Good horses can do wonders when it comes to relieving the stress of their human caretakers. So the fact trainer Chad Brown was regaling visitors with stories about his late mentor, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, just minutes before champion Good Magic headed to the Keeneland track April 21 said a mouthful about how the son of Curlin is progressing toward the most important race of his life.
As he stepped onto the bustling Lexington oval and went about his penultimate breeze in advance of the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), Good Magic solidified to his conditioner there was no need to dial back his confidence.
With Brown watching from the Keeneland box seats, Good Magic gave the two-time Eclipse Award winner reason to stay loose and happy. The chestnut colt cruised through a four-furlong work in :48 flat—his first serious move since he captured the April 7 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
Under exercise rider Walter Malasquez, Good Magic broke off for his solo move in comfortable order, went through the half-mile with barely a nudge from his pilot, and galloped out to six furlongs in 1:14.
"The horse worked excellent," Brown said. "He was very comfortable to my eye. I'm just thrilled with the way the horse is moving. He was well within himself."
After starting his sophomore campaign with a third-place finish in the March 3 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), the bandwagon that formed after Good Magic captured the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in November seemed poised to lose some members, especially with budding standouts such as Justify and Audible gaining steam among Kentucky Derby prognosticators.
His 1 1/2-length victory over Flameaway in the Blue Grass Stakes silenced some of that, as well as the notion his Breeders' Cup triumph was the product of one good day of circumstances coming together. Just as his Juvenile win was his third outing of his 2-year-old season, the Kentucky Derby will be Good Magic's third start this year.
"I've seen the same development and … that was the plan," Brown said. "We rested him a bit after his 2-year-old year and brought him back trying to build toward his third race of the year being his best one. As a 2-year-old, his third race in his form cycle was his best one, and he (is) really thriving here at Keeneland.
"Everyone wants to see the horse win every time. And if you're a champion horse in the first race back and you come up a little bit short, it disappoints everyone. I wanted him to win the race. But looking back now, (the Fountain of Youth) was an important building block to get here today. It's all been a progression."
Brown added Good Magic will ship to Churchill Downs April 22, with plans to have his final pre-Kentucky Derby breeze beneath the Twin Spires.
"I want to give him a nice, full week of training over there—get used to the track," Brown said.
Owned by Stonestreet Stables and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, Good Magic has won two of five starts with earnings of $1,855,000.
Also on the Keeneland worktab Saturday was Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing's Blended Citizen, who is on the outside looking in toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Proud Citizen worked five furlongs in company in :59 2/5 with Hall of Famer Gary Stevens aboard for trainer Doug O'Neill.
Blended Citizen started a couple lengths in back of workmate Shane Zain, drew even in the stretch, and inched ahead at the wire before galloping out six furlongs in 1:11 2/5.
"The farther, the better for him," said Jack Sisterson, assistant to O'Neill. "He galloped out well, and Gary was happy with him. He said he really got going after the wire."
Fifth behind Good Magic in the Blue Grass Stakes, Blended Citizen is 24th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard for a Derby field limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box May 1.
"He will work again here Saturday," Sisterson said of Blended Citizen, who will need four defections to make the field. Kyle Frey will have the mount in the Derby should Blended Citizen get in.
Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender Eskimo Kisses, runner-up in the April 7 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1), breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 Saturday at Keeneland.
"That was perfect: A nice, happy breeze, and she galloped out good," trainer Kenny McPeek said. "She doesn't need much except a little maintenance breeze, something to keep her legs stretched. She is very easy and basic to train."
Corey Lanerie, who rode Eskimo Kisses in the Ashland Stakes, was aboard for the work. They went in company with Fern Circle Stables' Classy Music, third in a Keeneland optional-claiming allowance April 6. McPeek said Eskimo Kisses will breeze again at Keeneland April 28 before shipping to Churchill Downs.