Charging from far off a sizzling early pace, MAGE, from the first crop of the Curlin stallion Good Magic, won the 149th Kentucky Derby (G1) at 15-to-1 over a gallant TWO PHIL’S, a son of Hard Spun. Trainer Gustavo Delgado was winning his first Derby as was jockey Javier Castellano. Delgado’s son Gustavo Jr. is co-owner of Mage with Fasig-Tipton rep Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH. The colt was bred by Grandview Equine, owned by Robert Clay.
It was the second time in more than one hundred years of Kentucky Derbies that a horse that did not race at two won the 1 1/4 mile ‘Run for the Roses’ as Mage did not debut until January 28 this year at Gulfstream Park. Justify ended the ‘Apollo’ curse in 2018 as the first horse in 136 years to win the Derby without having raced at two.
Mage was a $235,000 yearling purchase by New Team and then a $290,000 two-year-old in training purchase at Fasig-Tipton Timonium in Maryland by OGMA Investments (Gustav Delgado Jr., son of the trainer).
Derby week was a rough one for many including Churchill Downs which had a rash of horse deaths and then suspended trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. for the sudden collapse of two of his horses. A number of horses dropped out of the Derby, but none was more stunning than the scratch of favourite FORTE on Derby morning. The colt, 6 for 7 in his career, had a tender right foot Saturday morning and the Todd Pletcher trainee was scratched by the commission vets.
During the very long 14-race card that began at 10:30 in the morning, two horses were fatally injured in races.
Fortunately, the 18 colts in the Derby made it around okay but the ones who were asked to set pace fractions of 22.35, 45.73 and 1:10.11 (Verifying, Kingsbarns and Reincarnate) stopped badly.
Mage was coming off a huge effort in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in his third career start when he was caught late by Forte despite a slow start. The colt won on debut at Gulfstream Park going seven furlongs on Jan. 28 and immediately was put in stakes company with a fourth-place finish behind Forte in the Fountain of Youth (GII).
The Derby field was sent on its way just before 7 p.m. and the favourite ended up being Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire, narrowly over Blue Grass (G1) winner Tapit Trice.
Those two were far off the pace while Two Phil’s and Jareth Loveberry were getting a dream run two off the rail just behind the leaders.
Turning into the backstretch, Mage had three horses beat. But in the run down the backside, Castellano began to maneuver Mage through traffic and on the far turn sliced through traffic to launch his bid.
At the top of the stretch, Two Phil’s swept to the lead but Castellano had Mage in high gear and swung into the lane eight wide with dead aim on the leader. Two Phil’s maintained his advantage to the eighth pole when Mage drove past and on to victory. The final time was 2:01.57, which compares well to most of the last 20 Derbies. Angel of Empire was third and Disarm was fourth. Canada’s champion jockey Kazushi Kimura, who got a chance to ride in his first Derby, finished 12th on Mandarin Hero (Jpn).
The victory was worth $1,860,000 and increased Mage’s earnings to $2,107,200 with a record of 4-2-1-0.
From America’s Best Racing:
Having gone well over budget for the Good Magic colt at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale in Timonium, Md, Restrepo immediately called Sam Herzberg of Sterling Racing, who Restrepo has known for more than 10 years. Restrepo, 44, and OGMA Investments wound up partnering with Herzberg’s Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH, which sells shares in promising horses, after he was purchased at the auction. Restrepo knew Chase Chamberlin and Brian Doxtator of CMNWLTH.
Herzberg previously reached the Kentucky Derby with Black Onyx in 2013, but the Spiral Stakes winner was forced to miss the race with an ankle injury the day before the race. For him after that heartbreak, the opportunity to partner with Restrepo and the Delgados was too good to pass up.
“So it’s been 10 years, and Ramiro calls me,” Herzberg said. “I’m in California. He said, ‘I just bought a horse at the Mid‑Atlantic sale. I think he’s the best Good Magic in the country.’ I said, yeah, I will take 25%.”
Mage’s dam PUCA, by Derby winner Big Brown, is a half-sister to millionaire and turf route stakes winner Finnegan’s Wake.
The pedigree lines on Mage are 4×4 with Mr. Prospector and 4×4 with Danzig.