Preakness: Good Magic “ready” to turn tables
Good Magic. Photo by Dottie Miller.
by Frank Vespe
A year ago, Chad Brown’s assistant trainer Jose “Baldo” Hernandez came to Pimlico with a lightly raced — and lightly regarded — Preakness contender named Cloud Computing, who promptly stole the show.
Hernandez is back this year, though with a somewhat more high-profile runner in the form of the Kentucky Derby runner-up, Good Magic, who was named Eclipse champion two-year-old of 2017.
“I’m really excited,” Hernandez said Tuesday morning after watching Good Magic gallop a bit more than 1 1/4 miles. “We come in ready to go, and I think we’ve got a good shot this time.”
Good Magic broke his maiden in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last fall and earned his second career win in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April to secure his berth in the Derby.
Beneath the Twin Spires, Good Magic ran gamely to secure second place but, after taking aim at the quarter pole, could make no dent in Justify’s advantage. He ended up 2 1/2 lengths behind Justify while just holding off the late rally of Audible to keep the place.
All of which is to say that Good Magic, a million-dollar son of Curlin, will need to step forward to overtake his Derby-winning rival, or catch some racing luck. Or both.
“I think he has moved forward now,” Hernandez said. “The way he was galloping today, he looks really good to me, really smooth to gallop. He galloped good.”
Good Magic has had Jose Ortiz aboard in each of his last five starts.
Good Magic hit the track for his gallop Tuesday morning just after the renovation break. He was the third of the three Preakness horses on the grounds to take the Pimlico tour this morning, following the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Bravazo and Sporting Chance.
It was the first day that Preakness contenders had visited Pimlico’s racing strip and marked, to some extent, the onset of Preakness season. A small smattering of media and horsemen were on hand, but the true frenzy won’t begin until the Derby winner, Justify, arrives Wednesday afternoon.
The Lukas horses both are likely to be outsiders, at least in wagering terms, come Preakness day. Bravazo was sixth in the Kentucky Derby, nearly a half-dozen lengths behind Good Magic, and even at that, he outran his 66-1 post time odds. Sporting Chance was fourth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard after a troubled trip.
On the other hand, Good Magic, a flashy chestnut, is likely to be second choice in the wagering, albeit a distance second choice as Justify will likely be odds-on come post time.
Still, races aren’t run at the betting windows. Sometimes lightly raced runners jump up to surprise; sometimes, defeated horses turn the tables on their rivals.
And Hernandez thinks his charge might be in position to just that.
“I see him this morning, gallop well, he’s happy,” the assistant trainer said. “In the stall, he’s happy. I think we’re ready; see what happens.”