10/30/2014 10:53AM

Vernon: Bee A Magician must overcome post nine in Muscle Hill

Derick Giwner
Bee A Magician (4) and Mistery Woman will hook up again in Saturday's Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs.

Some people have been let down by the 2014 performance of last year’s Horse of the Year Bee A Magician. Trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman is not one of them.

“I’m very happy with her,” said Norman, “She’s raced well and been in with world record miles almost every time she raced.”

Heading into Saturday’s $178,000 Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs, Bee A Magician may be as sharp as any of the ten trotting mares in the select field. “Post nine is going to be tough,” said Norman. “With a trailer (Classic Martine) it’s going to be tough from the far outside. If you don’t leave you’ve got too many horses to pass and if you leave it’s a long way to the front.”

Nevertheless Norman has been inspired by Bee A Magician’s recent performances. Most specifically her third-place finish in last weeks International Trot Preview at Yonkers Raceway. The four-year-old mare was in striking position but had to settle for third behind Natural Herbie and Commander Crowe.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the best older pacing and trotting mares at Vernon on Saturday - LIVE on DRF!]

“I thought she raced really well. She had trot but had trouble finding room,” said Norman.

Perhaps the biggest blessing to come out of Bee A Magician’s effort at Yonkers was the discovery of how good the daughter of Kadabra gets around the half-mile track.

“I’ve always thought of her as a big track horse,” said Norman, “I was pleasantly surprised to see how well she gets around the small track.”

The Muscle Hill puts Bee A Magician back on the big track and with that comes many more obstacles, especially working out a trip. This group of aged mares has taken turns in key races with Bee A Magician no longer holding a dominant position.

“With the exception of Classic Martine, I don’t believe the others have improved over last year,” said Norman his rival on Saturday night. Indeed Classic Martine has earned more than any of the mares in the field.

While Norman is all for bringing back horses to race at four, he seems more excited about bringing back Bee A Magician to race as a five-year-old.

“It’s so tough on all horses to race a long two and three-year-old season and then expect them to race at the same level at four,” Norman said. “I really think if they want four-year-olds to race they have to shorten the two-year-old stakes season and begin much later. But I doubt the breeders will agree to that.”

The Muscle Hill goes as race nine of 11 on Saturday night at Vernon, and trainer Jonas Czernyson has a powerful three-mare entry with Allerage Farm champion Mistery Woman (post three) the sharpest. Andrew McCarthy will be behind Mistery Woman, a 1:51 winner at Lexington’s Red Mile.

The $1.5 million-winning mare Maven makes her first start for the Ron Burke stable after a long and prosperous association with Czernyson. Maven drew post seven in the Muscle Hill.

The Vernon Downs program features three other key stakes races with the Kindergarten Finals for two-year-old trotters of both sexes going for nearly a half million dollars collectively and the $178,000 Artiscape for pacing mares on the program. First post is 6:00 p.m.