Good Magic, Flameaway and Free Drop Billy All Going to Kentucky Derby
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Good Magic had already qualified for the Derby, but he showed his championship stripes by taking command in the stretch and holding sway over Flameway to win the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) by 1 ½ lengths on April 7. Trainer Chad Brown was pleased with Good Magic’s performance in covering 1 1/8 miles over the fast main track in 1:50.18 to earn $600,000 plus 100 points towards the Kentucky Derby. Good Magic paid $5.20 to win as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 15.
“I thought it was an outstanding performance,” Brown said. “He was well-placed early and kept steady throughout. Maybe we dock one point where it looked like he jumped a shadow near the wire, but that’s him. He’s going to look around a little bit. I was really happy how he ran today. For only two starts this year, I was hoping to be peaking for the Derby and hopefully we’ll advance another step on Derby Day. Looks like is a very good crop of horses this year and it’s going to be a tough race.”
Flameaway will run in the Derby after picking up 40 points for trainer Mark Casse as the 5-1 second choice.
“He never gave up,” said Casse. “He’s just so classy, you’ve got to love him. I got what I asked for. I said I wanted a fight at the top of the lane, and we got one. Unfortunately, we were second-best today. I think Chad (Brown) did a tremendous job. It’s one thing to train a horse to be a champion, and another to train them after they’re champions. We’ve beaten the winner of the Wood (Memorial-G2, Vino Rosso) twice already. I think we can hold our head high. (Flameaway will) be heading home (to Churchill Downs) probably tomorrow.”
A stewards’ inquiry and jockey’s objection resulted in Free Drop Billy being moved up to third over Sporting Chance. The change means that Free Drop Billy has enough points (44) to make the field for the Kentucky Derby, with trainer Dale Romans bringing him and Promises Fulfilled to Churchill Downs for the Derby. Sporting Chance (12 points) looked like he might catch Flameaway in the deep stretch to earn his Derby spot, but he ducked out sharply from inside near the sixteenth pole and weakened late while interfering with Free Drop Billy.
“I thought he was going to win,” Saez said of Sporting Chance. “He was perfect (until) we came to the wire. When I hit him he (veered) out. He did it twice today. I don’t know why he does that. He was perfect today up until then.” A disappointment for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, but the Hall of Fame trainer will still have a Derby runner with Bravazo.
Chad Brown and jockey Jose Ortiz won three races both Friday and Saturday to open the Keeneland spring meet, with the Blue Grass a big one along with Friday’s Transylvania (G3) with undefeated Analyze It showing why he’s the best 3-year-old turf runner in training.
But Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby will be where Good Magic, Flameaway and Free Drop Billy will Run for the Roses in search of Derby dreams.