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Mage won the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs with a strong stretch run, passing runner-up Two Phil’s late & holding off the favorite Angel of Empire in 3rd. Did you cash big on the Gustavo Delgado-trained son of Good Magic? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH’s Mage collared Two Phil’s at midstretch and went on to win the 149th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) for 3-year-olds before a crowd of 150,335.
Trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by Javier Castellano, Mage covered the mile and a quarter in 2:01.57 and gave Castellano his first Kentucky Derby victory from 16 mounts. It is the first Derby win for Delgado from three starters.
Mage is the fourth horse to win the Derby off only three lifetime starts. The others were Justify in 2018, Big Brown in 2008 and Regret in 1915.
The trio of Verifying, Kingsbarns and Reincarnate tore through opening fractions of :22.35, :45.73 and 1:10.11 with Two Phil’s and Jareth Loveberry 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 victory was worth $1,860,000 and increased Mage’s earnings to $2,107,200 with a record of 4-2-1-0.
Mage is a Kentucky-bred son of Good Magic out of the Big Brown mare Puca.
Mage 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) and then a runner-up finish to Forte in the Florida Derby (GI).
Mage returned $32.42, $14.58 and $9.08. Two Phil’s returned $10.44 and $6.52 and finished a half-length in front of favored Angel of Empire, who paid $4.70 to show under Flavien Prat.
It was another 3 lengths back to Disarm, who was followed in order by Hit Show, Derma Sotogake (JPN), Tapit Trice, Raise Cain, Rocket Can, Confidence Game, Sun Thunder, Mandarin Hero (JPN), Reincarnate, Kingsbarns, King Russell, Verifying, Jace’s Road and Cyclone Mischief.
Javier Castellano, Jockey, Mage, First: “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to ride the horse. The whole team gave me the opportunity to ride this horse in the biggest race in the world. I had a lot of confidence in myself this year would be the year. I thought this year would be the year. This horse was unbelievable today.”
Jareth Loveberry, Jockey, Two Phil’s, Second: “In the turn, the whole opened up and I said I can’t wait. He proved he is a world-class horse today.”
Flavien Prat, Jockey, Angel of Empire, Third: “He ran great. I had a good trip. I was able to get myself behind the winner turning for home and we definitely had a great chance to win.”
Joel Rosario, Jockey, Disarm, Fourth: “It was a big step for him. He responded to everything I asked him to do. It was a good race for him.”
Manny Franco, Jockey, Hit Show, Fifth: “I had a dream trip. My horse ran really well he just got beat by better horses.”
Christophe Lemaire, Jockey, Derma Sotogake (JPN), Sixth: “He didn’t break as fast as last time but I was able to put him on the inside and save ground. Gradually, we gained position on the final turn. I was in the best spot to make a move, he stayed on and but didn’t have the speed to make it closer late.”
Luis Saez, Jockey, Tapit Trice, Seventh: “He made a nice move but it was already done.”
Gerardo Corrales, Jockey, Raise Cain, Eighth: “My horse ran Ok. No problems.”
Junior Alvarado, Jockey, Rocket Can, Ninth: “My horse ran good today. I think I had one of the best trips in the race. He saved ground on the first turn and laying fourth or fifth. On the turn for home, I moved into third and he got a little tired.”
James Graham, Jockey, Confidence Game, 10th: “He quickened, he just didn’t go on again like he needed to. I liked our trip, four lengths back and he had his ears pricked.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., Jockey, Sun Thunder, 11th: “He split the pack. He had a pretty good trip around there, followed the winner but he just wasn’t good enough today.”
John Velazquez, Jockey, Reincarnate, 13th: “I was where I thought I’d be: in the first three. When we got to the quarter pole he didn’t have anything.”
Jose Ortiz, Jockey, Kingsbarns, 14th: “I sacrificed going a little bit faster than I wanted to in order to be in a good spot. I wish we could have given him a breather on the backside.”
