by Karen Briggs
She might just have returned to the racetrack after four months of tendon rehab, but Bee A Magician was the horse to beat in the $250,000 Mare Trot, the first of four Breeders Crown races Friday night (Oct. 28) at The Meadowlands. And no one knew that better than Yannick Gingras.
Gingras, in the bike behind four-year-old Hannelore Hanover, plotted a perfect front-end trip that boxed in the indomitable Bee A Magician (Brian Sears) and never gave her an inch of racing room. The classic Gingras strategy killed two birds with one stone, allowing Hannelore Hanover (Swan For All—High Sobriety) the front-end room she thrives on. The result was a decisive, two-length victory in 1:53.3 for Hannelore Hanover, trainer Ron Burke, and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, and Jerry and Teresa Silva.
From a betting point of view, both Hannelore Hanover and Bee A Magician enjoyed plenty of respect. It’s a measure of how dominant these two mares have been in their division that even last year’s defending champion, D’One (Tim Tetrick), was designated the third choice, and two-time Breeders Crown champ, Shake It Cerry (David Miller) was assigned a very tasty 12-1 price.
Hannelore Hanover has been a model of consistency all season, posting 15 wins in 18 starts leading up to Breeders Crown night. She has only missed the board once, in mid-October’s Yonkers Invitational Trot, where the half-mile oval resulted in a costly break and a seventh-place finish. That glitch on her record clearly didn’t deter the punters, who bet her down to a miniscule 3-5 price.
By contrast, Bee A Magician (Kadabra—Beehive) has been invisible since a paddock mishap resulted in a strained tendon back in May. She only materialized – looking like she’d never been away, thanks to a steady swimming regimen — in early October, qualifying twice and then dominating the field at the $250,000 Yonkers Invitational Trot, Oct. 15. That was more than enough for the bettors to forgive her long absence and make her the 8-5 second choice going postward.
Charging out from post five, Bee A Magician took command in the early moments with Hannelore Hanover firing into second. Shortly after completing a respectable :27.4 first quarter, however, Gingras overtook and Sears slotted into second without putting up much of a fight, as Bee A Magician traditionally prefers to have someone to chase. The pair was promptly boxed in by Barn Doll and driver/trainer Jeff Gregory, however, and as the race progressed through a lukewarm middle half, Hannelore Hanover remained in command by a length while a rotating cast of mares kept Bee A Magician from making a move all the way to the wire.
In the stretch, there were late challenges from D’One and Shake It Cerry (David Miller), but both failed to stop the Hannelore Hanover freight train. Bee A Magician hung on for second while Shake It Cerry took the show spot.
“I didn’t doubt my mare. She’s a great horse,” said Gingras. “The International was just a race to forget on a half-mile track. There was definitely a Bee A Magician factor. She looked really good at Yonkers on October 15 and I thought she would definitely give me a run for the money.
“(Hannelore Hanover) has big lungs and that’s one of the reasons we were interested in going to Yonkers, the distance (a mile-and-a-quarter) doesn’t faze her at all. She’s always strong finishing, like she showed again tonight. She didn’t handle the half (mile track), but tonight she showed what a great horse she is.”
Burke said he was, “a little surprised when Yannick moved to the front, but I think he wanted to control the race and (to) make sure she didn’t get boxed in. Bee A Magician I’m sure had a little bit more trot, but I think we had a lot more too, so even if she got out I think we could have held on. Whatever it is, we got there. If we get the win, we’re happy.
“It’s always special to finish off a good year with a Breeders Crown win. I think that sews up — maybe there wasn’t a doubt — aged trotting mare (year-end honors), and keeps her in the running for Trotter of the Year. I think she’s got to be in the conversation for Horse of the Year. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit are the glamour two, but they’ve beat each other how many times? Nobody’s beaten (Hannelore Hanover). I know people are going to say she doesn’t face anybody, but those are good mares that’s she’s racing, and she’s beaten the boys. I think she probably lost it (Horse of the Year) when she didn’t do good in the Yonkers International Trot, but to me I think she’s had a good a year as anybody.”