Majesto an Intriguing Derby Longshot with Some Upside


Majesto punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with a runner-up finish to Nyquist in Saturday's Florida Derby. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)

Making the Grade, which will run through the 2016 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the next Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win classic races based upon ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.

This week we take a closer look at Majesto, runner-up in the $1-million Florida Derby on April 2 at Gulfstream Park.


Bay Ridgling

Sire (Father): Tiznow

Dam (Mother): Unacloud, by Unaccounted For

Owner: Grupo 7C Racing Stable

Breeder: Diamond A Racing Corp. (Ky.)

Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Kentucky Derby Points: 40 (Ranked No. 11)


Champion Nyquist rightfully earned the headlines and the accolades after a dominant performance in the $1-million Florida Derby, in which he put away previously undefeated Mohaymen en route to a 3 ¼-length win. But the runner-up in that race, Majesto, also punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby and this under-the-radar Derby hopeful rates as an interesting contender who figures to be a very appealing price.

Ability: Grupo 7C Racing Stable purchased Majesto for $300,000 out of the first book of the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. The first book is reserved for yearlings that are both well-bred and elite physical specimens.

It took Majesto five races to earn his first win, but he showed some ability in defeat, finishing third to eventual Tampa Bay Derby winner Destin in his debut at Belmont Park and then opening a clear lead in the stretch before finishing second in his second start at Gulfstream Park. He earned a 102 Equibase Speed Figure for that race at Gulfstream, where he has made his last five starts.

After finishing in the top three in three of his first four races, Majesto finally broke through by closing from fifth and pulling clear to win a 1 1/16-mile race at Gulfstream. He earned a 102 Equibase Speed Figure for the win, equaling a career top, and the victory gave Majesto’s trainer and owner the confidence to try him in the Florida Derby.

Majesto was a length clear of third-place finisher Fellowship in finishing second in the Florida Derby in his stakes debut. There were legitimate questions about the class of the field after Nyquist and Mohaymen, so it’s fair to wonder if Majesto simply passed tiring horses and a disheartened Mohaymen, whom Nyquist had easily shook off at the top of the stretch. But the Florida Derby earned Majesto back-to-back 102 speed figures, which makes him eligible to take a step forward off of five weeks’ rest.

With six races under his belt — including five at 1 1/16 miles or longer — for a solid foundation and the look of a maturing 3-year-old starting to come into his own, Majesto warrants some consideration when evaluating Derby runners. 


Running style: Majesto does his best work from off the pace. He was able to save ground in the Florida Derby and reserve his fuel for the stretch. A similar setup in the Kentucky Derby would be ideal, but with a field of 20 saving ground and finding a clear path to the finish line is easier said than done. 

Connections: Grupo 7C Racing Stable is the racing operation of Venezuelan businessman Alejandro Ceballos, and Majesto’s name comes from a combination of the names of his sons Mauro and Jesus. Grupo 7C Racing Stable also campaigned multiple graded stakes winner Grand Tito.

Majesto’s trainer, Gustavo Delgado, is regarded as one of the greatest trainers in the history of his native Venezuela. According to Thoroughbred Daily News, Delgado has trained four Venezuelan Triple Crown winners, including 2007 Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner Taconeo. Delgado’s top runners in the U.S. include graded stakes winners Grand Tito and Grand Bili.

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Javier Castellano has ridden Majesto for his two most recent starts and also is the regular rider of Tampa Bay Derby winner Destin. Castellano earned his third straight Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2015, when his $28,120,767 in purse earnings established a new single-season benchmark for a North American jockey. Castellano’s lone victory in a Triple Crown race came with Bernardini in the 2006 Preakness Stakes. From nine Kentucky Derby starts, his best finish was fourth aboard Normandy Invasion in 2013. 

Pedigree: Majesto is by 2000 Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, who got better with age and extra distance on the racetrack and has become a tremendous source of stamina and class at stud. Some of his top runners include champions Folklore and Bear Now, 2009 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed, 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara and 2008 Travers Stakes winner Colonel John.

His grandam (maternal grandmother), Cloud’s Ambre, was a winner sprinting who produced Grade 1-placed winner Ilusoria, the dam of multiple stakes winner Peak Maria’s Way. His third dam (maternal great grandmother), Arctic Cloud, was a six-time stakes winner who finished third in the 1987 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and produced two stakes winners and two other stakes-placed runners.Likewise, there is much to like from the bottom half of this pedigree. Majesto’s dam (mother), Unacloud, by Unaccounted For, was unraced but she has already produced two Grade 1 winners in 2013 Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze and 2006 Matron Stakes winner Meadow Breeze as well as Grade 2-placed winner Mighty Monsoon.

Majesto is a maturing 3-year-old who appears to be developing into a promising talent. He also has the pedigree to be effective at 1 ¼ miles, a solid foundation and a very good trainer who should not be underestimated. He doesn’t look like a serious threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but if you are looking for a longshot with some upside to finish in the top four, Majesto definitely fits the bill.

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