Older Trotting Mare Division Is Deep

Published: April 16, 2015 08:09 pm EDT

Some of harness racing’s best older female trotters are getting ready to return to action and there should be no shortage of speed once they get going.

Five-year-old Classic Martine, who received the 2014 O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award for best trotting mare, on Thursday won a qualifier at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono as she prepares for her seasonal debut on April 24 in The Meadows Maturity Trot.

Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, and last season’s Trotter of the Year, Shake It Cerry, are among the horses entered to qualify Saturday at the Meadowlands.

Last year, those three ladies trotted some of the fastest miles in history.

The trotting mares as a group in 2014 posted eight of the 12 fastest times in their division’s history, with Classic Martine responsible for three of the efforts. Bee A Magician had one, as did Victory Is Coming, Mistery Woman, Perfect Alliance, and Frau Blucher.

Shake It Cerry, who was a three-year-old in 2014 and moves into the trotting mare division this season, posted a winning time last year that equaled the fourth fastest in history by a three-year-old filly.

“Those mares can put on a show,” said Tim Hauser, who is among the owners of Classic Martine. “We’re looking forward to defending the (division) title, but really you just cherish the moments when you get a horse this good. It’s an honour to have a mare like her.”

Classic Martine won nine of 18 races last year and hit the board a total of 16 times to lead all older female trotters in purses with $438,912. Her victories included the Armbro Flight Stakes, Miss Versatility Series championship and the Ima Lula Series final in a then-world-record-equaling performance.

Bred by Todd and Christine Schadel, Classic Martine is a daughter of Classic Photo out of the mare Drinking Days and her family includes two-time Horse of the Year Mack Lobell. She is owned by Hauser Bros Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Edwin Gold.

Classic Martine has won three qualifiers, two at Pompano Park and one at Pocono, as she gets ready to begin this year’s campaign. After her seasonal debut at The Meadows, she is expected to compete in the Miami Valley Distaff on May 3 and the first round of the Miss Versatility Series on May 18 at Mohawk.

“She qualified real good,” Oakes said. “It’s a long grind, so that’s why we qualified her easy three times.

“I’m more apt to keep her away from the boys this year, unless she’s really sharp and there’s a gap in her schedule,” he added. “But usually I like to keep them racing against their own kind.”

Classic Martine, who was trained and driven by Todd Schadel until June of her three-year-old season, has won 21 of 45 career races and $981,386 in purses.

“Horses like her don’t come every day,” Oakes said. “You hope you can get another one, but most of the time it doesn’t happen that way.

“It was a real special thing (to get the Dan Patch Award). You’re so worried about racing week to week that you don’t think about it at the time, but when things quiet down you look back and realize what you’ve done. It really sinks in then.”

Bee A Magician, now age five, won four of 17 races last year and earned $421,314 for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. Her top win came in the Breeders Crown Mare Trot, where she beat Classic Martine by a head in a stakes-record effort. In 2013, Bee A Magician was unbeaten in 17 races on her way to Horse of the Year honours.

Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races last year, earning $1.2 million for the Solveig’s Racing Partners ownership group. The Jimmy Takter-trained filly finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown with a stakes-record performance and also set or equaled stakes records in the Matron, American-National, and Elegantimage.

“It’s a very solid group,” Oakes said about the division. “We’ll see how it unfolds this year, but now you add Shake It Cerry to the mix. Sometimes four-year-olds have trouble making the transition against older horses, but she looked so good that she’ll probably fit in with no problem.”

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.

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