By Dean A. Hoffman
COLUMBUS, OH – The girl beat the boys and the invaders whipped the home team.
Bee A Magician led a select group of trotters that visited Scioto Downs on Saturday night for the $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial Trot and the out-of-towners trotted away with the bulk of the cash.
It was measured, pace-setting victory for the 1-9 favorite Bee A Magician, who pushed her career earnings past $3 million in the process. It was her fourth win in five starts this season.
She defeated DW’S NY Yank, a fixture at Yonkers and other Eastern tracks for the Ron Burke Stable, while Il Sogno Dream got third. Yonkers regular Obrigado got fourth money.
At the start of the race, Chris Page sent DW’s NY Yank, to the front from post four, just outside of Bee A Magician. DW’s NY Yank was actually the second choice in the field at odds of 12-1. Brian Sears, driving Bee A Magician, was content to let Page get the first call out of the gate.
“She wasn’t quite as aggressive as she has been,” said Sears after the race. “I just wanted to be the last one to get to the front.”
He accomplished that goal just past the :28 opening quarter was concluded. He then immediately tapped the brakes on the big mare and let her idle through a second panel in 29.2. When they reached the half-mile marker in :57.2, Sears was confident.
“I raced her conservatively because I knew I had some horses parked out behind me,” Sears explained. Those horses in the outer flow were Natural Herbie, Lindy’s Tru Grit, and Obrigado.
A third quarter in a modest :28.4 was enough to keep the pursuers at bay, but Sears and his champion mare got serious at that point, stepping on the gas to repulse Natural Herbie. DW’s NY Yank shook free in the stretch and mounted a challenge that was too little and too late and fell short by a neck.
The winning time was 1:53.3.
Il Sogno Dream finished third with Obrigado fourth and Count Me In picking up the final paycheck.
After the race, Sears said taking the trotting hobbles off Bee A Magician off made no difference.
“She’s so good-gaited that you really don’t know how fast you’re going,” said Sears afterwards. “You can be going ahalf in 54 and change and it feels as if you’re going in 56 seconds.”
He pointed out that Bee A Magician’s comeback this year after a disappointing four-year-old season is simply because “she’s a year older and a year stronger. She’s not as stressed with all the shipping.”
The $3 million mare is owned by David McDuffee, Mel Hartman, and Herb Liverman and trained by Richard Norman.
The race, contested for the first time last year, is named in honor of the founder of Scioto Downs, which opened in 1959. Hill was also the owner of Hill Farms, which stood such top stallions as Falcon Almahusrt and B.F. Coaltown.
Last year’s Hill Memorial was won by the ill-fated Modern Family in the final victory of his career. He defeated Archangel and Creatine while Market Share and Arch Madness finished back in the pack.