E Five Racing and Stonestreet Stables’ champion Good Magic on Saturday returned to top form and reminded everyone exactly why he earned the crown as last year’s top juvenile with his 1 ½-length victory in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GII) at Keeneland.
Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Curlin was ridden by Jose Ortiz and covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.18 over a fast main track. The victory awarded Good Magic, who was third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) last month in his sophomore debut, 100 points toward making the field for the $2 million Kentucky Derby and he now sits atop the leader board with a total of 134.
Good Magic’s latest victory, which is only his second from five starts, was worth $600,000 and bumped his career earnings to $1,855,000 with a record of 5-2-2-1. His other victory came in last year’s Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), which earned him the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old of 2017.
After the break, longshot Arawak set all the early pace through splits of of :23.55 and :47.40, with Flameaway up closest and to his outside. Good Magic was content to race mid-pack and well off the pace, sitting fifth and waiting patiently for the speed to back up to him. As the field rounded the far bend, Flameaway took the lead and logged six furlongs in 1:11.89 while Good Magic had moved up into contention on the outside, Sporting Chance following right behind.
But just as Flameaway straightened out for the drive, Good Magic claimed the lead and held the advantage over a hard-trying Flameaway down the lane, passing the eighth pole in 1:36.87 and continuing on easily to the win. On the wrong lead and clearly tired, Sporting Chance lugged out in deep stretch under Luis Saez and forced the hard-closing Free Drop Billy to alter course, possibly causing a placing for Free Drop Billy. After a stewards’ inquiry, Sporting Chance was disqualified from third to fourth and Free Drop Billy was bumped to third, which earned him 20 Derby points and 44 overall.
“In hindsight, [heading into the Fountain of Youth] he was probably a couple of works short,” Brown said. “If you want to stay on the Derby trail, you have to run when it’s time to get started. This horse came out of that race real well — bigger, stronger and has had some impressive workouts since. We were pretty confident coming into this race. I love the way he did it today.
“We’ll get him over to Churchill [Downs] and give him at least one work over the track and hopefully get him out to a mile and a quarter and hopefully he can handle it.”
Tampa Bay Derby (GII) runner-up Flameaway earned 40 points for his runner-up finish and now has 70 overall, making him to make the gate for the Derby.
As the 8-5 favorite, Good Magic returned $5.20, $3.60 and $2.80. Flameaway returned $5 and $3.80 and Free Drop Billy was good for $3.60 to show. The exacta paid $17.70 and the 50-cent trifecta $23.50.
Following Sporting Chance under the wire were Blended Citizen, Kanthaka, Tiz Mischief, Marconi, Zing Zang, California Night, Gotta Go, Machismo, Determinant and Arawak.
Kentucky-bred Good Magic, who is out of the Hard Spun mare Glinda the Good, was purchased for $1 million out of the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.