LEXINGTON, KY – e Five Racing and Stonestreet Stables’ Good Magic returned from his last outing with a vengeance, displaying a strong kick to convincingly take Saturday’s Grade 2, $1,000,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Breaking well from post 11 under Jose Ortiz, the defending Juvenile champion sat well-placed in fifth heading into the first turn while Arawak and Flameaway dueled on the front through splits of :23.55, :47.40, and 1:11.89. Making his move through the far turn, Good Magic quickly took command from the pacesetters and emerged onto the stretch with a clear lead. Set down for the drive, the Chad Brown trainee was kept to task and crossed first by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:50.18 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
“It was perfect, we had a good trip,” Ortiz said. “We broke really well and everything went really well. The way I planned was to sit back a little bit off the front, and everything turned out perfect. I was pretty confident in him because I know he’s a good horse out of the gate. I knew he was going to help me a lot and I was going to have a clear road to the first turn.”
Flameaway fought hard down the stretch to maintain a stranglehold on second, clear of the darting mess that was Sporting Chance. Rider Luis Saez gave Sporting Chance a few right-handed cracks of the whip, to which his steed reacted by angling inward. Saez attempted to correct Sporting Chance by switching to a left-handed whip, but as soon as he did, Sporting Chance lugged out hard to the outside. In doing so, he nearly collided with a late-running Free Drop Billy, a move that the stewards ultimately ruled was unfair. Free Drop Billy was then placed third, with Sporting Chance dropping down to fourth.
Behind the top four came a pair of graded stakes winners in Blended Citizen, winner of the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks last out, and Kanthaka, victor of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. Tiz Mischief nosed out seventh over Marconi, with Zing Zang, California Night, Gotta Go, Machismo, Determinant, and Arawak completing the order of finish. Quip was scratched and will instead run in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby next Saturday.
The Blue Grass is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Good Magic earned 100 points for the win, with Flameaway receiving 40 for second, Free Drop Billy 20 for third, and Sporting Chance 10 for fourth.
Good Magic’s win was the second of his career, following his historic maiden-breaking effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall. The son of Curlin disappointed last out in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes when he returned from a four-month layoff to run a flat third. With a career bankroll nearing $2 million (it currently sits at $1,855,000), perhaps the colt has finally grown up.
“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.”
Good Magic returned $5.20 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.80 to show. Flameaway brought back $5 to place and $3.80 to show, while Free Drop Billy paid $3.60 to show.