With retired Triple Crown winner Justify off the scene, the divisional Eclipse Award is settled, but the mantle of best three-year-old still in training is up for grabs. Last year’s divisional champion Good Magic stated his intent to fill that leadership vacuum by romping in Sunday’s $1,010,000 Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park.
Arguably his most logical successor, Good Magic was a game runner-up to Justify in the Kentucky Derby (G1). His attempt to put it to Justify early in the Preakness (G1) took a bigger toll on Good Magic, who was softened up late and wound up fourth in his only unplaced effort. Trainer Chad Brown opted to freshen him up for the Haskell rather than sap his questionable stamina in the Belmont (G1), and that judicious handling now has Good Magic poised for a big second half. The August 25 Travers (G1) is next on the agenda, all being well, and he’s earned a berth in the November 3 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in the “Win and You’re In” Haskell.
Good Magic, bet down to 1-2 favoritism, gave his fans confidence at every stage. Breaking sharply for regular rider Jose Ortiz, he tracked front-running 45-1 shot Roaming Union through fractions of :23.15 and :46.83. Good Magic accosted the leader at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.48, dispatched him in short order, and spurted well clear in a show of dominance.
Fellow classic veteran Bravazo, who came closest to beating Justify when a half-length second in the Preakness, was the only rival in the picture as he gave chase. Although no threat to Good Magic, his good attitude was on display as he shaved a length off the daylight margin.
Underscoring the strength of Justify’s Triple Crown form, the only other classic participant in the Haskell, Lone Sailor, rounded out the trifecta another six lengths astern. Core Beliefs, best of the late developers who missed the Triple Crown races, reinforced the solid-looking result in fourth. He was eligible to do better without bobbling at the start, but the two classic runners-up were still leagues apart. Next came the ambitiously spotted trio of Golden Brown, the Kent (G3) winner whose future presumably lies on turf; Roaming Union; and Navy Commander.
Good Magic crossed the wire an emphatic three-length winner while clocking 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.01. His triumph capped a four-win day on the Jersey Shore for both Brown and Ortiz, who also teamed up to take the Matchmaker (G3) with Elysea’s World.
His Haskell trophy comes 11 years after sire Curlin and broodmare sire Hard Spun were unable to contain Any Given Saturday in the 2007 edition. Hard Spun was second, and Curlin third. But the result was reversed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic back at Monmouth, with Curlin securing the first of two Horse of the Year titles en route to the Hall of Fame.
A $1 million Keeneland September yearling purchase by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, which co-owns him in partnership with breeder Stonestreet Stables, Good Magic has compiled a record of 8-3-3-1, $2,945,000. His maiden score famously came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), following sharp seconds in the Champagne (G1) and his Saratoga debut. The chestnut was a ring-rusty third in his seasonal reappearance in the Fountain of Youth (G2), but moved forward to take the Blue Grass (G2), and competed honorably in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. Considering how Curlin strengthened with maturity, the Haskell is a strong indicator that the best may indeed be yet to come from his champion son.
Good Magic is the product of two Stonestreet colorbearers. While Curlin was a private acquisition, multiple stakes-winning and Grade 2-placed dam Glinda the Good is a homebred daughter of Hard Spun.