A Classy Champion, 1989 Belmont Stakes Winner Easy Goer
Life can change in an instant, so the events that unfold during a two-week period can surely be dramatic.
For everyone involved with the 3-year-old colt Mage, life has surely pivoted in a 180-degree fashion from May 3 to May 17.
Two weeks ago, Mage was a 15-1 shot flying under the radar at the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve amidst the electricity of America’s most famous horse race.
A six-wide rally and a pulsating length victory later in the opening leg of the Triple Crown and the same people are the stars of the show at the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Now the cameras, microphones, and cell phones are focused on them as Mage draws closer to a date with destiny as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the May 20 (7:01 p.m. EDT post time) classic for 3-year-olds.
The pressure has, of course, risen exponentially, but for an array of obvious reasons the connections are much happier being a focal point rather than a part of the landscape. The pressures of being a favorite are offset by the knowledge that your horse has the best chance of winning.
“It’s great to have a horse who is live and if he shows up like he did in his other races, it will be hard for them to beat him,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., son and assistant trainer to his father, Gustavo Delgado. “That feels great. Then there’s the pressure of being the favorite. If you want to be the favorite, then you have to face the pressure that comes with it. I like having a big shot to win.”
The younger Delgado says he has tried to stay on an even keel despite a life-changing victory on the first Saturday in May, keeping his emotions in check on the Wednesday before the Preakness as he did on the Wednesday before the Derby.
“I feel the same. I try to stay in the middle. I don’t want to get too excited. Sometimes it works and sometimes you can’t help yourself,” he said.
As for the Kentucky Derby winner, the younger Delgado said he can see a change in Mage from the past month and a half when the son of Good Magic exited a runner-up finish in the Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm at Xalapa to now, and he likes what he sees.
“To me he looks better. For some reason he looks more in focus, mature. He’s more in the bridle in the morning. He looks good,” said the younger Delgado who runs OGMA Investments. OGMA owns Mage along with Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing, and CMNWLTH, which offers equity shares in horses and athletes. “What he did in the Kentucky Derby was impressive,” he continued. “You watch the replay and the way (Mage and jockey Javier Castellano in rallying from 16th) stayed out of trouble, I always say it was like Nintendo with a joystick.”
Mage continued his pre-race regimen Wednesday by galloping a little more than a mile and a half around Pimlico’s main track.
“To me he’s looking better with more energy and wanted to do a little more. His exercise rider, J.J. (Delgado), says he’s doing good,” the assistant trainer said.