It's Official: Mage Set for Preakness
Friday, May 12, 2023
BALTIMORE - Kentucky Derby winner Mage was officially confirmed this morning for a start in the May 20 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
After trainer Gustavo Delgado and his son and assistant Gustavo Delgado Jr. were satisfied with how Mage galloped and cooled out at Churchill Downs, they had their two partners on hand to share the news with media members.
“We’re thrilled to announce that Mage is headed to the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes,” said Chase Chamberlin, the Cincinnati-based co-founder and director of racing for the CMNWLTH micro-shares partnership that owns 25 percent of the Kentucky Derby winner.
“We’re very excited. He’s had a magnificent week of training,” said Ramiro Restrepo, who also owns 25 percent and put the ownership group together after he and Delgado Jr. purchased Mage at Fasig-Tipton’s Timonium 2-year-old sale just days following last year’s Preakness. “Gustavo is really pleased and over the moon with how he’s come back. He’s shown all the positive signs, so it’s on to Baltimore — and crab cakes here we come.”
Restrepo said exercise rider J. J. Delgado, who is no relation though from the same Venezuelan town as the father-son training team, was extremely pleased with how Mage has come out of his Derby score.
“He said he hasn’t lost any luster from his pre-Kentucky Derby training. He feels a lot of horse under him. The horse is just thriving right now. J. J. – who we trust so much because he’s the F1 practice driver; he’s in the cockpit – feels the horse is just full of himself. He hasn’t missed any meals. He hasn’t missed any shredded carrots or mints. Everything you could ask for he’s given us all the green lights.”
Mage is scheduled to train again early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs before vanning that afternoon to Baltimore with his stablemates, the filly Isabel Alexandra, who is scheduled to run in a Pimlico allowance race Sunday, and O Captain, who ran fifth in an allowance race Thursday evening at Churchill Downs. Restrepo said the horses should arrive early Sunday morning at Old Hilltop, with Mage likely to train Monday.
“You’re curious and cautious until you see how they come out of it,” Restrepo said of waiting to make a final pronouncement on Mage’s status for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. “That’s why you don’t want to jump to conclusions. You have to let Mage talk. Unfortunately, he speaks horse and not English. So, it’s up to us to be his stewards, and you leave it up to the horsemanship of Gustavo Sr. and Jr. and J.J., who rides him; and (groom) Moises Morales, who is with him; Candido Salcedo, who cares for him; and lean on them. They are the ones who are fluent in the Thoroughbred. We don’t take that lightly. It’s super important that Mage is the one who gives us the indication that he wants to go run.
“We’ve been just monitoring that situation with all the love that he’s shown us on the racetrack,” he added. “We’re trying to bestow that upon him and give him the time to show us what’s up. Everything he did prior to the Derby has continued all the way through. That type of consistency merits a shot at the Preakness.”
Restrepo said that the owners do feel a responsibility as the Derby winners “to be stewards of horse racing and to open ourselves up for questions and comments about our horse and his performance.
“But we owe the horse himself before anything else,” the Miami and Lexington-based bloodstock agent said. “The horse comes first. While our selfish dreams might be Preakness and all these things, he’s the one doing the running. We’re not. There’s a ton of tradition, and we respect the game so much, but you always have to take this day by day. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s reality. If he wouldn’t have been up to par, then what are we doing? Sacrificing a potential positive, top-of-the-line effort just for the sake of us having fun in Baltimore? But that’s not the case…. It’s been green light from all the eyes and ears in the barn, and Mage is showing it, so we’re over the moon.”
The rest of Mage’s ownership group is composed of the Delgados’ OGMA Investments LLC and Sam Herzberg’s Sterling Racing, each with 25 percent.
Mage joined 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify as the only unraced 2-year-olds to win the Derby since Apollo in 1882. He also joined Justify and 2008 Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown as the only horses to capture the Derby off only three lifetime starts since the filly Regret in 1915.
“Just because of the fact that he has only four starts, and usually (horses) tend to get better with races, especially after the third, fourth, I think he has good momentum,” Delgado Jr. said. “That gives us confidence. But every day is crucial.”
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