archangel. Cufflink Hanover was selected by Miller and purchased for $30,000 as a yearling at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. A son of Andover Hall out of the mare CR Savoire Faire, his family includes 1995 Horse of the Year CR Kay Suzie and multiple-stakes-winner CR Renegade. "When I broke him for David, I liked him," said Norman, who owns horses under the Enzed Racing Stable. "I just liked his gait. He had a great gait and a good attitude. He's a nice-looking horse. He was easy to like." Although Cufflink Hanover is not eligible to the Hambletonian, the horse's stakes schedule includes the Yonkers Trot, Currier & Ives, Keystone Classic, Matron, and Tompkins-Geers. "We didn't think he was a top-level horse," Norman said. "He's kind of a second tier horse, but he's a nice solid horse. He acts like he can get around a half-mile track good, which should help." In the Dexter, the entry of Dominion Beach and Dante is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Dominion Beach will start from post five with driver Marcus Johansson while Dante will leave from post seven with Svanstedt at the lines. Dominion Beach, a son of Muscle Hill out of the Dan Patch Award-winning mare Windylane Hanover, has won two of three races this year, including his Dexter elim in 1:58. A full brother to multiple-stakes-winner Muscle Diamond, Dominion Beach has won three of 12 races lifetime and earned $98,267. Dante won his Dexter elimination in 1:58.3 in his seasonal debut. The colt was winless in two races last season. Sir Royson, from the stable of trainer Linda Toscano, drew post No. 1 and is 7-2 on the morning line. Sir Royson, who has won three of six career races and finished off the board only once, will be driven by Jim Marohn Jr. Steed, trained by Richard Johnson, will start from post eight in the eight-horse field and is 4-1 on the morning line. Matt Kakaley is the driver. "The other winners of the eliminations drew outside of us, so I think we got the best draw of the winners," Norman said. "I think (Sir Royson) is pretty decent too. It's one of those half-mile track races and we'll just have to see how things go. We'll need a little bit of luck but he should be right there." Ken Weingartner

Saturday April 30th Freehold Raceway set the stage for harness racing three-year-old colt trotters in eliminations of the Dexter Cup. The first elimination was taken by Cufflink Hanover, the son of Andover Hall. He settled in for a two-hole trip behind the favorite Steed. Cufflink Hanover took the lead in the stretch to win in a brisk 1:57.3 for driver David Miller. The three-year old colt trotter is trained by Nifty Norman and has secured a spot in the Dexter final. Dominion Beach was favored to win the second elimination and did just that. Marcus Johansson and Dominion Beach held off a late surge by Sir Royson in the stretch to win in 1:58.0. Trained by Nancy Johansson the Muscle Beach colt looks to repeat in the final. Dante driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt took the lead from the word go and never looked back in the third and final elimination. The son of Credit Winner defeated the favorite Inukchuk Chuck in 1:58.3. The $140,800 final will be held on Derby Day, Saturday May 7th, at Freehold Raceway. The three winners will be accompanied by the three-second place finishers: Steed, Sir Royson and Inukchuk Chuck, and two of the third place finishers. Credevie, Cloud Nine Hanover and Hillman will draw for the two remaining spots in the final, by lot. Courtney Stafford

Bee A Magician shook off the cobwebs after a five-month layoff and stormed home in deep stretch to gun down arch-rival Shake It Cerry in her 2016 harness racing debut as a 6-year-old to win the featured $25,000 open handicap trot at the Meadowlands. Shake It Cerry, sent off as the 4-5 favorite, made the early lead and was permitted to cut tepid fractions of :28.1 and :57.2 as the field raced single file past the half-mile marker. Gural Hanover vacated the three hole at the five-eighths and came after the leader as Bee A Magician got into the outer flow, gradually making up ground to get into striking position. At the head of the stretch, after three-quarters went in 1:25.2, Gural Hanover, the 7-1 fourth choice, came alongside Shake It Cerry, who appeared vulnerable despite the easy fractions. In midstretch, driver Brian Sears tipped Bee A Magician off cover and rolled to an easy three-quarter length score in 1:52. Gural Hanover outlasted Shake It Cerry for second. The winner returned $5.60 to win as the 9-5 second choice, winning for the 42nd time in 66 starts for trainer Richard Norman and owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffie. Look for Bee A Magician in the May 8 Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff at the Big M, along with JL Cruze, Gural Hanover and Shake It Cerry, who will also be in the Mother's Day event, with the winner earning a berth in the May 29 Elitlopp in Sweden. CREATINE RETIRED: It was announced Thursday that Creatine was retired due to a suspensory injury. The lifetime earner of $2.1 million will stand stud at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. KATIE SAID TAKES F&M OPEN: Katie Said went an ideal second-over trip and stormed home to take the $25,000 open handicap pace for fillies and mares. The Jimmy Takter trainee got a perfect steer from Brett Miller to win by 1¼-lengths over Divine Caroline. Table Talk, the even-money favorite, was third. The winner paid $9.60 for owners Black Horse Racing of Lebanon, NJ, and went the mile in in 1:50.4. CARRYOVER CLIMB CONTINUES: The 12th race 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five once again was not hit, upping the carryover to $189,475.79 for the next program. All-source wagering on the 12-race program was $2,415,266. Live racing resumes at the Meadowlands on Saturday, first race post time is 7:15 p.m. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations    

