Kentucky Derby Magic! Mage Wins Derby 149

Mage | Horsephotos


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Abracadabra: Mage (Good Magic) is your 149th winner of the GI Kentucky Derby.

The lightly raced GI Curlin Florida Derby runner-up, off at odds of 15-1, took advantage of a torrid early pace and rallied from as far back as 16th to reel in a very game Two Phil's (Hard Spun) by a length. Lukewarm 4-1 favorite Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) also came flying from far back to finish another half-length back in third. 'TDN Rising Star' Disarm (Gun Runner) rounded out the superfecta in fourth.

Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Forte (Violence), a length ahead of Mage in the final Gulfstream prep, was withdrawn on the morning of the race with a foot issue, the well-documented fifth defection from the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

Mage, a $235,000 KEESEP yearling turned $290,000 EASMAY breezer, is campaigned in partnership by Gustavo Delgado's OGMA Investments, LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sam Herzberg's Sterling Racing LLC and Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin's CMNWLTH. He is trained by Venezuela native Delgado.

A three-time winner of his home country's equivalent of the Triple Crown, Delgado's previous Grade I winners on these shores include Paola Queen (Flatter) and Bodexpress (Bodemeister).

“It's an amazing feeling,” winning co-owner and assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado, Jr. said. “I felt so confident going into this race, because my dad was the trainer. And he was telling me step by step what he was doing with the horse. It was a masterpiece.”

Restrepo, Fasig-Tipton's South Florida Field Representative and owner of Marquee Bloodstock, added, “The emotions are just through the roof, obviously. The ownership group is four different groups from four different backgrounds, all different age ranges, nationalities. I mean, it's one heck of a melting pot that came together for this horse.

“Gustavo Sr. as a trainer has had so much success in South America, and he has come here and has always had a small boutique stable, and has always wanted to increase his presence to have more quality horses with a lot more owners.

“Myself as a bloodstock agent, who has been trying to increase his profile as well, we kind of combined forces three years ago to start buying horses domestically and internationally and try to invest a little money and use the relationships that I have here to bring in people that are willing to have the faith to go forward with us and take the swing.”

Mage joins some very exclusive company to win the Derby while making just his fourth career start. The filly Regret did it way back in 1915, dual Classic winner Big Brown ended the drought in 2008 and Triple Crown winner Justify pulled it off most recently in 2018.

A front-running debut winner sprinting at Gulfstream Jan. 28, Mage was an unlucky fourth after an impossible trip while making his two-turn debut in the GII Fountain of Youth S. and ran too good to lose after unleashing an explosive five-wide rally on the far turn and leading in deep stretch last time in the Florida Derby.

How the Race Was Won…

So much for a paceless Derby.

Verifying (Justify), Kingsbarns (Uncle Mo) and Reincarnate (Good Magic) all had running on their minds and led the field of 18 through blazing opening fractions of :22.35 and :45.73.

The GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks winner Two Phil's and Jareth Loveberry, meanwhile, raced just behind the leaders in fourth while Mage only had three horses beaten heading into the backstretch.

Jockey Javier Castellano, ahem, began to work his magic from the back of the pack as Mage sliced his way through traffic.

Two Phil's punched his way through an inviting opening along the rail on the far turn and kicked for home leading the way to the roar of 150,335 as Mage and GI Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire were beginning to launch on the far outside.

Castellano had Mage completely rolling at this point and entered the stretch in the seven path with dead aim on leader. Two Phil's knuckled down admirably down the stretch, but began to feel the impact of the scorching early pace close to home. Mage took over leaving the eighth pole behind and carried his Hall of Fame rider across the wire for a long-overdue first Kentucky Derby win from 16 mounts.

“I'm so thankful for the opportunity to ride the horse,” the four-time Eclipse Award winner Castellano said. “The whole team gave me the opportunity to ride this horse in the biggest race in the world. I had a lot of confidence in myself this year would be the year. I thought this year would be the year. This horse was unbelievable today.”

Mage Pedigree Notes…

Good Magic may have lost the battle for leading freshman sire as 2022 drew to a close, finishing second to Bolt d'Oro by a slim margin, but he has certainly won the war. The Hill 'n' Dale sire, who himself finished second in the 2018 Derby to Justify (third on that same first-crop sire list last year) after a championship juvenile campaign, is now safely perched alone on top. He came into this year's Derby with two chances–Mage and Reincarnate–and now leads the second-crop sire charts with two winners at the highest level in his nascent sire career. Kentucky Derby winner Mage joins 'TDN Rising Star' Blazing Sevens as another Grade I winner for the son of Curlin. Good Magic, with nine black-type winners and six graded winners, has been standing this season for $50,000.

