Preakness148: Mage Aglow, Challengers Ready

May 18, 2023

Mage aglow on the Pimlico track Wednesday morning (Jim McCue/MJC)

Mage Caught ‘Showing Off’ Following Morning Gallop

Cox: First Mission ‘Had a Great Morning’

Baffert Trying Different Formula for Success in Preakness  

Blazing Sevens Putting Smiles on Connections’ Faces

Winchell Taking ‘Route’ to Triple Crown Success

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

BALTIMORE— OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH’s Mage continued to give off positive vibes to his connections during a 1 ½-mile gallop Wednesday morning at historic Pimlico Race Course in preparation for Saturday’s $1.65 million Preakness Stakes (G1).

“It was the same routine since we got here. He looked better, had more energy,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., trainer Gustavo Delgado’s son and assistant. “He wanted to do more. His exercise rider J.J. Delgado said he’s doing good.”

The Kentucky Derby (G1) winner reared up as he was leaving the racetrack as though he indeed wanted to do more.

“He was showing off. He was showing off a little bit,” Delgado Jr. said. “He was just feeling good.”

The son of Good Magic appears to have bounced back nicely from his rallying one-length victory in the May 6 Derby, in which he made only his fourth career start. His victory caused widespread celebrations in Venezuela, where his trainer achieved legend status and his jockey, Javier Castellano, began his Hall of Fame career before immigrating to the U.S. 

Delgado Jr. is proud that Mage’s connections have been able to show their fellow Venezuelans and others that achieving success is not just a dream.

“It means a lot. I think it’s a good message for our community that anyone can do it if they have the will to succeed. It’s not a matter of where you come from. It’s if you want to do it,” Delgado Jr. said.

Mage is the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, in which he is scheduled to face seven rivals, none of which ran in the Kentucky Derby.

Cox: First Mission ‘Had a Great Morning’

Trainer Brad Cox said Wednesday that Godolphin’s First Mission is doing very well at Pimlico Race Course in the days leading up to Saturday’s 148th Preakness Stakes (G1). 

The Lexington (G3) winner went to the track for some routine exercise.  

“We had a great morning,” Cox said. “He galloped a little further today than yesterday but was every bit as good as yesterday.”

First Mission drew the outside post in the field of eight for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown and is 5-2 on the morning line. Cox said with a long run to the first turn, draw positions are overrated.

Luis Saez rode the colt in the Lexington and has the Preakness mount, his fourth start in the race. His best finish was in 2018 when he and Bravazo were second to Justify.

First Mission will be Godolphin’s first Preakness starter since Worldly Manner was 12th in 1999.

Baffert Trying Different Formula for Success in Preakness      

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will try to use a different formula for success Saturday as he seeks his record-breaking eighth victory in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course with National Treasure

Each of Baffert’s seven Preakness winners had previously competed in the Kentucky Derby (G1). National Treasure, a son of Quality Road, finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and did not go on to the Kentucky Derby. He drew the rail in the eight-horse 148th Preakness and will wear blinkers for the third time in what will be his sixth career start.

Baffert is tied for the lead in victories with 19th century trainer R. Wyndham Walden.

Five of Baffert’s seven Preakness winners came to Baltimore off victories in the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. Two others, both Derby favorites, Point Given in 2001 and Lookin At Lucky (2010), prevailed at Pimlico after failing to finish in the top three in the Derby.  Baffert’s first three Derby-Preakness winners, Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) were unable to complete the Triple Crown sweep at Belmont Park. The last two with the Derby-Preakness double, American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018, swept the Triple Crown.

Baffert’s assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said that National Treasure, co-owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madakat Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan, had a routine gallop at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Blazing Sevens Putting Smiles Connections’ Faces

Jose Hernandez, the assistant trainer to Chad Brown, has been smiling all week around the Pimlico Stakes Barn. That’s because he continues to be impressed with how John and Carla Capek’s Rodeo Creek Racing LLC’s Blazing Sevens has taken to Old Hilltop as he prepares to run in the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday.

“I think he is sitting on a big race,” Hernandez said Wednesday morning after the son of Good Magic galloped about 1 ¼ miles for the second consecutive day with exercise rider Peter Levia.

The only difference in the routine was that Blazing Sevens went out at 6:30 a.m., a half hour earlier than the last two days.

Blazing Sevens, winner of the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park as a 2-year-old, finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland. In two starts this year, he ran a disappointing eighth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park and an improved third in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland in his last start April 8.

Hernandez also took care of Brown’s two Preakness winners – Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting last year – before the boss showed up in Baltimore to saddle the horses.

“I’ve got the same feeling with this one that I did with the others,” Hernandez said. “This is a pretty nice horse to work with.”

Blazing Sevens will return to the track at 6:30 Thursday morning and will also school in the paddock between races. Brown is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore Friday night.

Winchell Taking ‘Route’ to Triple Crown Success

Red Route One follows the roadmap for Winchell Thoroughbreds’ rise to the top echelon of racing by both breeding and buying outstanding horses. Now the ownership team is hoping the chestnut colt can show the path to the family’s first victory in the Triple Crown series with Saturday’s 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

The late-running Red Route One, whose name is derived from the Tom Clancy book The Hunt for Red October, is rated fifth at 10-1 on the morning line. Joel Rosario has the mount as he seeks his first Preakness victory after four seconds.