East Rutherford, NJ - Friday's Meadowlands card continues the parade of stars returning to the racing wars. Co-featured are the $25,000 Open Handicap Trot (race six) and $25,000 Open Handicap Mare Pace (race 11).   The trotting race boasts a stellar field as Bee A Magician, Resolve and Creatine make their seasonal debut with Shake It Cerry, Gural Hanover, Waiting On A Woman and Opulent Yankee providing the competition.   Six of the seven are targeting the inaugural Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff scheduled for May 8 here at The Meadowlands. The winner of that Grand Circuit event will be invited to the Elitlopp raced in Solvalla, Sweden on May 29.   "Queen Bee" took a measure of both Creatine and Resolve in a 1:53.4 qualifier Saturday past and has looked sensational in both of her morning trials. As she embarks on her fifth season of racing trainer Nifty Norman continues to marvel at the depth of her talents and along with owners Dave McDuffee, Mel Hartman and Herb Liverman look forward to what she may accomplish this season. Brian Sears is in for the drive.   Creatine held well after cutting the mile in that one and along with Resolve, who was a reserved third from well back, will likely move forward of that workout.   Shake It Cerry got a quality first start in last week dashing home in a 26.1 final quarter in a closing second to JL Cruze to be beaten just a length in 1:52.2.   Gural Hanover and Opulent Yankee are coupled for wagering purposes and are both solid performers working into the five-year-old seasons. Waiting On A Woman (ineligible for the Elitlopp Playoff) trotted home in a sneaky 26.2 following Shake It Cerry's cover last week.   The Mare Open Pace marks the return to The Meadowlands of last season's three-year-old filly pacer of the year, Divine Caroline. She and entry mate Bettor Be Steppin combined to earn over $1 million for common owners Val'D Or Farm, Ted Gewertz and Rojan Stables (Michael Ouriel is a partner on only Divine Caroline) and trainer Joe Holloway.   The competition is stiff, led by Sandbetweenurtoes, Katie Said and Table Talk who all had a national presence in the older pacing mare division last year and rounds out with the gritty Request For Parole and improving Lovineveryminute.   The supporting card is strong and the wagering opportunities many on Friday evening. The lure of the Jackpot Super Hi-5 carryover is at $184,704 to open the weekend and the standard menu of horizontal wager guarantees continue. Past performance for the Late Pick 4 remains yours at the click of a mouse for each night's card, courtesy of Trackmaster.   We'll roll back the concession prices on Friday with delicious $1 hot dogs and $2 beers (consume responsibly) and continue to sign folks up for a dream trip to the May 7 Kentucky Derby.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   From the Meadowlands Media Department  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (April 15, 2016) - Trainer Nifty Norman hesitated before answering the question. "To be honest and maybe I shouldn't be saying this, but she physically looks even bigger and stronger this year. It is actually quite fascinating." It is hard to imagine how Bee A Magician could be even better as a six-year-old than she has been throughout her sure-to-be Hall of Fame career. The daughter of Kadabra - Beehive, by Balanced Image has earned more than $3.7 million during her four years on the racetrack and holds the unique accomplishment of winning at least one race worth $250,000 or more at ages two, three, four, and five. Bee A Magician is one of 15 horses, and one of only two mares, nominated to the inaugural $150,000 Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff at the Meadowlands on May 8. The winner receives an invitation to the prestigious Elitlopp in Sweden on May 29. "How many horses have raced five years and been a major stakes winner every year?" asked Norman. "It's not often you get one in your barn that you get to see develop and grow for six years. She still changes and matures and it has just been such a pleasure to be around her." Bee A Magician kicked off her 2016 season with a fast-closing third place finish in a Meadowlands qualifier last Saturday morning behind major stakes winners Shake It Cerry and Crazy Wow, both of whom are also pointing to the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff. Bee A Magician will qualify again this Saturday then likely race once before the Playoff, according to Norman. The Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff is shaping up to be a must-see early-season showdown featuring a "who's who" of the sport's premier older trotter. Dan Patch champion trotters JL Cruze and Shake It Cerry face off Friday at the Meadowlands while Breeders Crown winner Creatine and TVG Free For All champion Resolve are among the horses that face Bee A Magician in Saturday morning's qualifier. European import and Playoff nominee Perfectly Enough is also in that same qualifying heat. "This looks like a really strong race with all of those horses pointing towards it and it should be really intriguing with the possibility of going to the Elitlopp in Sweden," said Norman. "I am very interested to see how it plays out." Fans that wish to follow along the road to the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff may visit a special website that will provide the latest news and profiles of all nominated horses at and follow along on social media using #ElitloppPlayoff. by Justin Horowitz, for the Meadowlands