It's impossible to mention Good Magic without also noting his sire, Curlin, who was third in the 2007 Derby–also in his fourth career start–and also stands at Hill 'n' Dale as one of the elite sires in the U.S. Curlin has no fewer than four sons who have sired Grade I winners and this marks the second consecutive year one of his sons has sired the Derby winner after Keen Ice supplied 80-1 Rich Strike last year. Curlin had another moment in the sun earlier on this year's Derby undercard when Cody's Wish captured the GI Churchill Downs S.

While a few of Good Magic's stakes horses have hailed from Storm Cat lines, Mage is out of a Big Brown mare. The 2008 Derby winner, a Danzig-line stallion, stands in New York at Irish Hill and Dutchess Views Stallions. Mage is the ninth black-type winner out of one of his daughters.

Robert Clay's Grandview Equine bred Mage out of Puca, a mare he purchased for $475,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November sale in foal to Gun Runner. Clay knows more than the average person about Gun Runner, as the young sire sensation stands at Three Chimneys, the farm Clay founded and eventually sold to Goncalo Torrealba. Incidentally, Big Brown started his stud career there, too.

Mage's dam was a 'TDN Rising Star' in 2014 after she won by more than 16 lengths at Belmont. The eventual 2015 GII Gazelle S. runner-up and half to GISW Finnegans Wake (Powerscourt {GB}) has a 2-year-old full-brother to Mage–sold for $325,000 at Keeneland September to Oracle Bloodstock–and a yearling colt by McKinzie. For details on how Clay acquired Puca, as well as his stake in young stallion Olympiad, and why Puca visited both Olympiad and Good Magic this year, click to read last week's TDN feature Mage Benefits from Feet of Clay.

Puca traces directly to an outstanding Greentree family and the 1936 mare Alms, a half-sister to Hall of Famer and 1931 Kentucky Derby winner Twenty Grand, whose rivalry with Equipoise was legendary.  –by Jill Williams

What They're Saying…

“In the turn, the whole opened up and I said I can't wait. He proved he is a world-class horse today.” —Two Phil's jockey Jareth Loveberry

“We might have just gone a little too quick. Got to take a shot.” —Verifying's jockey Tyler Gaffalione

“Angel of Empire ran well. It was a hot pace. Down the backside he had a few beat. We had a little bit of excitement down the lane. I thought (Angel of Empire) had a shot. Hit Show had a beautiful trip from the one hole. We were close, but we come here to win it, so I'm a little disappointed. Overall, very happy with the horses' performances. Off to Preakness with somebody. We have First Mission. This is demanding. I don't know if I'll run any of these horses back in two weeks.” —Brad Cox, trainer of Angel of Empire (third), Hit Show (fifth), Jace's Road (17th) & Verifying (16th)

Tapit Trice did what he always does–he broke slow and then he had to check a couple of times heading into the first turn. When it came time he couldn't get going well enough. We're thinking Belmont. Kingsbarns ran as far as he could and as hard as he could, but the half mile was a little too fast for him and he just couldn't keep up.” —Todd Pletcher, trainer of Tapit Trice (seventh) & Kingsbarns (14th)

“He faced some of the best 3-year-olds in the country. Obviously, I was hoping for a better finish today. I loved that he continued on, through it all. He was fourth today, and he's a solid horse. The race could have been smoother for everybody. You put 18 in there, there was a lot of contact and stuff like that. He took a whole lot of dirt on the backside. You could tell it was a little confusing to him for a ways down the backside, but he stayed on well. It looked like when he got a seam there, about the eighth pole, he could do it. Then he still finished up OK.” –Steve Asmussen, trainer of Disarm (fourth)

Two More Equine Deaths at Churchill Downs…

It wasn't all roses on Kentucky Derby day.

The Kentucky Derby day program was marred by two equine fatalties–the stakes-placed Freezing Point (Frosted) in the GII Pat Day Mile S. and the maiden Chloe's Dream (Honor Code) (2nd race)–making it seven horse deaths beneath the Twin Spires since Apr. 27.

A statement from Churchill Downs Inc. released late on Saturday evening read,

“Two horses sustained severe injuries during today's Churchill Downs race card. Chloe's Dream suffered a right knee fracture in Race 2 at the top of the first turn. Freezing Point incurred a left front biaxial sesamoid fracture in Race 8 midway down the backstretch. In the interest of pursuing the most humane treatment for each horse, the owner, trainer and private veterinarian, in consultation with a board-certified equine surgeon, made the difficult decision to euthanize. We express our most sincere condolences to those connections who cared for and loved Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point.

It is with the utmost sadness that we report these tragic fatal injuries. Churchill Downs is unwavering in our commitment to the health and well-being of equine safety. The equine fatalities leading to this year's Kentucky Derby are a sobering reminder of the urgent need to mobilize our industry in order to explore every avenue possible and effectively minimize any avoidable risk in the sport.

