Early look at possible Preakness starters

Edited Maryland Jockey Club press release

As long as everything continues to go well, OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH’s Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage will make his next start in the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

“He’s awesome. He’s really happy and alert and looks good, and he’s feeling good in the stall,” Restrepo said Sunday morning from Churchill Downs. “If all remains as is, we’re going to Preakness.”

Trainer Gustavo Delgado, nicknamed Puma because of his thick mane of silver hair, said that Mage came out of his stretch-running length victory over Two Phil’s in “very good” condition.

With a crowd of media and racing enthusiasts looking on, Delgado took the traditional call from Maryland Jockey Club interim president Mike Rogers officially inviting Mage to the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“I know my dad. He doesn’t need much,” assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. said. “If it’s up to what we see now, it’s a high percentage that we’ll go to the Preakness.”

Restrepo, the Florida-based bloodstock agent and representative for the Fasig-Tipton sales company, called the Preakness “the logical move.”


“Obviously it’s a dream in the background,” Restrepo said. “But in the end, Mage has to want the Triple Crown. If he comes out of the race as he appears to us here, then I know ‘Puma’ is going to want to go to the Preakness, and all the partners are going to want to go, too, but it’s never going to be at the expense of the horse. If my guy is feeling the way he’s feeling [now], then on to Baltimore and crab cakes we go.”

The elder Delgado said Mage will likely get two days off before returning to the track Tuesday. The colt will remain at Churchill Downs, with the Delgados having a couple of other horses to run at the Louisville track.

Mage won the Kentucky Derby. Photo by Coady Photography.

 Restrepo and the Delgados purchased Mage for $290,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium a couple of days after last year’s Preakness. Because they went over budget, urged on by the elder Delgado to keep bidding, Restrepo subsequently put together a partnership, adding Sam Herzberg’s Sterling Racing and Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin’s CMNWLTH micro-shares syndicate.

“This is a game you lose way more than you win. It’s a labor of love,” Restrepo said. “You’re just dream chasing, and it’s come through for all of us. This boy changed our lives overnight.”

Mage, 16th of 18 after a half-mile and more than 13 lengths behind in the Derby, rallied to run down Two Phil’s, who ran an admirable race, en route to a one-length victory in 2:01.57 for 1 ¼ miles. It was Mage’s second win from four starts.

In the Preakness, Mage very likely will get a rematch with Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner who was scratched the morning of the Derby with a foot bruise. Forte won Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) in his only two starts this year, races in which Mage came in fourth and second, respectively.

Trainer Todd Pletcher termed Forte’s foot as “good” Sunday morning and said the champion should have a timed workout in the next few days. Both Forte and Pletcher will stay in Kentucky for the near future, with Pletcher having a division at Churchill Downs. Forte, who galloped Saturday morning before being withdrawn from the Derby, did not train Sunday but will go back to the track Monday, Pletcher said.

Pletcher said Forte deserves the opportunity to try to win a Triple Crown race. However, if Forte doesn’t make the Preakness, he said the colt likely will be pointed for the Travers (G1) in August at Saratoga rather than the Triple Crown finale.

“If he runs in the Preakness, then he’d probably not run in the Belmont,” he said. “We’d probably focus on the Travers after that, have a race before in the Jim Dandy or Haskell.”

News of other possible Preakness starters:

  • Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Disarm and Red Route One, winner of Oaklawn’s Bath House Row Stakes, are both under consideration for the Preakness, trainer Steve Asmussen said.
  • Derby runner-up Two Phil’s is also possible for the Preakness, according to trainer Larry Rivelli. Two Phil’s was the only runner up close to the pace in the Derby early who remained among the top runners at the end.
  • The Brad Cox-trained First Mission is considered definite for the Preakness if all goes to plan, while his four Derby starters have not been ruled out but are considered unlikely. Another of his, Lecomte winner Instant Coffee, who did not compete in the Derby, is also under consideration for the Preakness.
  • Confidence Game, 10th in the Kentucky Derby, is under consideration for the Preakness, trainer Keith Desormeaux said.
  • Several horses who bypassed or did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby also are under consideration for the Middle Jewel. These include Bob Baffert trainee National Treasure; Champagne Stakes winner Blazing Sevens for trainer Chad Brown; and likely longshots Henry Q, Il Miracolo, and Chase the Chaos.