Good Magic puts himself in Derby picture with Juvenile win

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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.

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“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.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.