Back to work, Derby contender Gray Magician may try turf

June 24, 2019 10:31am

The 3-year-old Gray Magician has run in graded stakes domestically, tried group stakes company in the UAE Derby (G2) and last out raced in the Kentucky Derby.

“As accomplished as he is,” said Aron Wellman, whose Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners co-owns the son of Graydar, “he’s still eligible for a first level allowance race.

“We still have that option to get him back in the swing of things and hopefully build some confidence with a win. But everything’s on the table at this time.”

After a month of freshening up at WinStar Farm after a 19th-place Derby finish, Gray Magician returned to the work tab last week at Churchill Downs with two timed breezes, first at an easy three furlongs and later at a half mile.

Trainer Peter Miller continues to maintain a Kentucky string away from his California base.

“It made sense for us to keep him there as he gets legged back up,” said Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

Gray Magician had only twice finished outside of the trifecta in eight starts heading into the Kentucky Derby. He punched his ticket to Churchill Downs by running second to Plus Que Parfait on Dubai World Cup night, an effort that followed a minor stakes runner-up finish at Laurel Park.

After the Derby, Miller reported that his horse bled when finishing 26 1/4 lengths back of Maximum Security at the wire.

“We’re hoping it was an anomaly,” Wellman said. “He took so much slop in his face in the Derby — he was so far back — that we’re hoping that, combined with the stress of all of it, is what caused him to bleed.”

Wellman said connections — Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable also campaign the colt — don’t consider Gray Magician to be a “quote unquote bleeder” from one instance of it. But they will consider that in California, officials halved the allowable dose of Lasix earlier this season.

“It’s not a huge concern,” Wellman said, “but it’s something we need to keep in mind as we plot out his summer campaign.”

As for where he could pop up in the entries, Gray Magician is out of a Johannesburg mare, Burg Berg, who’s a stakes winner on grass. Turf could also be next for her son.

“It’s something that we’ve thought about, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pete test him on the grass in the next couple of weeks in his breezes,” Wellman said.

Overall, Gray Magician is 1-3-2 in nine starts with earnings of $584,140. His lone victory — and a breakout one at that — came by 9 1 /2 lengths on Nov. 24 in maiden special weight company that had his new partners ready to spot the colt ambitiously into his 3-year-old season.

 

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