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Kentucky Derby Hero Mage Arrives At Pimlico | 2023 Preakness Stakes News
Mage at Pimlico (Maryland Jockey Club)

Kentucky Derby Hero Mage Arrives At Pimlico | 2023 Preakness Stakes News

Gustavo Delgado and Gustavo Delgado Jr. arrived at historic Pimlico Race Course by car Sunday morning for the 2023 Preakness Stakes (G1), seconds after their Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage made the scene following an overnight van ride from Louisville, Kentucky.

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Delgado Jr., assistant trainer to his father, recalls being in Baltimore “no more than three times before.” The first time came four years ago when the Delgados had their first Preakness starter in Bodexpress. Unfortunately, the Florida Derby (G1) runner-up reared at the start and unseated Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

The good news is that Bodexpress galloped around the track safely, didn’t impede anyone in the race and went on to become a Grade 1 winner the next year in Churchill Downs’ Clark to cap a career with just shy of $700,000 in earnings.

The Delgados’ fortunes fared far better last year, when Delgado Jr. returned to Baltimore not to run a horse but to go to Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale in nearby Timonium at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. It was Delgado Jr.’s first time attending that sale, he said.

Three days after Early Voting won the Preakness, the colt Delgado Jr. and partner and bloodstock agent Ramiro Restrepo liked the best came into the sales ring. By then it was so late that Delgado Jr. already was at the airport to catch a flight when bidding began on Hip No. 592, a chestnut son of Good Magic out of the Big Brown mare Puca. They’d agreed upon a limit of $200,000, with Restrepo giving Delgado the play-by-play over their cell phones. The $200,000 bid came and was passed.

“I liked the horse a lot and felt we shouldn’t let him go,” Delgado Jr. reflected recently. “I had a feeling, you might say, and just followed my intuition. I had to catch a plane back to Lexington. I was at the airport. Boarding time had already passed, and I didn’t want to get on the plane yet. So, I was just waiting for the horse. I was on the phone and kept telling him, ‘Go ahead! Go ahead! Go ahead! Don’t let him go!’ Then he said, ‘We got him.’ Then it was, ‘Where do we find the money?’ We knew we had so little time to find a partner.”

They had purchased the colt for $290,000, which Delgado Jr. said was just about as high as they could afford to go. It was actually higher than they could afford. So Restrepo brought in two other groups to make it four ownership entities at 25 percent apiece. The others are Miami real estate investor Sam Herzberg and the CMNWLTH micro-shares partnership founded by Chase Chamberlin and Brian Doxtator. 

“Thank goodness Sam Herzberg and CMNWLTH came along,” Delgado Jr. said. “That’s thanks to Ramiro, because he’s the one who contacted them and had the good relationships with them prior to the sale.” 

Bodexpress stamped his place in Preakness history, too, albeit the type trainers want to avoid. A loose horse might delight the crowd when it keeps running with its rivals that still have jockeys on their back, but it is a horrifying experience for horsemen, for fear the horse might get hurt or somehow alter the outcome of the race.

“With Bode, he got famous,” Delgado Jr. said with a wry smile. “Last year we attended the sale, looking for the right horse. I didn’t go to the track, though. Let’s see how this year goes. We’re trying to change our luck at the track.” 

Bodexpress had yet to win a race when he finished second behind Maximum Security in the Florida Derby. He lost all chance in the Kentucky Derby when caught up in the melee triggered when Florida Derby winner Maximum Security veered out, interfering with War of Will. Maximum Security was disqualified, promoting 65-1 runner-up Country House into the victory, while War of Will moved up to seventh and Bodexpress to 13th. War of Will in his next start won the Preakness, while Bodexpress ran into more misfortunate. 

“He was doing so well for that race,” Delgado Jr. said of Bodexpress. “We had the feeling he could have run very well. Bode was special in his character; most people probably would have gelded him, but we wanted to stick with horsemanship, give him time, being patient, understanding that’s his way and eventually he would mature. Which he did.”

Delgado Jr. said Mage’s character is completely different. “Both talented, though,” he said. “Both fast.”

Mage arrived at Pimlico at 6 a.m. Sunday following an 11-hour trip from Churchill Downs, where the son of Good Magic has been stabled since winning the Derby.

The Delgados – with the elder Delgado driving – followed behind their Derby winner’s van the entire way.

Delgado Jr. said two stops were made. 

“We stopped for gas and we stopped to check (Mage’s) water,” Delgado Jr. said. “We left when we did because we wanted to beat traffic. It was a good, smooth trip. He is a good traveler.”

Once Mage got to Pimlico, he walked after exiting the van and laid down in his new stall for a bit. By 8:30, he was up and alert, checking out his new surroundings. The plan is for Mage to make his first appearance on the track early Monday morning.