03/12/2016 9:05AM

Meadowlands: Dovuto Hanover is on the comeback trail

Derick Giwner
Bee A Magician is about a month away from qualifying.

There was a point in time a few years back that Dovuto Hanover was among the elite pacing aged set. The son of Dragon Again routinely competed at the top level with a great amount of success. With 28 first and second-place finishes in but 56 career starts, the gelding earned more than $400K before his fifth birthday.

Now a 6-year-old, Dovuto Hanover is making just his ninth start since 2014 while looking to regain some of that old luster. The $25,000 featured 11th race at the Meadowlands on Saturday is the place and the Richard “Nifty” Norman-trainee starts from post five.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights from the DRF Harness team this Saturday at 7:00 p.m.]

“I’m happy with the way he has come back,” said Norman about the veteran.

“The last run he had was solid.”

After nine months away from competitive racing, Dovuto Hanover showed some of that old closing kick that made him a stretch-racing threat throughout his career. Against similar stock, he flashed a 26 final quarter and was chewing up ground with tenacity missing, just a half-length in arrears of odds-on favorite Rockeyed Optimist.

Norman likes the direction the horse is going in and certainly likes his chances against the foes he will face on Saturday night. At the same time, he’s more than cautious about projections that Dovuto Hanover will again reach the top of the mountain in this division.

“No, I don’t think he’s a top ten horse anymore,” said Norman. “I just don’t think he’s sound enough to compete at that level. We’ve staked him to a few races here (at the Meadowlands), but we’re more about making him into a solid racehorse.”

Only seven drew in to the Open Handicap on Saturday and Dovuto Hanover seems to be the most logical horse with the potential to defeat Rockeyed Optimist (post seven). After a stellar 4-year-old campaign, the Steve Elliott-trained Rockeyed Optimist has won two of three starts this year and has Tim Tetrick returning to the bike on Saturday. The $1.7 million winner Bettor’s Edge makes his season’s debut from post six in the handicap event.

Norman has had Bettor Memories for less than two months, but he thinks there is a future for the son of Bettor’s Delight. “I’m happy with the progress he has made. He’s getting better and better each time,” said Norman. Though winless in nine career starts, the sophomore gelding (post three in the second race on the card) flashed some speed last week while finishing second in the same class.

“I’m hoping he continues to improve,” said Norman. “We’re pointing him towards the Ontario Sire Stakes.”

One horse in Norman’s care that doesn’t need to improve at all is Bee A Magician. The 2013 Horse of the Year trained on Wednesday. “She was fantastic,” said Norman of the now 6-year-old daughter of Kadabra. “She went a mile in (2):15. She’s about a month away.”

Last year around this time Norman was optimistic about the season for Bee A Magician and she hardly disappointed, with a campaign that perhaps went on one or two races more than it should have.

“The last two starts she had issues,” said Norman. “She tied up in one and had a temperature after the other.”  Those minor problems are enough to derail even the best of horses.

Norman is pointing Bee A Magician for the Elitlopp Playoff race on May 8 at the Meadowlands.

When asked about shipping Bee A Magician to race in Europe, the trainer was straight away in how he feels. “She’s not great with shipping. I think if you sent her over there she would have to stay there,” said Norman.

The trainer was concerned with how the mare responds to shipping and how much better she responds when fully acclimated to her surroundings on a regular basis. As was the case a year ago, Norman hopes to keep her as close to home for as long as he can.

Is winning the International in the cards this year for Bee A Magician having come up short in the revival last year at Yonkers.

“I think if she draws the rail in that race she’ll have a chance,” said Norman, perhaps in response to last year’s event in which Bee A Magician spent too much of the mile and a quarter distance too far from the action.