Preakness 2023: Mage maintains routine training for Saturday

Preakness 2023: Mage maintains routine training for Saturday
Photo: Scott Serio / Eclipse Sportswire


The sun rises. The temperature gets warmer. Mage gallops 1 1/2 miles.

Some things never change.

The Kentucky Derby winner had a routine second morning at Pimlico in preparation for Preakness 2023 on Saturday. He took to the fast main track Tuesday shortly after 8:30 a.m. EDT on a calm, sunny, 66-degree morning.

“Everything is just – routine,” co-owner Ramiro Restrepo said, searching for a new word to describe Mage’s typically laid-back morning ritual. “That’s the most important thing right now, just keeping him on his routine. He’s on schedule. He’s feeling good. Couldn’t be happier.”

Except for when he was running around the old oval, it was as though Mage was chilling back home at Gulfstream Park or at his home away from home the last three weeks at Churchill Downs.

When he got out on the Pimlico track, though, he wanted to get up and go. Toward the end of his run with exercise rider J.J. Delgado, the Good Magic colt picked up speed as he passed the finish line. That, of course, is where his connections hope he will be first Saturday after racing 1 3/16 miles in the $1.65 million classic.

“That’s Gustavo (Delgado’s) training method,” Restrepo told reporters outside the Preakness barn on the western edge of the Pimlico stables. “The horse picks it up pole by pole, always with quite the strong gallop-outs. Even at Gulfstream before the Kentucky Derby, those three-quarter works were actually mile works. After the wire he’d go another quarter or three-eighths on his own, just galloping out quite strongly. He’s just sticking to the program.”

Restrepo said it would be the same routine the rest of the week in the buildup to Saturday’s second race in the 2023 Triple Crown. Mage drew post 3 at Monday’s draw and was established as the 8-5 morning-line favorite. Circa Sports in Las Vegas opened him at 9-5 on Monday evening in its fixed-odds market.

First Mission, 5-2 on the morning line and a little more than 2-1 at Circa, also galloped Tuesday, going a little more than a mile with his trainer Brad Cox watching.

“He looked great,” Cox said. “He just got here last night, so it was his first time on the track.”

For his first race since he won last month’s Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, First Mission drew widest in the eight-horse field.

“I like to think he drew well,” Cox said. “We’re going to let Luis (Sáez) put our horse where he’s comfortable, where he did last time, and we’ll see what happens.”

Cox said he expected to stretch the lightly raced Street Sense colt to 1 3/8-mile gallops by the end of the week.

National Treasure, 4-1 on the morning line and at Circa, went to the track early Tuesday with Faiza, his undefeated stablemate who is the favorite for Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2). They worked separately under the watch of assistant Jimmy Barnes, who is looking after the pair until trainer Bob Baffert arrives late Thursday. National Treasure trained without blinkers, although he will have them added Saturday.

Blazing Sevens, 6-1 in the program and more than 7-1 in Las Vegas, also galloped Tuesday. His trainer Chad Brown was not expected to arrive at Pimlico before Friday.

Chase the Chaos, Coffeewithchris, Perform and Red Route One, the other four Preakness horses, were not expected to arrive before Tuesday afternoon, with their first training runs on the main track coming Wednesday morning.

That will be when Mage makes his next trip to the track after a shed-row walk and before his daily bath. It is a routine that the colt has down pat. So much so that when he was being hosed down at the barn after his gallop, he picked up his left-rear hoof unprompted, seemingly knowing it was about to be sponged.

“He’s a really intelligent horse,” Restrepo said. “That’s his biggest attribute. He’s just programmed so well, and he’s picking it up here, so everyone’s happy.”


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