06/04/2015 10:30AM

Scioto: Il Sogno Dream ready for action in Charlie Hill

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Mark Hall/USTA
Il Sogno Dream has won 9 of 31 career races and starts from post two on Saturday.

Trainer Chris Beaver is happy with the way Il Sogno Dream returned to action this year – bigger, better and faster.

A multiple-stakes winner in 2014, the 4-year-old Il Sogno Dream is among 10 horses entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial for older trotters at Scioto Downs Racino. The field also includes Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, and stakes-winner Natural Herbie.

Il Sogno Dream will start from post No. 2 with driver Aaron Merriman. Bee A Magician, with Brian Sears listed to drive, drew post four and Natural Herbie, with owner-trainer-driver Verlin Yoder at the lines, got post eight.

[SCIOTO DOWNS: Watch Il Sogno Dream in the Charlie Hill on Saturday--Live on DRF!]

Modern Family won last year’s inaugural Charlie Hill Memorial in a then-track-record-equaling 1:52 2/5.

Interestingly, Il Sogno Dream won his seasonal debut on May 22 at Scioto Downs in a career-best 1:52 2/5.

“I can’t say I expected him to go (1):52 in his first start, but he was ready I guess,” Beaver said with a laugh. “He’s come back better than he was. Last year, he would kind of lay into the turns a bit. He’s straighter this year; I could probably race him without hobbles, but I don’t like to change in case they ever need them on.

“He’s filled out a bit. I wouldn’t say he’s any taller, but there’s more weight on him. And it seems like he’s gotten a little faster over the winter. I think (the improvement in the turns) is a part of it, but I think his stamina is better than it was last year.”

Il Sogno Dream won five of 18 races last year and earned $323,952 for owners Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He captured divisions of the Currier & Ives and Circle City Trot and finished second in the Goodtimes Stakes. He also had third-place finishes in the Kentucky Futurity and Carl Erskine Trot and was fourth in the Hambletonian Stakes.

For his career, the son of Cantab Hall-Le Reve has won nine of 31 starts and earned $451,601.

Il Sogno Dream has raced twice this year and heads to the Charlie Hill Memorial off a second-place finish to Final Breath in the May 29 Open at Scioto Downs. Il Sogno Dream lost by a head despite starting from post eight and racing on the outside for the entire mile.

“I’m really happy with the condition of the horse going into this race,” said the 43-year-old Beaver, who established a career high with $1.27 million in purse earnings last season. “I think he’s got a good chance to get a top-three finish in (the Charlie Hill Memorial).

“I’m not sure he’s not up to being able to race against the top horses, I think he can race with them; I don’t think they’re going to overshadow him. Is he ready to beat that kind? I don’t know. He hasn’t faced anything like them so far this year. But I feel pretty good about him in there.”

Il Sogno Dream has a limited stakes schedule this year. Among the races to which he is eligible are the Hambletonian Maturity, Maple Leaf Trot, Chip Noble Memorial Trot, Centaur Trotting Classic, and Dayton Trotting Derby.

“I didn’t over-stake him this year,” said Beaver, who is based in central Ohio and also has 10 horses with a second trainer in Ontario. “I figured he’d be racing a few more years at least. I’m hoping he can be really good around here and compete on the Grand Circuit locally. I hope he develops into a horse that could race everywhere. I think he’s well on his way.”

Bee A Magician has won three of four races this year and is coming off a second-place finish to Father Patrick in the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational on May 24 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The 5-year-old mare, who has raced exclusively against the boys so far this year, has won 34 of 51 career races and earned $2.90 million.

Natural Herbie is winless in five starts this season, but last year won the International Trot Preview, Chip Noble Memorial and Vincennes Invitational. He has won 24 of 51 lifetime starts and $763,491.

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