Life could not have been much better for Cote Keim last week, on and off the track.
On Friday, the trainer saw his two-year-old pacers Magnifico Hanover and Costa Diva finish first and second, respectively, in divisions of the Reynolds Memorial at Tioga Downs. A day later, his wife, Jamie, gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, a girl named Josie Frances Keim.
“It’s a week I’ll never forget,” said the 41-year-old Keim.
He hopes to make this another memorable week, as well. On Friday, Keim will send out Magnifico Hanover in the second of four divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes for two-year-old male pacers at Lexington’s Red Mile. The gelding, who will start from post four in a field of nine with driver Brian Sears, is 5-1 on the morning line. He has two wins and a second in three races this season.
“He’s pretty special,” said Keim, who is in his fourth year with his own stable and has nine horses in training. “He’s done everything right from day one. He loves his job and doesn’t give you a hard time. He’s push-button. He knows when it’s time to work and he knows when it’s time to relax. He’s just different from any other horses that I’ve had before.”
Keim owns Magnifico Hanover, a son of Captaintreacherous-Mesmerize Bluechip that he purchased for $50,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. Magnifico Hanover is a full-brother to millionaire Marloe Hanover, who races Saturday in the Dayton Distaff Derby.
“I wanted a Captaintreacherous and I raced against Marloe Hanover when Nifty [Norman] had her,” said Keim. “I thought she was a really nice mare. When I saw this horse at the sale, I was impressed with everything about him. Everything lined up. I was willing to go up to $100,000 and I was shocked I got him for $50,000. I think people stayed away from him because he was a June foal, but it almost was like he was meant to be with me.”
In his career debut on Aug. 13 at Mohegan Pennsylvania’s Pocono Downs, Magnifico Hanover started from post eight and got a second-over trip around the last turn but was forced wide and lost ground when the horse ahead of him went off stride. Magnifico Hanover closed with a rush, though, and was beaten by only a half-length.
The next time out, Magnifico Hanover started from post seven and was seventh for the first half of the mile before closing with a :27.1 last quarter to win by a length in 1:53.4.
“His first start was when I thought I had something,” said Keim. “After the second, when he swooped the field, I was like, 'whoa, what have we got here?' I was going to take him to the Metro Pace, but he got sick the week before his prep race. I had a Plan B, which was to take him to Tioga.”
Magnifico Hanover won his Reynolds division from post eight in 1:52.3.
“He hadn’t raced in almost a month, so I was pretty impressed with that,” said Keim. “I think he earned his trip [to Lexington].”
Keim, who followed his grandfather Del Cote into harness racing, credited his wife with helping make the stable run smoothly.
“She holds down the fort so I can take care of business,” said Keim. “Without her, I wouldn’t be here.”
Magnifico Hanover is staked to all the Grand Circuit races for two-year-old male pacers the remainder of the season.
“And I put him in everything for next year too,” said Keim. “Hopefully, you’ll be hearing more about him. Everything so far has gone the way I’ve wanted it to go. It’s just been a real blessing.”
In addition to the four Bluegrass divisions for the two-year-old male pacers, the Red Mile on Friday hosts five Bluegrass splits for rookie female trotters. For a Red Mile program for Friday's card, click here.