Kentucky Derby winner Mage is on track to run in the Preakness, pursue Triple Crown

Grace Hollars/IndyStar/USA TODAY NETWORK

Kentucky Derby winner Mage remains on track to run in the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore to continue a pursuit of horse racing’s first Triple Crown since Justify in 2018.

Ramiro Restrepo, part of the ownership group, said those in charge of deciding Mage’s next race wanted to see one final workout before making that determination.

“Everything is just patience and temperance on our end,” Restrepo said on a conference call with reporters. “The plan is that if on Friday he trains satisfactory like he’s been training all week, then we would make the announcement that we would go to the Preakness.”

Mage would be the first unquestioned Derby winner to go to the Preakness with a chance to win the Triple Crown since Justify five years ago. In 2019, Maximum Security was disqualified and Country House elevated to first with neither running in the Preakness; in 2020, the Belmont Stakes was run first because of the pandemic; in 2021, Medina Spirit failed a drug test after winning the Derby and was eventually DQed; and in 2022, the owner and trainer of long shot Rich Strike decided to skip the race.

While the two weeks between the Derby and Preakness make for an unusually tight turnaround for top thoroughbreds in North America, Restrepo downplayed that concern, citing trainer Gustavo Delgado’s experience.

“He’s won two (Venezuelan) Triple Crowns with similar timeframes, so as far as being prepared and being able to know all the things that Mage needs to check off the list to be able to participate his best for the Preakness, we have that in play and we’re quite comfortable with it,” Restrepo said.

Logistical preparations are already underway to get Mage from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, to Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore.

Restrepo said he and the other owners will make the best decision for the lightly raced colt who has so far made only four career starts.

“Every decision that is made on our end, Mage makes that decision for us,” he said. “All indications are that Mage is feeling good, doing well on the racetrack.”

Mage won the Derby at odds of 15-1 after a tumultuous 10-day stretch at Churchill Downs during which seven horses died and five were scratched from the $3 million race, leaving a field of 18 to run instead of the usual 20.

Forte, the morning line favorite, was scratched hours before by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission veterinarians who had concerns about a bruised right front foot. Barring an unexpected change by Maryland officials, Forte won’t be able to run in the Preakness after Kentucky racing officials put him on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list earlier this week.

Fourth-place Derby finisher Disarm is expected to join Mage in the Preakness field.

“Very pleased with how he’s come out of the race,” said trainer Steve Asmussen, who is also planning to saddle Red Route One in the Preakness. “(Disarm has) been back to the track a couple of days now. Will not need much at all from him from a training standpoint. Just want him to continue to be loose and comfortable.”

Brad Cox, who had four horses in the Derby, will not bring any of them back for the Preakness but instead intends to challenge Mage this time with First Mission. Shug McGaughey has his first Preakness horse in a decade in Perform, and Chad Brown is planning to enter Blazing Sevens in the race.

It was not clear if Bob Baffert, who was not allowed to train horses for the Derby in 2022 or ‘23 because of Medina Spirit’s failed drug test but is now cleared to do so in the Preakness, will decide to go for a record-breaking eight victory in the race with National Treasure.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

1 Comment

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

churchill downs

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.