Derby winner Mage resumes Triple Crown chase in the Preakness Stakes

Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Derby winner Mage resumes Triple Crown chase in the Preakness Stakes

Mage flew under the radar during Kentucky Derby week, especially at the betting windows.

Despite a handful of scratches that included morning-line favorite Forte, the lightly-raced colt was overlooked by the wagering public. Mage went off at 15-1 odds but proved best during the stretch run at Churchill Downs.

The son of Good Magic will have plenty of support when he enters the starting gate for the Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course on Saturday. Mage was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Even with the late flurry of defections, Mage faced 17 opponents in Louisville. He’ll only have seven challengers on Saturday and none that entered the starting gate with him on May 6.

The smaller field makes post positions much less important, but assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. was still pleased that Mage drew the No. 3 spot.

“I’m pretty content with it,” he said. “I was more concerned at the Derby with a 20-horse field. Eight horses now, I think every horse is going to have a decent shot, and hopefully, the best wins. That’s what horse racing is about.”

Mage’s main challengers, based on morning-line odds, drew the outside post and the rail. First Mission, who will exit the No. 8 post, is the 5-2 second choice and National Treasure, coming out of the No. 1 spot, is 4-1.

Mage’s upset was a big win for Venezuela, as trainer Gustavo Delgado (Sr.) and jockey Javier Castellano hail from that country. The horse was more familiar with Florida, as he raced three times at Gulfstream Park before shipping to Churchill Downs. He was a runner-up in the Florida Derby behind Forte, rallying from last after breaking slowly to take the lead before Forte caught him just before the wire.

Thirteen horses have won all three legs of the Triple Crown, including recent winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

Mage was 16th at the half-mile pole in the Derby, but an unexpectedly fast pace set up his late kick. He edged past Two Phil’s to win by a length.

The pace could be quite different on Saturday.

National Treasure, who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, is expected to be aggressively ridden by jockey John Velasquez. National Treasure is trained by Bob Baffert, who was banned for a second straight year from having an entrant in the Derby. Baffert has trained seven Preakness winners, including American Pharoah and Justify, both of whom went on to capture the Triple Crown.

Coffeewithchris is the only other entrant who typically flashes early speed. First Mission, who won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in his last start, should get a nice stalking spot outside of National Treasure and Coffeewithchris. He’s trained by Brad Cox, who had four entrants in the Derby.

“He’s gotten better as the year’s gone on. He seems to be thriving right now,” Cox said. “That’s really what you want to see going up to a big race.”

A slower pace could make it more challenging for Mage to launch another winning rally, a fact that is not lost on his assistant trainer.

“Our horse has to get a decent pace and make his run and hope for the best,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr.

The rest of the field includes No. 2 Chase the Chaos (50-1), No. 5 Red Route One (10-1), No. 6 Perform (15-1), and No. 7 Blazing Sevens (6-1).

–Field Level Media

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *