Preakness Diary: Mage’s Co-Owner Ramiro Restrepo on Family, Teamwork, and a Special Horse

Mage Preakness Kentucky Derby Pimlico Ramiro Restrepo owner Gustavo Delgado Triple Crown horse racing training Miami Fasig-Tipton diary
Groom Moises Morales gives Kentucky Derby winner Mage a bath after the colt galloped May 18 in preparation for a start in the Preakness Stakes on May 20. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Ramiro Restrepo is a fifth-generation horseman. His passion for racing stems from his grandfather, Luis Alvarez, who was a jockey, trainer and owner in Colombia.

Restrepo, 44, has reached heights his grandfather only dreamed of through his involvement with Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mage. The bloodstock agent joined assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado, Jr., in spotting the son of Good Magic at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic Two-Year-Old in Training Sale and made a winning bid of $290,000 for him.

Restrepo also works as Fasig-Tipton’s South Florida market representative. He shares ownership in Mage with OGMA Investments, Sam Herzberg’s Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH, which sells micro shares to investors.

As Mage prepares for a start in the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes May 20 at Pimlico,  Restrepo shares his emotions and insights with followers of America’s Best Racing through a diary written with Tom Pedulla:

I have never experienced anything like what has occurred since Mage won the Kentucky Derby. I have never had a child or been married, so this is the most incredible moment of my life. There have been so many people congratulating us and sending us good wishes.

We had no way of anticipating there would be so many media requests. It is a bit overwhelming at times, but we are doing everything we can to be responsive to everyone’s needs. Managing my time became a lot more challenging than it was before. I cannot imagine what it would be like if we should be going for the Triple Crown.

When I watch the replay of the stretch run and Mage charging into the lead, I cannot help but think of my grandfather and what this would have meant to him and to the generations that came before him. I get emotional every time because I never would have been in this business without their influence.

There is not as much time as I would like to have to reflect on everything because the Preakness comes up in a hurry. It feels like almost yesterday that we won the Derby, but here we are in Baltimore with everyone wanting to know if Mage can do it again. People are still wondering how he pulled off the upset in the Derby at 15-1 in only his fourth career start.

Fans often lose sight of how young these horses are. Three-year-old Thoroughbreds are like teenagers, growing up before our eyes physically and emotionally. They are being tested like they’ve never been tested before. That is what makes the Triple Crown so special and leads so many people to chase it.

With Mage, he was unraced as a 2-year-old but we could see him getting better and better with every start that followed his winning debut Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park. He took everything to another level once he got to Kentucky. J.J. Delgado, his exercise rider, suddenly felt more horse beneath him each morning.

Our boy was thriving and we knew he would be in the fight in the Derby. As J.J. told Javier Castellano in the paddock, this was not the same horse that finished fourth for Javier in the Fountain of Youth back in early March. He was ready to win.

Restrepo celebrates in the Derby winner’s circle. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Mage broke from post 8 at Churchill Downs and Javier did a great job of allowing him to relax and settle into a nice rhythm before working his way around and through the 18-horse field. I definitely do not see post 3 being a problem in the Preakness. There is a long run into the first turn and, as part of an eight-horse field, everything should be pretty straightforward. Javier is a Hall of Fame rider who continues to ride at a very high level.

There is no telling how a Derby horse will react to the two-week turnaround to the Preakness until he actually does it. We are the only ones attempting that, so you know how challenging it is. All indications are good. J.J. tells us he is handling the Pimlico surface well and feels as good to him as he did before the Derby.

As for the competition, my attitude is always to focus on your own horse. I did not worry about the other runners before the Derby and I am not thinking about them now. I know there are nice horses in there. Their connections all thought they were worthy of coming and we have to respect all of them.

Gustavo Delgado, our trainer, will have Mage ready. Fans in the United States may not know him well, but those in Venezuela definitely do. He won Triple Crowns there, the Caribbean Classic. He is an expert at helping young horses to extend themselves in classic races.

This is a special moment for him, but he has been on big stages before. He’s always stayed focused on Mage and what is best for him, even when that meant driving overnight from Louisville to Baltimore last weekend to make sure there were no delays due to traffic.

Gustavo came to the United States about a decade ago to go after races like the Derby. Although it was a dream for him, he also knew how he wanted to go about making it happen. He put together great teams when it came to buying horses, taking care of them and training them. We all learn from every loss and move forward because even the great ones lose sometime.

I’m not a prediction guy. I’m from Miami, so there is no Joe Namath in me. Mage is giving us every indication that he is up from another big effort. That is all we can ask. Whatever the Preakness brings, I am going to make sure to enjoy the moment, knowing how special it is.

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