By Mike Kane
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.–A decision will be announced Tuesday on whether Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic) will run in the GI Haskell S. July 22 or train up to the GI Travers S. Aug. 26, co-owner Ramiro Restrepo said Friday.
Mage was given a break from training by trainer Gustavo Delgado after his third-place finish in the GI Preakness S. May 20. He had his fourth timed work Friday–six furlongs in 1:13.40–at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, Ky.
“Gustavo just wants to watch the horse until Tuesday,” Restrepo said. “There is no injury. No setback. Nothing negative. We just want to make sure that he is ready to go against horses like Tapit Trice (Tapit) and Arabian Knight (Uncle Mo). There are some serious horses in the Haskell. We want to make sure he makes a good account of himself. The horse has to say to us, 'I'm good.'”
The summer goal for the colt has been the historic $1.25 million GI Travers S. at Saratoga Race Course. Delgado and Mage's connections have been considering whether to have him make his first start back in the Haskell or the GII Jim Dandy at Saratoga July 29. They have focused on the Haskell in recent days, Restrepo said, because it is five weeks before the Travers. However, Delgado may elect to send Mage to Saratoga to train and skip a prep.
Mage did not race as a 2-year-old and has made five starts this year. He broke his maiden Jan. 28 at Gulfstream and finished fourth in the GII Fountain of Youth S. March 4. He secured his Kentucky Derby qualifying points with a second in the GI Florida Derby April 1 and delivered in the Derby at odds of 15-1.
Delgado did not immediately commit to run in the Preakness two weeks after the Derby, but did decide to try him in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. He promptly was sent off to a vacation after the Preakness.
“The break did him wonders,” Restrepo said. “That's what caught our attention. You're so focused from the Derby to the Preakness, there's such a small window, you're really trying to make sure he makes it into the Preakness well, and there's no hiccups that you don't have a chance to step back and kind of view a bigger picture.”
Restrepo said that after being away from the colt for a few weeks, it was apparent that Mage benefitted from what he called a mini off-season.
“We all come back and we're like, 'Whoa. He's put on muscle. He's put on weight. He's matured,'” he said. “You could see it in his bones, in his body. It's crazy how that time off helped him kind of refill his gas tank. It was a wonderful break for him.”