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Focus On Maxie Lee

Published: May 27, 2016 4:10 pm ET

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The 2016 edition of the Maxie Lee Memorial this Sunday (May 29) at Harrah's Philadelphia features a very deep, talented field, led by Bee A Magician.

The Nifty Norman trainee has won just about every award imaginable, as she continues on her trek to the $4 million mark in career earnings. She is making her fourth start of the year, and is coming off of an impressive tune-up at Yonkers Raceway that she won in 1:54.1 from Post 7 versus open company.

The second-leading money earner in the field is Solveig's Racing Partner's Shake It Cerry. A Dan Patch award winner at ages two and three, the now five-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover comes into the race off of a sharp qualifier at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1:52.4 (last quarter in :26.3). "I was really happy with the way she qualified," said regular driver David Miller. "She didn't race good in the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff. They looked at her and she was sick with an infection. They gave her some time." When asked about her chances in the Maxie Lee, Miller responded, "I like her spot. I think the race will set up good for her."

The race also includes 2015 older trotter of the year J L Cruze. The five-year-old son of Crazed rebounded well from a disappointing effort in the Elitlopp Playoff at the Big M with an easy win over the Harrah's oval last start.

The 12th race on a power-packed program is named after longtime horseman Maxie Lee.

A native of North Carolina, Lee made a name for himself as a trainer and driver in the Philadelphia area at Liberty Bell and Brandywine. He had back-to-back Delaware Valley Harness Horse of the Year winners in the mid-1970s with Black Gamecock and Valley Ken. Maxie Lee died in 2001 at the age of 70. Maxie's son, Greg Lee, makes the trip every year from North Carolina to present the trophy to the Maxie Lee Memorial winner, and this year will be no different.

In 1990, Maxie Lee became the first African-American with a starter in the Hambletonian, with the Peter Haughton winner Backstreet Guy. One of Greg's finest moments with his father was at the Little Brown Jug in 1991, when Maxie's charge, Nuke Skywalker, was runner-up to Precious Bunny in the finals. "My father said, ‘Come September, they will know who this horse is. In the Little Brown Jug, we're going to give them a fit.’"

The complete field is listed below.

$200,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational
(PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line)
1-Obrigado-Mark MacDonald-Paul Kelley-5-1
2-Wind Of The North-George Napolitano Jr.-Daryl Bier-12-1
3-Gural Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-20-1
4-JL Cruze-Corey Callahan-Eric Ell-7-2
5-Il Sogno Dream-Scott Zeron-Chris Beaver-7-1
6-Shake It Cerry-David Miller-Jimmy Takter-5-1
7-Bee A Magician-Brian Sears-R. Nifty Norman-5-2
8-Maestro Blue Chip-Tim Tetrick-Jo Ann Looney-King-8-1

Also on the Sunday afternoon card are the $200,000 Betsy Ross (aged mare pace) featuring Milton Stakes winner Venus Delight and Breeders Crown champion Colors A Virgin, and the $200,000 Dorthy Mullin (aged horse pace) featuring Confederation Cup winner Rockin Ron, and runner-up Wiggle It Jiggleit.

(With files from Harrah’s Philadelphia)

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