Good Magic Might Need to Pull Out all the Tricks to Win Derby

Kevin Stott

Sunday, April 22, 2018 2:52 AM UTC

Sunday, Apr. 22, 2018 2:52 AM UTC

Good Magic won the Blue Grass Stakes, but a lack of elite speed and a tough Kentucky Derby field might be valid reasons for not betting on him in the Run for the Roses.

Kentucky Derby Top Contenders Preview: Good Magic

Only Magnum Moon (150) earned more qualifying points for the 2018 Kentucky Derby than Blue Grass Stakes winner Good Magic (143), and when you’re the American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse of the Year and the first horse ever to break your maiden in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and win the race as Good Magic did in November, then you’re probably a real equine force to be reckoned with.

Months back it seemed Good Magic (11/1 to win Kentucky Derby, Bovada) could end up being the odds favorite in the 144th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 5 (6:30 pm ET; NBC), but a 3rd-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 3 sobered some up. Two horses not even in the Kentucky Derby finished 1st and 2nd in that race (Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power), and elite 3-year-old thoroughbreds such as Florida Derby winner Audible (5/1 to win Kentucky Derby, Bovada), UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn (4/1), Santa Anita Derby winner Justify (4/1) and runner-up Bolt d'Oro (9/1), and Arkansas Derby winner Magnum Moon (11/1) have eclipsed Good Magic as potential Kentucky Derby favorites. However, his big win in the Super Six Blue Grass Stakes Derby prep race at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky, on April 7 somewhat redeemed the Chad Brown-trained horse.

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No 3-year-old male has more non-restricted earnings than Good Magic ($1,838,400) who was sired by legendary two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and who sold for $1 million at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sales to Bob Edward's e Five Racing. Good Magic ran his first race in a maiden special weight event at Saratoga on Aug. 26, 2017, with John Velazquez in saddle and went off as the odds-on favorite but finished 2nd to Hazit. In his second race — now with 2017 Eclipse Award winner Jose Ortiz in saddle — Good Magic finished 2nd in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 7 to Derby hopeful Firenze Fire (55/1 to win Kentucky Derby, 5Dimes) before having his really big breakthrough race and win at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 4, finishing ahead of 2nd-place finisher Solomini (22/1 to win Kentucky Derby, Bovada) and 3rd-place finisher Bolt d’Oro—both headed to Louisville.

The massive win against the biggest competition at the right time helped Good Magic be named the American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse of the Year and head into 2018 with extremely high hopes being a 3-year-old many thought might be the one to beat at Churchill Downs. After that aforementioned disappointing 3rd-place finish in the 9-horse Fountain of Youth, Good Magic beat out 2nd-place finisher Flameaway (33/1 to win Kentucky Derby, Bovada) and 3rd-place finisher Free Drop Billy (35/1, 5Dimes) — who both also ended up qualifying for this year’s Kentucky Derby — in the 14-horse $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland to earn 100 of his 134 qualifying points.

At Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes, Good Magic posted a 95 Beyer Speed Figure, and with so many other horses in the field posting better numbers this calendar year such as Justify (107, 104, 101 Beyer Speed Figures), Mendelssohn (106), Bolt d'Oro (102, 101), Audible (99, 99), Magnum Moon (98, 97, 96) and Vino Rosso (98), it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Good Magic wins in this projected extremely talented 20-horse field. Too much would probably have to go wrong for too many other debatable elite-level horses in the Kentucky Derby for Good Magic to cross the finish line first and unless he and Ortiz get a dream route on the rail somehow, Good Magic may even be hard-pressed to finish in the top 10.

And watching the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass Stakes replays doesn’t exactly instill confidence in potential Good Magic backers and this properly priced horse will probably have trouble finishing in the money and may be one of those “throw-out” horses when building exotic wagers. But one solid thing Good Magic will have going for him in The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports is Ortiz, who describes the colt as “professional.” Avoiding drawing the No. 1, 2, 19 or 20 post will matter for Good Magic and Ortiz, who might not be able to catch the speedy leaders and/or the pack is he falls too far behind.

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Champion Good Magic this morning at Keeneland.

— Alicia Wincze Hughes (@BH_AHughes) April 18, 2018

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