Inside death and scars surrounded the Kentucky Derby this year, the exciting stories of the successful Mage were covered. But there’s plenty to like about the fast-growing colt as he enters the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
He was only the third horse to win the Derby without running as a 2-year-old and the fourth to win the Derby by just three runs. Another horse that did it all? Justify, the most recent Triple Crown winner, in 2018.
Mage’s only two losses have come against Forte, the favorite on the Derby morning line played on race day. Mage is now the only Derby contender in the Preakness, and his main rival, First Mission, was kicked out on Friday.
However, there was a drama when Mage had a problem in his place on Thursday and needed skirts, one of the owners, Ramiro Restrepo, said on Saturday. He said he is still ready for the competition.
Thursday, @MageHorse he hit his forehead against the cage, causing a superficial cut. He received care & treatment from the State Vet and resumed normal training with no distractions.
As with ALL Preakness starters, he was checked by the State Vets today and is ready to run.
– Ramiro A. Restrepo (@RamiroRestrepo) May 20, 2023
It was refreshing for Mage’s trainer, Gustavo Delgado Sr., who won three Venezuelan Triple Crowns before coming to the United States in 2014 to prepare to win America’s biggest races.
“I just wanted to get to the Kentucky Derby, and we did, but this horse, we knew he was really good,” said Delgado Sr., who has ridden three Derby horses.
His son, Gustavo Delgado Jr., said his father was inspired by the success of the Venezuelan connections who won the Derby and Preakness with Canonero II in 1971.
Delgado Jr., who is his father’s assistant, said: “I remember when I was a kid, because when he won in Venezuela, he always told me, ‘One day we will go to the States and win one of those races.'”
Mage’s jockey, Javier Castellano, and his rider, JJ Delgado (no relation), are also Venezuelan. Mr. Castellano and JJ Delgado used to ride in Delgado Sr. there.
Castellano said he was motivated to enter the Derby when he saw the NBC broadcast mention his 0-for-15 record in the tournament. He has enjoyed the Preakness, winning in 2006 with Bernardini and in 2017 with Cloud Computing.
Another problem the Delgado family faced when they arrived in the United States was finding good horses and owners they trusted. In Mage’s case, the Delgados partnered with bloodstock agent Ramiro Restrepo, whose family immigrated to Colombia before he was born, at Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old sales in Timonium, Md. of his sire, Good Magic, who finished second in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness.
They loved him so much that they spent 290,000 dollars. So they called a few people to help share the money, including real estate agent Sam Herzberg and entrepreneurs Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin, whose Commonwealth program allows fans to buy shares in racehorses for $50.