07/24/2013 4:27PM

Meadowlands: Bee A Magician leads strong elimination contingent for Norman

Derick Giwner
Trainer "Nifty" Norman (left) checks out his star filly Bee A Magician.

All eyes at the Meadowlands this Saturday will be on Bee A Magician in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination. The brilliant filly with the perfect record in 2013 is not the only hopeful finalist trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman would like to prepare for Hambletonian Day. On Friday he sends out a pair of 2-year-olds with the opportunity to qualify for the Merrie Annabelle and Peter Haughton finals.

Norman’s prospect in the Merrie Annabelle elimination for freshman trotting fillies is another undefeated young lady. Struck By Lindy has won both of her career starts, both in Pennsylvania-bred action at The Meadows and Pocono. The $32,000 Harrisburg purchase is by first crop sire Explosive Matter.

“I really like that filly,” said Norman. “She hasn’t really raced hard yet and I think she is still improving.”

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Starting from post three against an impressive group of trotters that includes Lifetime Pursuit, who won her last start by nine lengths at The Meadows in 1:55 2/5 (more than one second faster than Struck By Lindy’s career best mile), Struck By Lindy’s winning streak figures to be put to the test.

“She’ll have to have some things go in her favor,” said Norman on her chances of winning Friday’s second race. “I don’t think I can beat [Lifetime Pursuit], but we could definitely be a good second.”

The top eight in the Merrie Annabelle elimination join Cee Bee Yes and Shake It Cerry in the final on August 3.

One race later Norman sends out Ragazzo Dolce in the first of two Peter Haughton Memorial eliminations for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Coming off a pair of breaks and having never finished better than fifth in his three-race career, the road to finishing in the top five and making the final appear bleak at first look.

“Those bad efforts really haven’t been his fault,” said Norman. “He is still green and gets nervous in traffic. I think he is just a little claustrophobic.”

In an effort to get Ragazzo Dolce’s head in the game, Norman made a bridle change this week that has already starting reaping rewards.

“I trained him this morning and right now I’m really happy with him,” said Norman with confidence. “I really like this horse. We are hoping for big things from him.”

Ragazzo Dolce, a son of Muscles Yankee by $730,384 earning mare Bella Dolce, will have his hands full on Friday tackling five sons of the great Muscle Hill, another descendent of Muscles Yankee.

Southwind Spirit leads the Muscle Hill collection after three strong showings with a win and two places. The Ron Burke trainee has shown high speed and will start from post six. Well Built is another in the family. He failed to rally in the New Jersey Sire Stakes last time but had two solid placings in prior starts.

The second Haughton elimination should be a showdown between the talented Father Patrick and Nuncio. The duo hooked up last week at the Meadowlands with the latter getting the nod by a head.

Culminating Norman’s weekend on Saturday will be Bee A Magician in the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations. The daughter of Kadabra-Beehive has yet to lose in seven starts this year and is coming off a world record 1:51 clocking in the Del Miller at the Meadowlands on July 13.

“I trained her this morning and she feels awesome; even better than the last time I trained her,” said Norman, who feels Bee A Magician is peaking at the right time.

Bee A Magician will start from post one in the first of two eliminations (races two and five on the card) and despite reports to the contrary, Brian Sears will drive.

“When I called in the entry I said Sears but they must have heard Pierce,” said Norman. “I guess they sound the same,” he concluded with a chuckle.

Post time for the Meadowlands on both Friday and Saturday is 7:15 pm.

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