06/05/2013 4:09PM

Mohawk: Norman sends out classy ladies in weekend stakes

Ken Weingartner
Bee A Magician has a perfect record in three 2013 starts.

When the eliminations for the Armbro Flight and Elegantimage stakes are held this weekend at Mohawk Racetrack, trainer Nifty Norman will send out the horse that won the Hambletonian Oaks last season and another he hopes can win the Oaks this year.

Personal Style won the Hambletonian Oaks last year and was among 17 trotting mares entered in the Armbro Flight Stakes. She will start from post three with driver David Miller in the first of two eliminations on Friday night.

Earlier on the card, Bee A Magician will race in the first of two Elegantimage elims. Bee A Magician was voted Canada’s best 2-year-old filly trotter last season after winning 10 of 13 races. She is 3-for-3 this year heading into the first major stakes test for 3-year-old filly trotters.

The top five finishers from the eliminations advance to the Elegantimage and Armbro Flight finals, to be contested June 15 at Mohawk as part of North America Cup night.

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“The Hambletonian Oaks is the race we would love to win and I’d say she is one of the favorites for it at this stage of the game,” Norman said about Bee A Magician. “She’s done everything right so far. She’s very easy to be around this year. Last year you had to be careful around her, but she is simple to work with now. She doesn’t need a lot of work; we just try to keep her happy.”

Last year, Bee A Magician’s wins included the Peaceful Way Stakes at Mohawk and the Ontario Sire Stakes championship at Woodbine.

She debuted this year on May 17 with a 1:53 4/5 win in her elimination for the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stakes and captured the final by 5-3/4 lengths in 1:54 4/5 a week later. On May 31, she won a division of the Casual Breeze Stakes in 1:54 2/5 over a track labeled good.

“She really surprised me with how good she was in her first start,” Norman said. “She was good in her next start, but I thought that last week she wasn’t as good. But it was an off track so I’m not putting too much into that. She’s acting really good and should be OK.”

Bee A Magician and regular driver Rick Zeron will start their Elegantimage elim from post No. 2. The race includes Jimmy Takter’s To Dream On, who was voted the best 2-year-old filly trotter in the U.S. last season after winning eight of nine races. Her victories included the Breeders Crown and her only loss was a second by a neck to Bee A Magician in the Peaceful Way.

“It should be interesting,” said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. “It doesn’t matter to me whether we meet (To Dream On) now or later; you’ve got to race everyone at some time or another.”

Stakes-winner Mistery Woman also is in the opening Elegantimage elimination. The second division features this year’s New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Shared Past as well as stakes-winner Handover Belle and Norman’s Drink The Wine.

Personal Style and Beatgoeson Hanover head to the Armbro Flight elims for Norman’s stable. Personal Style is coming off a 1:53 3/5 win at Harrah’s Philadelphia, her first victory in six starts this season, after a third-place finish in the first round of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine.

In the Miss Versatility, won by Maven in a track-record 1:52, Personal Style was in seventh place and trailed by 17-1/4 lengths at the three-quarter mark before flying home with a :25 final quarter-mile.

“She was dynamite at Woodbine and her last start (at Philly) was her best yet,” Norman said. “She was nice and strong. She really seems to be coming around into good form.”

Norman said Personal Style was bred to stallion Cantab Hall, but would continue racing for the next several months. Her Armbro Flight elim includes defending champion Pembroke Heat Wave, multiple-stakes-winner Cedar Dove and Ontario standout China Pearls.

Maven, who won last year’s Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters and the American-National Stakes, headlines the second Armbro Flight elimination.

“When any of these fillies are at their best they can beat anybody,” Norman said. “Mares are like that. It’s hard to keep them sharp for a long time. One can beat the others on any given day.”

- Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com