Mage will bypass Belmont

Quotes and information from a Maryland Jockey Club release

On the day after the Preakness, runners’ connections were pondering what would be next for the seven Middle Jewel contestants. For some, “on to the Belmont was the theme,” while for others, heading home was on the agenda.

Topping the latter list was Kentucky Derby winner Mage. He ran a hard-trying third in the Preakness, 2 ¼ lengths behind winner National Treasure. But his connections said the Belmont would not be in the Good Magic colt’s future.

Instead, the colt, owned by OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH, will soon head to The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky.

“He was there from May of last year to October,” Restrepo said after checking on Mage at the Pimlico Stakes Barn Sunday morning. “We will get him turned out and do some training. Everything is great. The colt is fantastic, bright-eyed and his head is up. We could not be any happier with him after trying as hard as did in the Preakness. The kid is an iron horse.”

The next goal for Mage, who won the Kentucky Derby (G1) in his fourth career start, will be the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 26.

“We will give him a little vacation and he will power up and we will figure out the best way to get to the Travers,” Restrepo said. “He has not missed a day and has been on the engine since January.”

Preakness winner National Treasure, away alertly to the lead on Saturday, was able to slow the pace down with John Velazquez in the irons. That put runners like Mage behind the eight-ball, and left the winner plenty in the tank when confronted by Blazing Sevens in the lane.


In fact, trainer Bob Baffert said National Treasure still had plenty in the tank.

“They went so slow early, he had so much horse that he couldn’t pull him up at the end, he told me,” Baffert said.

The two sophomore colts Baffert sent to Baltimore both won, with National Treasure’s stablemate Arabian Lion dominating the Sir Barton. Baffert said National Treasure is the more likely of the pair to contest the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes, but he said both could ship to New York from Baltimore on Tuesday.

National Treasure (#1) held off Blazing Sevens. Photo by Allison Janezic.

In addition to the Belmont Stakes itself, Belmont Park also hosts another Grade 1 on dirt for three-year-olds that weekend. That race is the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes.

Trainer Steve Asmussen indicated that Red Route One, fourth in the Preakness, would likely target the Belmont for his next start. Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Red Route One had punched his Preakness ticket with a rallying score in the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

In the Preakness, however, his late kick was blunted by the sluggish early pace. Red Route One ran evenly around the track and was beaten by just less than five lengths.

“He’s kept very good company his whole career and was probably beaten [4 ¾] lengths in the Preakness in a race I don’t think set up ideally for him,” Asmussen said. “Does he beat them under different circumstances? Who knows? But I do like the opportunity to run him a mile and a half.”

Trainer Chad Brown has not yet said where Rodeo Creek Racing’s Blazing Sevens will run next. After skipping the Kentucky Derby, he ran a big race to be second by just a head in Saturday’s Preakness.

“We thought he ran exceptionally well,” Rodeo Creek’s John Capek said “It’s tough to be a little bit short on the winning side of things, but we are pleased with his progress.”

Brown has won the Preakness twice, both times with horses that did not run in the Kentucky Derby.

The fifth- through seventh-place finishers – Chase the Chaos, Perform, and local hopeful Coffeewithchris – were the three longest shots on the board. All were beaten by a dozen or more lengths.