Good Magic entered 2018 as a leading Kentucky Derby contender but lost some luster when returning with a disappointing third in the Fountain of Youth (G2). The 2-year-old champ will try to reinvigorate his prospects when making his final prep in Saturday’s $1 million Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland.
A Chad Brown-trained son of Curlin, Good Magic has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite with regular rider Jose Ortiz. The 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass serves as one of seven major qualifiers, offering a combined 170 points (100-40-20-10 scale) toward a Kentucky Derby berth, and a full field of 14 will meet the starter.
Free Drop Billy has been pegged as the 5-1 second choice. Winner of the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last fall, the Union Rags colt opened 2018 with a runner-up in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park and exits a third in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount for Dale Romans, who will also send out 30-1 outsider Tiz Mischief.
Quip and Flameaway, the respective 1-2 finishers in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), come next on the morning line at 6-1. Quip sprung a 19-1 front-running upset when returning from a 3 ½-month layoff at Tampa and the Rudolphe Brisset-trained colt recorded a convincing allowance tally at Keeneland last fall. Flameaway switched from turf to dirt with a nice score in the Sam F. Davis (G3) two back and the Mark Casse pupil overcame a troubled start most recently to post a fast-finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Juvenile Grade 1 winner Sporting Chance will try to turn things around for legendary horseman D. Wayne Lukas following a fifth in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park and Blended Citizen looks to make an impact on the main track after winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over Turfway Park’s Polytrack. Todd Pletcher has Marconi, who will need to improve upon a fifth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) to challenge, and it’s interesting to see leading European jockey Ryan Moore aboard for Coolmore connections.
Other runners include San Vicente (G2) winner Kanthaka, a non-threatening third in the San Felipe (G2); Fountain of Youth fourth-placer Machismo; stakes victor Gotta Go, who exits a sixth in the Fountain of Youth; and the Steve Asmussen-trained Zing Zang.