Saturday Sires: Good Magic

Good Magic | Sarah Andrew

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The mighty Curlin's heir apparent might be a son standing alongside him at Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa.

Your average young stallion doesn't usually follow up a first-crop Classic winner with another one in his second crop. To be fair, your average young stallion doesn't often have a Classic winner at all. Good Magic is quickly proving he is not your average young stallion.

“Classic horses are certainly the peak, the goal of anyone who breeds, sells, or owns, or even stands stallions,” said Hill 'n' Dale's John Sikura, who stands both Good Magic and his sire, Curlin. “The test of time is if you get Grade I-caliber horses. It's a lovely metric that defines sires most.”

After Dornoch became his second Classic winner in just two crops to race in Saturday's GI Belmont S., Good Magic added an exclamation point to his weekend with yet another new graded winner Sunday when Society Man captured Churchill's GIII Matt Winn S.

Just how good is this young sire?

“That was a fantastic achievement,” said Sikura. “He's proven himself to be a Classic sire. To get Grade I winners is the hardest achievement for a stallion, the echelon of quality. For a stallion to do that repeatedly shows he's an elite horse.

“It's always the goal, but it's an elusive goal to achieve. If you're realistic, your expectations are always a bit guarded, but hope is immeasurable. He's delivered a Classic winner in each of two crops.”

While others have been eager to christen Good Magic the 'heir apparent' to Curlin, Sikura is somewhat more cautious and diplomatic in using that phrase.

“He's still forming his legacy and his sire record, so it's too early to say, but all indications are he's living up to all expectations. Curlin is in such rarified air, such a great horse. So far Good Magic has done everything expected of whomever Curlin's heir apparent might be.”

 

TDN Stallions: Good Magic from Thoroughbred Daily News on Vimeo.

 

It's impossible not to compare Good Magic to his sire, the phenomenal Curlin, as they stand side by side at Hill 'n' Dale. Their sire statistics show it's not only fair to make the comparison, but a compliment to both. Everyone knows how good Curlin is and the staggering numbers of elite performers he churns out, but, unlike Good Magic, it took him a little longer to start cranking out the Grade I winners.

Sire and son's first two crops have a comparable number of foals. Curlin had four graded winners from 14 stakes winners in his first two crops, including one Grade I winner. Ten of Good Magic's 18 black-type winners are graded, including four at the Grade I level.

Sikura has some ideas as to why Good Magic has gotten off to a faster start than Curlin at the same point in his career.

“There's a little difference in the aptitude of the offspring, a little more precocity in Good Magic's offspring, so you see them sooner and earlier. Curlin is such a fantastic horse of such versatility in every division, but it took him a little longer to express himself. Good Magic's offspring are a little lighter on their feet, not quite as substantial in their physicality.”

Each had a Classic winner in his first crop: Palace Malice in the 2013 Belmont for Curlin, Mage in the 2023 GI Kentucky Derby for Good Magic. Curlin would add a second Classic winner from his fourth crop in 2016 with Exaggerator in the GI Preakness S. Good Magic has done it in his second crop with Dornoch.

After Palace Malice, Curlin wouldn't get his second (and third, and fourth) Grade I winner until his third crop. Good Magic already has four: in addition to Dornoch is Derby winner Mage, GI Arkansas Derby/GI American Pharoah S. winner Muth, and GI Champagne S. winner Blazing Sevens.

With the hindsight of Curlin's prowess as an elite sire, the simple comparison and the fast start made by Good Magic is an eye-opener. He's also mandated a raise in his fee accordingly. When Good Magic retired in the latter part of 2018, Hill 'n' Dale introduced him at $35,000 for his initial season in 2019. Five years later, he stood this spring for an advertised fee of $125,000. His full book emphasizes quality over quantity.

“He can be a bit of shy breeder sometimes so we don't overwhelm him with mares,” said Sikura. “He's been a very popular horse from the beginning. Interest does not wane in him. He's had good, steady support.”

Dornoch the morning after the Belmont | Sarah Andrew

The last time in recent history a stallion got two Classic winners in his first two crops was when Birdstone got Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird in his initial crop of 3-year-olds. That horse would get a total of 10 graded winners–the same number Good Magic already has–over his entire career.

Further illustrating how elevated Good Magic's accomplishments already are is how tantalizingly close he's come to adding the Preakness, his progeny's only missing leg of the Triple Crown. In 2023, his sons Blazing Sevens and Mage finished second and third. In 2024, 'TDN Rising Star' Muth developed a fever and scratched as the morning-line favorite a few days before the race.

“It's really a rarity with two Classic winners in two crops and then to have the Preakness favorite scratched,” said Sikura. “It shows Good Magic is not a one-and-done sire and it's not luck. Those runners are now an expectation for him. It seems an unrealistic expectation of the horse, but that's what he delivers.”

Truthfully, Good Magic signaled he was special from the start. Bred in Kentucky by Barbara Banke's Stonestreet, who kept a piece of him when he sold for $1 million at Keeneland September to e Five Racing, he went into the 2017 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile a maiden. Admittedly, he was a maiden with two improving seconds from two previous starts, including in the Champagne, so it was both a bold and logical move to take a shot at racing's championship day. The gamble paid off in spades. Good Magic won the Breeders' Cup with such aplomb he was named Eclipse champion 2-year-old and the second of Curlin's nine U.S. and Canadian champions to date. His sophomore season concluded with wins in the GI Haskell S. and GII Blue Grass S., as well as with a second in the Kentucky Derby.

Some horses–extremely special horses–hit a very elusive trifecta of doing everything right every step of the way from sales ring to race career to breeding shed. Good Magic is one of those horses. With such a spectacular start to his young stud career, the sky has to be the limit, especially as the quality of mares in his book increases based on his initial success.

“[His success] is a great feeling of comfort to us and to Barbara [Banke] and to Stonestreet,” said Sikura. “Really it's fantastic for everyone involved with him.”

What does Good Magic's firm footing at the top mean for the extensive foundation Curlin has laid as a sire for the ages?

“A son perpetuating a legacy doesn't always happen,” said Sikura. “It's almost mythical that his son would stand next to Curlin and carry the torch, not that Curlin is anywhere through. May it continue.”

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