Despite our determination to continually improve upon the highest industry standards, there is more to be done and we will rigorously work to understand what caused these incidents and build upon our existing data, programs and practices to better understand what has been incredibly difficult for us to witness and accept this week.

While each incident reported has been unique, it is important to note that there has been no discernable pattern detected in the injuries sustained. Our track surfaces are closely monitored by industry experts to ensure their integrity. Each horse that participates in racing at Churchill Downs must undergo multiple, comprehensive veterinarian exams and observations to ensure their fitness to race.

From here, we will fully and actively work with the Kentucky Horseracing Commission (KHRC) and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) to thoroughly investigate each incident to determine, to the degree possible, any underlying health or environmental causes and apply those learnings to continue to improve the safety of this sport. Together, we all want what is best for the horses.

The team at Churchill Downs works year-round to deliver an inspiring and world-class event to thousands of fans, but also to provide the safest racing environment each and every day. We are proud of the enduring legacy of the Kentucky Derby and these magnificent horses are central to its iconic appeal. While we believe the incidents leading to this year's Derby are anomalies, they are unacceptable and we remain steadfast in our commitment to safety and integrity.”

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority issued a statement of its own late Saturday, which read:

“HISA mourns the losses of Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point alongside their connections and the entire racing community. HISA's mission is to vigorously protect the safety of our horses and riders. The Racetrack Safety Program has been in effect since July 2022 and requires thorough pre-race veterinary inspections to ensure every horse is fit to race and holds every track to rigorous safety and maintenance standards.

“Churchill Downs has been cooperating with HISA since its inception and is in full compliance with our rules and processes. On the morning of each race, every horse undergoes a hands-on inspection and is observed in motion outside their stall. A team of Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) regulatory veterinarians also views each horse in the paddock, during the post parade and as they approach and load into the starting gate. If a horse is deemed unfit to race by the regulatory veterinarians, it will be scratched, as was the case in a number of circumstances this week. Both Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point passed all inspections without incident.

“Additionally, Churchill Downs retained Mick Peterson, Director of the Racetrack Safety Program at the University of Kentucky and the preeminent racetrack surface expert, to ensure safe and consistent conditions across racing and training surfaces. Peterson was previously retained by HISA as part of its national accreditation process, and we are confident in his ability to identify potential issues at play. Dr. Peterson has assured both HISA and Churchill Downs that the racing surface is safe.
“HISA is in constant communication with the KHRC as it leads investigations into the recent fatalities, and has already initiated its own, fully independent, investigation. HISA will share more details as they are available.

Saturday, Churchill Downs
KENTUCKY DERBY PRESENTED BY WOODFORD RESERVE-GI, $3,000,000, Churchill Downs, 5-6, 3yo, 1 1/4m, 2:01.57, ft.
1–MAGE, 126, c, 3, by Good Magic
                1st Dam: Puca (SW & GSP, $299,406),
                                by Big Brown
                2nd Dam: Boat's Ghost, by Silver Ghost
                3rd Dam: Rocktheboat, by Summer Squall
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($235,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP; $290,000 2yo '22
EASMAY). O-OGMA Investments, LLC, Ramiro Restrepo,
Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH; B-Grandview Equine (KY);
T-Gustavo Delgado; J-Javier Castellano. $1,860,000. Lifetime
Record: 4-2-1-0, $2,107,200. *1/2 to Gunning (Gun Runner),
MSP, $271,835. Werk Nick Rating: C.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Two Phil's, 126, c, 3, Hard Spun–Mia Torri, by General
Quarters. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($150,000 RNA Ylg '21 KEESEP).
O-Patricia's Hope LLC, Phillip Sagan and Madaket Stables LLC;
B-Phillip Sagan (KY); T-Larry Rivelli. $600,000.
3–Angel of Empire, 126, c, 3, Classic Empire–Armony's Angel,
by To Honor and Serve. ($32,000 RNA Wlg '20 KEENOV;
$70,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC;
B-Forgotten Land Investment Inc & Black Diamond Equine
Corp (PA); T-Brad H. Cox. $300,000.
Margins: 1, HF, 3. Odds: 15.21, 9.87, 4.06.
Also Ran: Disarm, Hit Show, Derma Sotogake (Jpn), Tapit Trice, Raise Cain, Rocket Can, Confidence Game, Sun Thunder, Mandarin Hero (Jpn), Reincarnate, Kingsbarns, King Russell, Verifying, Jace's Road, Cyclone Mischief. Scratched: Continuar (Jpn), Forte, Lord Miles, Practical Move, Skinner.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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