Del Mar, Calif. (AP) Two-year-old colt Good Magic introduced himself as a Kentucky Derby contender Saturday by making the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile the first victory of his career.
“Yahoo,” said breeder Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farms when asked about becoming part of the Kentucky Derby picture.
Overlooked at odds of 11-1 in a field of 12 in the race that in recent years crowned the 2-year-old champion and stamp the early Kentucky Derby favorite, Good Magic did nothing to surprise his trainer, Chad Brown.
“I thought he was a winner every step of the way,” said Brown. “We took a shot because he was a maiden, but he’s developing rapidly.”
With a pair of second-place finishes to his credit – the last in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park last month, Good Magic rolled by Solomini entering the stretch and ran off to a 4 1/4-length victory over 11 rivals, with 3-5 favorite Bolt d’Oro finishing third after a troubled trip.
“I think Chad did a remarkable job with this horse, getting him here with great confidence. He did have to talk us a little bit into it because the horse obviously because the horse came in second in his last start. He said, “I think he’s really going to improve. He’s really going to like going a distance.”
Grabbing the top spot among 2-year-olds has not been proven a particularly persuasive achievement when it comes to the resume of a Kentucky Derby winner.
Since the Breeders’ Cup began in 1984, only two of the 33 winners of the Juvenile have gone on to win the Derby – Street Sense in 2006 and Nyquist in 2016.
Only two other Juvenile winners have finished in the money in the Derby – Chief’s Crown (3rd) in 1985, andTimber Country (3rd) in 1995, with 16 previous winners failing to make it into the Derby field.
Prior to Street Sense winning in 2006, the previous champion 2-year-old colt to go on win the Kentucky Derby was Spectacular Bid in 1979.
Nonetheless, “It sure is a thrill to have a really good 2-year-old in the barn,” said Brown. “They’re so hard to find.”
One of three maidens in the race, Good Magic ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.34 and paid $25, $9.40 and $5.60. The 2-year-old son of former Breeders Cup Classic winner Curlin gave trainer Chad Brown his second victory of these championships.
The race’s 3-to-5 favorite Bolt d’Oro, named for the champion sprinter, Usain Bolt, entered the race a perfect 3-for-3, but was forced extremely wide on the first turn, and while he did move up on the outside on the far turn, his finish was too little too late.
“We were a little wide but it’s horse racing and it is part of what is going to happen,” said Bolt d’Oro’s jockey, Corey Nakatani. “I was trying to get tucked in but with all the traffic, he seemed to be spinning his wheels a little bit.”
Also part of the Kentucky Derby picture was the second-place finisher Solomini, who held off Bolt d’Oro through the stretch.
“He’s improving all the time,” said jockey Flavien Prat of Solomini. “I rode him the whole way and he ran a good race. He’s going to improve race after race.”
And there will be plenty of them between Saturday’s Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.