Friday, November 10, 2023
HALLANDALE BEACH - Kentucky Derby winner Mage, withdrawn from last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Classic with a fever, is being pointed to a 2024 campaign that could launch in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Pegasus for 4-year-olds and up headlines a spectacular Jan. 27 program featuring seven graded stakes worth $5.2 million in purses including the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational.
Co-owner Remiro Restrepo said that Mage is among a ‘big majority’ of the stable’s horses that remain at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky. before shipping to their winter home at Gulfstream, where Mage broke his maiden in his debut on Jan. 28 before running fourth in the Fountain of Youth and second in the Curlin Florida Derby on April 1.
“The winter home for us is Gulfstream Park, for the entire barn. The horses are there all winter through the end of March, and then the ones that go to Keeneland for any races ship up immediately. The [others] transition to The Thoroughbred Center between the first and the 30th of April [when] the rest of them ship over,” Restrepo said. “Everybody’s trying to ship down [to Florida]. We’ve still got a few more horses to ship down from Kentucky, but we do have a big majority of the horses still up there.”
Following the Kentucky Derby, Mage finished third in the Preakness and second in the Haskell before running seventh in the Travers on Aug. 26 at Saratoga, his most recent start. He breezed four times at The Thoroughbred Center in October and was pre-entered in the Classic but had his name removed after missing a planned work Oct. 29, the day before he was scheduled to fly to Santa Anita Park for the Breeders’ Cup.
“He was doing perfect before the Classic. If you were to have asked me 24 hours before he jumped on the plane, I would have said, ‘We couldn’t be happier. He’s doing as good as he was before the Derby, we’re ready to rock,’” Restrepo said. “And then, 24 hours later, you have to say, ‘Holy smokes. He missed two meals and caught a slight temp.’ How could we jump on the plane? The most incredible thing is, we make plans, and the horses decide whether to execute them or not.
“It’s one of those things. It sums up horse racing, right? A lot of things happen outside of your control. They’re animals so you have to be their stewards,” he added. “Unfortunately, we were forced to miss the race and now we’re just kind of taking a step back and looking at our options. We’re looking at the racing calendar for 2024 and figuring out what the best course of action is.”
The Pegasus has showcased some of racing’s top older horses to either cap an outstanding career or use as a springboard to later glory. Inaugural 2017 winner Arrogate beat two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, making his final start, raced four more times was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2023. Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year, won the 2018 Pegasus in his finale, as did four-time Gr. 1 winner City of Light in 2019.
Knicks Go parlayed a 2021 Pegasus victory into Horse of the Year honors, then came back to be second in 2022 in his final race behind Life Is Good, who went on to win three more graded- including the Whitney and Woodward. Art Collector sprung a 15-1 upset in this year’s edition for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
“Obviously he’s a horse with a lot of fans and he accomplished an amazing thing [this] year. There’s a lot of people that are curious. There’s been a lot of horses retired this year, a pretty prominent number of horses, but we’re running in 2024. That’s the most important thing,” Restrepo said. “When the time comes, we’ll start hunkering down on a calendar for the year, some targets, and figure that out. Yes, the Pegasus is definitely one of the possibilities. There’s just a lot of things to consider. We’ll figure that out when we can.”
A Miami native currently attending horse sales in Kentucky, Restrepo owns Mage with Brian Doxtater and Case Chamberlin’s CMNWLTH, assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr.’s OGMA Investments, and Sam Herzberg’s Sterling Racing. Purchased for $290,000 and trained by Gustavo Delgado Sr., Mage has two wins, two seconds, one third and $2,507,450 in purse earnings from seven starts.
“There’s just so much going on. We just finished up a big sale [Tuesday] night. Now we’ve got 12 days of selling here, and there’s no race tomorrow,” Restrepo said. “So, you put that on the back burner. You say, ‘Let’s get through this season and we’ll get to that when we do.’
“He’s running [next year]. There’s no question about that,” he added. “Our goal is to have him ready for an awesome 2024; however, many races or locations or whatever it may be is what we’ve all got to decide as a team. That’s what we’re going to work on once we get a little time. [The Pegasus] is 11 weeks away, it’s not something we’ve got to focus on right now. I know that it’s in the pipeline, and we’ll just go from there.”
$100K Rainbow 6 Gross Jackpot Guarantee, New Post Time
The 20-cent Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $100,000 when racing returns to Gulfstream Park today with a nine-race program and a new post time of 12:10 p.m. The multi-race wager has gone unsolved for seven programs following a mandatory payout on Oct. 21.
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