Dovuto Hanover sprinted home in 26 seconds flat after a rated middle half on the way to an impressive 1-length harness racing victory in 1:50.1 in the featured $15,000 conditioned pace at the Meadowlands Saturday night. Big M leading driver Scott Zeron urged the son of Dragon Again to the top in :27.1. Unpressured from there, Zeron guided the 6-year-old to the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:24.1. Flexing his considerable back-class muscles after that tepid :57 middle half, Dovuto Hanover then exploded home in the stretch to keep the fast-closing Pansformative and Ashley's Husband at bay to record his first win of the year in five starts for owner Martin Scharf and trainer Nifty Norman. Dovuto Hanover, who returned $4.20 as the even-money public choice, has won 17 of 59 lifetime outings for earnings of just over $468,000. McArdles Lightning ($11.40) extended his win streak to three in the secondary feature, a $13,000 conditioned pace, by moving past 4/5 favorite Real Nice at the three-eighth-mile marker and never looked back on the way to a dominant 3 1/4-length score in a lifetime-best 1:49.2. Odds On Equuleus outkicked Real Nice for second. All-source wagering on the card was $3,050,070, which represents an increase of $408,844 over the corresponding program from a year ago. The 12th race Jackpot Super High Five was again not hit, upping the carryover to $164,848.59. Live racing returns to the Big M Friday, with a first race post time of 7:15 p.m. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Harness racing trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman thought he came away with a nice little horse when he purchased Don’tcallmefrancis for $25,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. He now thinks he came away with a little bit more. Named after a popular South Jersey cover band, Don’tcallmefrancis has won five of 11 lifetime starts and hit the board a total of 10 times, earning $64,058 for Norman’s Enzed Racing Stable. On Tuesday, he will be the lone 3-year-old taking on a group of 4-year-olds in the $63,000 Sagamore Hill Pacing Series championship at Yonkers Raceway. Don’tcallmefrancis had two wins and a second-place finish in the event’s three preliminary rounds, which put him in a tie with Rodeo Romeo for the top spot in the series standings. Don’tcallmefrancis will start the final from post six with Jason Bartlett in the sulky. He is the second choice (7-2) on the morning line, behind Chris Ryder’s Rodeo Romeo (2-1), who starts from post two with Brian Sears. “He’s had some decent draws and decent trips and it’s worked out nicely for him,” Norman said. “I didn’t expect him to do that well because it’s mostly 4-year-olds, but he’s done a good job. He’s picked up $25,000 in three weeks, so I’m over the moon. He’s drawn poorly for the final, but he’s honest and he’ll get a piece of it.” Don’tcallmefrancis raced primarily at Freehold Raceway last season, where he won the New Jersey Sire Stakes Green Acres championship. He finished third behind Ideal Rocky and Boston Red Rocks in the Lou Babic and also was third, behind Katies Rocker and Ideal Rocky, in the New Jersey Futurity. Boston Red Rocks was the 2015 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and Ideal Rocky and Katies Rocker were open stakes winners. “He kind of surprised me,” Norman said. “He went some good miles. He was a little bit of a sleeper because he never does anything flashy, but he’s very consistent and very solid and he’s always got pace. “I was really happy with him. We didn’t stake him a lot; I wasn’t really trying to accomplish anything other than get him some experience. I didn’t think he would be a stakes horse, but now it’s looking like he might be. Not a big-level stakes horse, but he’s turned out to be a handy little horse.” Although the majority of Don’tcallmefrancis’ races have been on half-mile ovals, Norman says the horse is not merely a small-track specialist. “I just raced him at Freehold because of the Green Acres and because it was close to home,” Norman said. “I think he’ll be good on a big track, really, because he’s not a speed horse; he’s more of a grinder type of horse. I think a big track won’t bother him.” Don’tcallmefrancis is a gelded son of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Nanny Withafanny, who was an Open-level competitor on the East Coast and earned $424,323 lifetime. “I just liked the look of him at the sale,” Norman said. “I always try to buy a cheaper horse for myself and he had a real good head on him; he’s got a real Rocknroll head. He’s just a nice tidy little type of horse. His mother was a good mare. And he wasn’t a lot of money, so he was a good little horse for me to buy. “Usually I buy a horse like that as a baby and look to get them going a bit and sell them. I’ll probably do the same with him if I get the right offer. He’s a real sound horse and a real easy horse to train. He’s worked out really good.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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