As he arrived at his Keeneland barn April 8, bracing himself against the chill that refuses to leave the region, trainer Chad Brown could have pointed to any number of reasons why the mood in his shedrow was decidedly buoyant.
The first two days of the spring meet have been particularly fruitful for runners in the two-time Eclipse Award winner's care, yielding four wins, including a pair of graded stakes victories. As he watched a set get ready to train Sunday morning, Brown made sure to take a good look at the bright chestnut with the white blaze poking his head out. It was that colt's performance most responsible for taking the weight off a lot of shoulders less than 24 hours earlier.
Champion Good Magic joined his caretakers in being in good order one day after his vindicating, 1 1/2-length victory in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
"He looks pretty good. He cooled out last night, and we had him out grazing last night, and he was sound and good. Very happy with him," Brown said of the son of Curlin who picked up 100 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
Good Magic now sits atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 134 points, which is fitting considering he came into the 1 1/8-mile race needing to prove his Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male wasn't a fluke.
For all the strong regard he carried in the wake of his 4 1/4-length victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in November, his bandwagon lost some members when Good Magic finished a non-threatening third during his season debut in the March 3 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).
His winning move in the Blue Grass Stakes, when he loomed up on the far turn and kept digging in to beat multiple graded stakes winner Flameaway, confirmed to Brown and Good Magic's owners—e Five Racing and Stonestreet Stables—their colt had his top game back.
"I was very relieved to see him take that next step forward and run to his works," Brown said. "He had been training really well, and you cross your fingers that when they load in the gate, he runs in the afternoon the way he has been training in the morning."
Brown added he would likely keep Good Magic at Keeneland for the next couple weeks with plans to have his first post-Blue Grass breeze over the Lexington track before shipping to Churchill Downs.
"He really likes it here, so I don't see any reason to move right now," Brown said. "We'll maybe keep him here for a couple weeks. I did that last year with Practical Joke (fifth in the 2017 Kentucky Derby), and I liked that. Then we'd probably move to Churchill and have one work over there."
Blue Grass Stakes runner-up Flameaway was also in good order Sunday after a gutsy effort in which he battled with Arawak through the early fractions and still gave Good Magic all he could handle in the lane.
"I swear, that horse amazes me," said Mark Casse, trainer of Flameaway. "He's bouncing around wanting to know when he's going to run again. I've been doing this a long time, and just the pure grit he showed ... he did get a little intimidated down on the inside because that was kind of new for him. But he's ready to go."
Casse said Flameaway would ship to Churchill Downs April 9.
"We're hoping for a big Derby week," he said.
Also heading to Churchill Downs in the coming days is Monomoy Girl, brilliant winner of the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) Saturday. The daughter of Tapizar gave trainer Brad Cox his first career grade 1 victory when she led every point of call of her 5 1/2-length triumph, cementing herself as one of the favorites for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).
"When we came out of the paddock, I saw she was 2-5 on the board, and there is a lot of pressure there, obviously," Cox said. "But everything worked out. It was awesome. It was a great day—and especially so to get my first grade 1 in Kentucky, which is home."
The hard-trying mare Finley'sluckycharm earned her first career top-level win Saturday when she prevailed by a nose in a blanket four-horse finish to take the Madison Stakes (G1). Her next start could come in the $300,000 Humana Distaff (G1) at seven furlongs May 5 at Churchill Downs, a track where she is unbeaten in six starts.
"She ran a gutty race and was very deserving," trainer Bret Calhoun said. "She did the heavy lifting and still delivered. I only saw the first fraction (:21.96 for the first quarter-mile), and if I had seen the second at :44 and change (:44.31), I would have been scared to death for us.
"She has had her share of tough beats. It was special to get it done here in Kentucky. We have great plans for her this year, and this was the first major goal."