The Steve Asmussen-trained Red Route One is a son of Gun Runner, in whom the Las Vegas-based entrepreneur Ron Winchell’s Winchell Thoroughbreds purchased half-interest from Three Chimneys farm as a 2-year-old before the horse ever ran. Gun Runner went on to be the 2017 Horse of the Year and in his first crop as a Three Chimneys stallion sired Winchell’s unbeaten 2-year-old filly champion Echo Zulu, last year’s Preakness winner Early Voting and four other Grade 1 winners.

Red Route One also hails from one of racing’s great female families that started when Winchell’s late father, Verne, claimed Carols Christmas for $25,000 in 1981. Carols Christmas, Red Route One’s fourth dam, had the downside of being swaybacked but she possessed the speed Verne Winchell coveted. Other horses whose bloodlines trace to Carols Christmas include Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Untapable and Grade 1 winners Tapizar, Pyro, Paddy O’Prado, Olympio and Cuvee and as well as multiple graded-stakes winners such as Tapiture, Finite and Bien Nicole.

Red Route One’s mom, Red House, did not race. But she is a full sister to Untapable. Red Route One is her second foal to race. The first was the stakes-winning Red Run, who on May 9, 2021 became Gun Runner’s first offspring to win a race.

“Red House was an unknown quantity,” said David Fiske, the long-time racing and bloodstock manager for both Verne and Ron Winchell. “I think we had like four full sisters to Untapable. So it was kind of like, ‘I hope one of them works out.’ Red Run was pretty decent. So when Red Route One was a 2-year-old and training, we thought, ‘Oh, boy. This could be the one.’

“The expectations got a little higher once some of the Gun Runners in the first crop ran,” he added.

With seconds in both Oaklawn’s Southwest (G3) and Rebel (G2) Stakes, Red Route One seemed headed to the Kentucky Derby (G1) before those plans were derailed with his sixth place in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Rerouted to Oaklawn’s Bath House Row Stakes, the colt’s victory there earned him a fees-paid spot in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

Red Route One arrived Tuesday afternoon and has settled into the Pimlico Stakes Barn.

“He settled in nice, jogged a mile this morning on the track, and seemed to do everything right,” said Asmussen’s assistant, Darren Fleming. “Relaxing now.”

Fleming said the plan is for Red Route One to school in the paddock Thursday during the third race.

Eventful Morning for Perform Wednesday at Pimlico

There were some anxious moments for Preakness Stakes (G1) entrant Perform is his first visit to the track at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday morning.

Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Perform and exercise rider Noemi Pauquet were scheduled to gallop a mile just after the break. 

With Perform standing just after entering the track, a loose non-Preakness horse running at full speed the wrong way came his way.

“It didn’t really bother him, but he got buzzed pretty good,” said Anthony Hamilton, McGaughey’s assistant who witnessed the incident. “It was right as we got on the track. Obviously, it’s not what you want, but Noemi did a great job. The horse was as professional as a horse could be in that situation. He is a feel-good horse and that woke him up a little bit. Then he went out and galloped a mile just like we wanted him to.”

Perform vanned to Pimlico from McGaughey’s base at Belmont Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Owned by Woodford Racing LLC, Lanes End Farm, Phipps Stable, Ken Langone and Edward J. Hudson Jr., Perform has won two of three starts this year, including the Federico Tesio at Laurel on April 15 in his last start.

The Tesio is a Preakness win-and-in event. The son of Good Magic was supplemented to the Preakness for a fee of $150,000.

McGaughey was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico sometime Wednesday afternoon. Hamilton said Perform would school in the paddock on Wednesday. He said the plans for Perform for Thursday would not be finalized until McGaughey got to town.

Chase the Chaos Trainer: ‘We’ll Have a Chance’

Bill Dory and Adam Ference’s Chase the Chaos made his transcontinental trip from North California Tuesday and trainer Ed Moger Jr. said the son of Astern was scheduled for an easy day at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday.

Chase the Chaos completed his trek from Golden Gate Fields close to midnight Tuesday.

“He traveled about 16 hours, but it looks like he handled it good,” Moger said. “He cleaned up his food and he was pretty happy this morning,”

Chase the Chaos earned his fees-paid berth in the Preakness with a victory in the win-and-in El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 11 at Golden Gate, where the Moger stable is based.

Though the gelding disappointed in his next two starts, Moger said he is training well, and his connections decided to bring him to Baltimore. 

“It’s just the opportunity,” Moger said. “We’ve never run a horse in a Triple Crown race, myself or my owners. We’re excited to run. We’re a longshot, but he’s a good horse. We’ll have a chance.”

Maryland-based jockey Sheldon Russell will ride Chase the Chaos, who is 50-1 on the morning line, from Post 2.

Maryland Hopeful Coffeewithchris Checks in at Pimlico

John Salzman Sr.’s Coffeewithchris vanned from his home at Laurel Park to Pimlico Race Course Wednesday to complete preparations for a start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1).

“He’s settled in. He’s doing fine,” trainer John Salzman Jr. said. “He’s doing good.”

Coffeewithchris, a multiple stakes-winning son of Ride On Curlin, will be ridden by Maryland-based Jaime Rodriguez.

“He’s training perfectly. He’s done everything I’ve asked of him,” Salzman said. “he’s galloping, playing and kicking, so at this point he’s doing as good as he can do. If he goes forward a little bit I’m looking forward to him running a big race.”

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