What to Watch for in the 2023 Preakness Stakes-News

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.

Mage’s trainer, Gustavo Delgado Sr., won the Venezuelan Triple Crown twice before coming to the United States in 2014 to pursue a career in America’s biggest championships.

“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: “He grew up in a generation where everyone talked about it, and he always thought he could do it.” “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 the 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.

And so the team’s melting pot rode Mage straight into the winner’s circle on the first Saturday in May, leading to the biggest winners’ party in Derby history – even if Mage looked a little short in the middle.

About 80 of the 382 people who invested in Mage through Commonwealth were present. One of them was Norma Barnes-Euresti from Michigan. When his wheelchair got stuck on the track, Gerardo Corrales and Jose Ortiz, who had just ridden in the Derby, carried him the rest of the way.

“I don’t have legs today, but I’ve been walking all my life,” he said on NBC, talking about the kindness of jockeys and, Triple Crown contender Mage.

After seven horses died at Churchill Downs ahead of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes officials are taking a cautious approach. First Mission, the 5-2 second choice in the morning lineup, was forced out of the race early Friday morning with an undisclosed injury to his left leg.

The colt is trained by Brad Cox and is owned by the Godolphin stable, which is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. First Mission was coming off an impressive victory in the Lexington Stakes last month at Keeneland, but his trainer noticed something was amiss when he finished training on Wednesday, and on Friday, the veterinary team at the 1/ST race, owned by Pimlico Race Course, yelled . a horse.

Michael Banahan, Godolphin USA’s director of bloodstock, said First Mission will be returned to Lexington, Ky., for full testing.

“They thought it might have been a little problem with the left knee — you couldn’t tell how to diagnose the disease in that area,” Banahan said. “He was doing well at Pimlico. But that’s the way it is.”

More scrutiny is being extended to every horse competing here at the end of the week. Officials need two veterinary licenses before a horse is allowed to race – one from the trainer’s vet, the other from the state vet in the state where the horse was stabled before coming to Baltimore.

The start of the First Service makes this the first time since 1986 that the Preakness has only seven horses, making an already weak field even weaker. The second leg of the Triple Crown has not included a single Derby opponent since 1948, when Citation raced to victory. He then won the Belmont Stakes and swept the Triple Crown.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is returning to the Triple Crown stage behind his son Medina Spirit. failed drug test after winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Spirit of Medina was allowed to run in the Preakness but finished a well-beaten third.

Baffert overturned a suspension handed down by Kentucky officials and a two-year ban from the Derby and Churchill Downs. Last year, Baffert was serving his suspension in Kentucky for the Triple Crown, so racing committees in Maryland and New York disqualified him from the Preakness and Belmont.

Now he returns with National Treasure, a fourth-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby, for his eighth Preakness victory. He is currently associated with the 19th century teacher R. Wyndham Walden.

Baffert’s first three Derby-Preakness winners — Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) — were unable to complete a Triple Crown sweep at Belmont Park. But the last two, American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018, did the job.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will be aboard National Treasure, who was 3-1 in the morning line. The colt has only won once but has competed in major championships in California and Kentucky. He was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to Forte.

“I think he fits in here,” Baffert told reporters this week. “He needs to improve. He’s a horse that hasn’t filled out his frame yet, but we’ve always been above him. He hasn’t run a bad race.”

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