05/20/2017 10:35AM

Bergman: Norman has two fillies looking to be Queen

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Magic Presto is well staked for the 2017 season.

It’s hard to replace a Queen.

Richard “Nifty” Norman had a long reign with the phenomenal trotting mare Bee A Magician that came to an end this season. The brilliant former Horse of the Year was exceptional in every year at the track and took on the best and beat them.

It’s too early to predict if there is another Bee A Magician in the works, but Norman has a pair of fillies in the sophomore ranks this year that could rise to the level of greatness if they continue along their early march.

On the trotting side, Norman is more than effusive in praise of Magic Presto. Like Bee A Magician, Magic Presto is a daughter of Kadabra that raced extremely well as a freshman and has returned this year with a vengeance.

Magic Presto was alone at the wire in her first stakes action this past Saturday at Mohawk. With Trevor Henry in the bike for guidance, the filly jogged in 1:55 1/5. She landed post three for this Saturday’s C$130K SBOA final as the early 3-5 choice.

“She came out of the race well and I left her up there,” said Norman, who will be in attendance at Mohawk on Saturday night.

Magic Presto closed out her freshman campaign with a victory in the Goldsmith Maid at Woodbine last fall, completing her season with five wins in just nine starts. A step slower than some of the top fillies in the division for much of the year, Magic Presto’s improvement by years end was apparent.

“She’s come back a little bigger and a little stronger,” said Norman. “You know I think she’s the kind of filly that will mature into a better horse as she gets older.”

Sound familiar?

Magic Presto will race in Ontario but she is staked to the major races and figures to be a solid presence with the top 3-year-old trotting fillies in North America.

On the pacing side, Norman may have another jewel in the name of Inverse Hanover, if first and second impressions of the Somebeachsomewhere filly are to be taken with seriousness.

“Yea, she surprised me a bit in that last race,” said Norman of an incredible effort in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 11.

Inverse Hanover was last in a field of seven that appeared to crawl to the half in a tepid 57 3/5 clocking. That clearly was no place to be if a filly was expected to win, but Inverse Hanover, with David Miller in the bike, did just that. She paced a sub 55-second final half going wide around traffic and jogging in a 1:53 4/5 mile.

“She trained down like a good horse last year and we had high expectations,” said Norman of Inverse Hanover. “She cracked a hind pastern bone and we quit with her.”

In her lone stakes appearance as a freshman, Inverse Hanover made a break before the start yet somehow managed to finish a distant third at The Meadows in July. What’s interesting to note about that race is that the first two finishers were Idyllic Beach and Agent Q, two of last year’s best fillies and ironically both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winners at Harrah’s on May 11.

With three wins in three starts this year, Inverse Hanover appears to be heading on the right track for potential stardom. Of course there are a few other quality fillies in this division, but Norman likes what he’s training.

“She’s a real nice filly to be around. She’s not like many of the Somebeachsomewheres. She’s got a great temperament,” Norman said.

There’s always the chance of history repeating and in the case of Inverse Hanover, she is beginning to look a lot like her mother Ideal Newton.

Ideal Newton was an unknown when she debuted as a sophomore in 2008 but quickly became stakes friendly and would eventually go on to earn nearly $630K with a sub 1:50 record over a long career. As a sophomore she captured the $250K James Lynch Memorial at Pocono in 1:50 2/5.

Inverse Hanover, Ideal Newton’s first foal, is eligible to this year’s Lynch with eliminations slated for June 24 and a July 1 $300,000 final.

Norman has been noted for racing much of his young stock from off the pace.

“I think it’s the best way to bring them along,” said Norman. “Eventually they’re going to have to tough it out on the front end.”

It’s hard to say how any horse could fill the shoes of the $4 million-winning Bee A Magician, but perhaps two fillies will fill the void for Norman.

JAYWALKING: According to the SOA of NY’s Alex Dadoyan, expect to see the Yonkers finish wire finally moved when the track goes on a two week sabbatical on May 29. Dadoyan revealed that the horsemen and Yonkers Raceway are finalizing a new contract and that one of the requirements of the deal is for the new finish line to be in position for racing after the break.

Dadoyan also revealed an interesting experiment currently being conducted trying to see if there are ways to improve the chances of horses landing posts seven and eight. The New York Gaming Board has given permission to allow Yonkers to conduct qualifying races where horses instead of starting from posts seven and eight will be placed behind the rail and two post. This shake up may also see four horses in the first tier and four in the second tier.

The first “test” run was this past Friday and revealed little. The idea according to Dadoyan is to force the front tier forward because there will be no room to settle back into a tuck. “With trailers posts two and three will have to press forward,” Dadoyan said.

It’s an interesting idea but probably one that will not get truly tested in qualifying races since most drivers and trainers and more concerned with making time than contesting the first quarter.

While the new finish wire may finally give viewers a clearer understanding of the actual winner crossing the wire, it may not change the dynamics of the individual races in any material way.