Rafael Bejarano, Jockey, King Russell, 15th: “My horse ran good but we have no excuse. I was in a good position, in the middle of the pack, he made a nice move from the 5/8ths pole to the 3/8ths pole and then after that, he started to get tired and give up. I was happy but this race is very tough.”
Tyler Gaffalione, Jockey, Verifying, 16th: “We might have just gone a little too quick. Got to take a shot.”
Florent Geroux, Jockey, Jace’s Road, 17th: “He broke sharp and I tried to hustle him but he could not keep up with the three horses in front. He was not trying. Before I knew everyone started passing him.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., Jockey, Cyclone Mischief, 18th: “He missed the break and after that, he never got involved.”
Gustavo Delgado Jr., Owner/Assistant Trainer, Mage, First: It’s an amazing feeling. I have my entire family here. It’s such an amazing feeling. Sometimes you have to follow your intuitions and that’s what I did with this horse. Sometimes it pays out and sometimes it doesn’t. It really did today. When I saw him started to make his move I felt very confident. When (jockey) Javier (Castellano) started to asking I knew he’d sustain it.
“I felt so confident going into this race, because my dad was the trainer. And he was telling me step by step what he was doing with the horse. It was a masterpiece.
“I was asking for the wire, asking for the wire. Once he made the lead, it was how we had planned the race to happen. Everything went according to plan. This is the dream I have, a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a note: ‘We’re going to win the Derby next year.’
Not having the experience, he proved today that it didn’t matter.”
Larry Rivelli, Trainer, Two Phil’s, Second: “Man, he tried so hard and ran his heart out. I’m so proud of this horse and everyone involved. He ran an incredible race.”
Brad Cox, Trainer, Angel of Empire, Third, Hit Show, Fifth, Jace’s Road, 17th, Verifying, 16th: “Angel of Empire ran well. It was a hot pace. Down the backside he had a few beat. I don’t know where the winner was laying. We had a little bit of excitement down the lane. I thought he (Angel of Empire) had a shot. Hit Show had a beautiful trip from the one hole. We were close, but we come here to win it, so I’m a little disappointed. Overall, very happy with the horses’ performances. Off to Preakness with somebody. We have First Mission. This is demanding. I don’t know if I’ll run any of these horses back in two weeks.”
Steve Asmussen, Trainer, Disarm, Fourth: “He faced some of the best 3-year-olds in the country. Obviously, I was hoping for a better finish today. I loved that he continued on, through it all. He was fourth today, and he’s a solid horse. The race could have been smoother for everybody. You put 18 in there, there was a lot of contact and stuff like that. He took a whole lot of dirt on the backside. You could tell it was a little confusing to him for a ways down the backside, but he stayed on well. It looked like when he got a seam there, about the eighth pole, he could do it. Then he still finished up OK.”
Todd Pletcher, Trainer, Tapit Trice, Seventh, Kingsbarns, 14th: “Tapit Trice did what he always does – he broke slow and then he had to check a couple of times heading into the first turn. When it came time he couldn’t get going well enough; farther for him. We’re thinking Belmont. Kingsbarns ran as far as he could and as hard as he could, but the half mile (:45.73) was a little too fast for him and he just couldn’t keep up.”
Ben Colebrook, Trainer, Raise Cain, Eighth: “He was in a pretty good spot early but just didn’t have the late kick he needed.”
Bill Mott, Trainer, Rocket Can, Ninth: “We finished in the middle of the pack. He still put in a good effort today.”
Kenny McPeek, Trainer, Sun Thunder, 11th: “I think we’ll point to the Belmont after this. He was a little up against it today but we’ll come back to fight another day.”
Tim Yakteen, Trainer, Reincarnate, 13th: “It wasn’t our day. The most important thing is the horse came out of it OK.”
Ron Moquett, Trainer, King Russell, 15th: “He made us proud. We didn’t the result we wanted, but I knew we were up against it when I saw how wide he was in both turns. He came back very well. He’s happy. We’ll get them down the road.”
Dale Romans, Trainer, Cyclone Mischief, 18th: “It wasn’t our day today. He broke poorly and that was it.”
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