Dornoch (Good Magic)'s determined victory in the GII Remsen S. Saturday at Aqueduct has Danny Gargan mapping out possible paths to next year's GI Kentucky Derby, but the trainer admitted his charge has plenty of growing up to do if he is to make it to Churchill Downs on the First Saturday of next May.
Dornoch, who set swift fractions in the nine-furlong race Saturday, appeared defeated with a furlong to run when he bumped the rail and allowed Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) to surge past him. But Dornoch battled back along the inside and stuck his nose back in front in the final stride.
“It's crazy. Usually when a horse hits the rail at the eighth pole like he did, they just stop running altogether,” said Gargan. “I can't believe he re-rallied after that. He did see the other horse and get running back at him, but hitting the rail knocked him off stride and then it took him a few jumps to get back going. I think if he doesn't hit the rail, he stays in front. I've never seen a horse get passed a length and then come back and win. It was a really good race.”
Dornoch, a full-brother to this year's Derby winner Mage, will head south to winter at Palm Meadows with possible early 2024 targets including the GIII Withers S. at Aqueduct or the GII Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Park, according to Gargan.
“He'll tack walk for two or three weeks and then we'll figure it out from there,” said Gargan. “We'll probably see him around the Fountain of Youth. The Withers is always something you could win real easy if you wanted to win a race, it just depends who's where.”
Of what he would like to see from the colt over the winter, Gargan said, “We need him to focus running. He kind of looks around playing a little bit, and that's why he hit the rail. He's got to grow up a lot, and he's still out there goofing off. He did dig in in this race in the end, but he kind of put himself in that situation running green early. I think if another horse is around him, he won't lose focus. What we'll probably do next time is bring him off the pace which he can do. He'll finish in the lane so he'll get a little more out of the race and mature a little bit from it.”