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Norman On The Cutler And His ‘Bee’

Published: May 13, 2015 4:10 pm ET

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Every little thing she does is magic – or at least it has been so far this season for Bee A Magician. According to her trainer, Nifty Norman, “She’s just bigger, stronger, more mature.”

Bee A Magician, the five-year-old female trotter who was harness racing’s 2013 Horse of the Year, has started her campaign with back-to-back wins over male rivals – first in a track-record performance in the Open Handicap at Yonkers Raceway and next from the Meadowlands’ Post 10 in a prep for Saturday’s Arthur J. Cutler Memorial.

She will try to make it three in a row when she starts from Post 8 with driver Brian Sears in the $183,650 final of the Cutler Memorial at the Big M. A mare has never won the Cutler, which was first contested in 1998. In fact, Bee A Magician is only the fourth to compete in the event, joining Fern (eighth in 2000), Mystical Sunshine (fifth in 2006) and Buck I St Pat (second in 2011).

The Cutler is part of a card at the Meadowlands that includes the seasonal debuts of Dan Patch Award-winner Artspeak in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old male pacers and millionaire JK Endofanera in the first round of the TVG Free For All Series for older pacers.

Last year, Bee A Magician won four of 17 races and earned $421,314 for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and she finished second in the Hambletonian Maturity, Allerage Farms Mare Trot, and Ima Lula Series championship.

“She’s just bigger, stronger, more mature,” trainer Nifty Norman said. “It’s just the difference between being a four-year-old and a five-year-old. And she seems very settled and happy with herself. Her appetite is great and she just seems really content. Hopefully that trend continues.”

Bee A Magician was undefeated in 17 starts at age three, earning $1.54 million, and was named Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada. Although she saw her win rate drop last season, she hit the board 12 times and trotted a then-world-record 1:51.1 to capture a preliminary division of the Miss Versatility Series. Three times she finished second in races that either set or equalled the world record.

“I think the strength of that (trotting mare) group probably doesn’t get enough credit,” Norman said. “Classic Martine and company, there are some good horses in that class. We went in (1):51 a bunch of times last year racing those mares. I think two or three of them are probably good enough to go against the boys as well. It was a really good group.

“At the same time, I think (Bee A Magician) is better this year. She seems to be handling things better.”

Last week, Bee A Magician and driver Scott Zeron left from Post 10 and methodically moved to the front in an opening quarter-mile of :27.4. They yielded the lead to DWs NY Yank prior to the halfway point and remained in second until exiting the final turn, when Zeron moved Bee A Magician to the outside and trotted home in a national season’s best 1:51.3.

Elitloppet invitee Wind Of The North finished second and Melady’s Monet was third.

“It was fantastic,” Norman said. “I was very, very pleased with that. It was unbelievable. Scotty read the race well. No one left (from the starting gate) and he ended up getting a perfect trip really. But she was very good as well.”

Bee A Magician is not the only former Dan Patch Award winner in the Cutler Memorial final. Two-time honouree Market Share, who was making his 2015 debut in the prep and finished sixth, will start from Post 3. The remainder of the field includes Opening Night, Master Of Law, Expressive Action, Lindys Tru Grit, and Appomattox.

“I think Brian will probably try to do a similar thing to what Scotty did,” Norman said about the final. “He’ll probably put her in the flow and try to be the last horse to the top, I would imagine. But we’ll see how it works out.”

If all goes well, Bee A Magician will follow the Cutler with a trip to Harrah’s Philadelphia for the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational on May 24. And she could see a number of starts against the boys throughout the season. If that’s the case, once Sebastian K and Father Patrick enter the fray there could be times when at least four Dan Patch Award winners meet up.

“As long as we’re competitive I think we’re probably going to race the boys a bit more often,” Norman said. “Obviously there are some horses to come out of the woodwork yet; I think the class is probably going to get stronger as we go forward. But at the moment it seems like we’re competitive in there, so that’s alright.”

Following is the field in post order for the Cutler Memorial with listed drivers and trainers:

1 – Opening Night – Corey Callahan – Jim Campbell
2 – DWs NY Yank – Yannick Gingras – Ron Burke
3 – Market Share – Tim Tetrick – Linda Toscano
4 – Master Of Law – Brett Miller – Jimmy Takter
5 – Expressive Action – Pat Berry – John Grasso
6 – Wind Of The North – David Miller – Daryl Bier
7 – Lindys Tru Grit – Andy Miller – Julie Miller
8 – Bee A Magician – Brian Sears – R. Nifty Norman
9 – Appomattox – Andrew McCarthy – Ron Burke
10 – Meladys Monet – John Campbell – Kevin McDermott

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

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