Fred Faour: Mage gets it done in the Kentucky Derby; what’s next?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Pat Benic/UPI/Shutterstock (13902936a) Mage with Javier Castellano aboard (L) wins the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby ahead of Two Phil’s with Jareth Loveberry aboard (R) on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Kentucky Derby 2023, Louisville, United States – 06 May 2023

Fred Faour: Mage gets it done in the Kentucky Derby; what’s next?

As Mage crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby, thoughts immediately turn to the Preakness. Can Mage win it? Can he make a Triple Crown bid?

Mage won the 149th Derby, beating Two Phils and Angel of Empire. He came in lightly raced. In his last race, he was second to Forte in the Florida Derby. He made a premature move to the lead and got run down that day. But with Forte out, he timed his move perfectly this time and won America’s biggest race.

But moving ahead, can he do it again in Baltimore?

Horses that win the Derby tend to keep their form. Many good horses tend to skip the Preakness, so Derby winners have an edge in the Preakness.

The question is will he be good enough? A big advantage is trainer Todd Pletcher tends to pass on the Preakness, which means Forte will likely wait for the Belmont. That would also likely include Derby second favorite Tapit Trice, who was not a threat Saturday, and Kingsbarns, who chased the pace and faded badly, Pletcher’s other horses.

Tomorrow we will have a better idea of the competition, but Angel of Empire, third in the Derby, could be a threat.

Mage was not a hopeless long shot at 15-1. His Florida Derby was pretty solid, and on Saturday he was the best horse. But the race did set up well for him.

The pace in Baltimore might not be as hot. But with Forte out, this is a pretty weak group of 3-year-olds. That’s how Justify won his Triple Crown; he beat a bunch of bad horses. Will Mage be able to do that as well? We will see. Even if he gets past the Preakness, he does not seem like a horse who can win the Belmont.

But he did win the Derby. Let’s see what is next.

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