The dreams of many came to a crushing end at Pimlico in the middle of May, as the wait for a 14th Triple Crown winner in the United States continued. Mage was considered by many to be a strong contender to continue the dream in the Preakness Stakes, but he eventually tired in the closing stages to take third.
While many saw this as a disappointing result for the three-year-old, there will still be positives to take from his gallant effort behind National Treasure and Blazing Sevens.
Mage Takes Third In Preakness Stakes
Winning the Triple Crown is no easy feat, and that is highlighted by the fact that only 13 horses have been able to achieve the dream. Mage looked to have an excellent chance of at least extending the dream at Pimlico, as the three-year-old was sent off as a short-priced favorite in an extremely small Preakness Stakes field.
However, the aftereffects from the strong Kentucky Derby run were evident in the closing stages, as he clearly lacked the fitness to compete to the wire. That fact was only backed up by National Treasure and Blazing Sevens taking first and second in the race after an extended break following their absence in the Derby field.
Following his run in the Preakness, it was announced by Gustavo Delgado that Mage would bypass the Belmont Stakes, as connections would set their sights on bigger targets further down the line. You can find more information about Belmont Stakes here: https://edge.twinspires.com/racing/belmont-stakes/
Mage’s Next Race
We will likely see Mage back on track in either late June or early July as a prep for the season-target of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The Travers is commonly known as the summer Derby, and often attracts a star-studded field to compete for the $1.25 million purse. It will see Mage once again compete over the 1 ¼ distance, which will mark his first run over the distance since landing the Kentucky Derby.
Some of the best horses in recent memory have landed victory in the Travers, but American Pharoah’s defeat in the 2015 edition does show that there are often shock outcomes.
Connections have indicated that Mage’s next target will be the Travers, with a solid outing likely to see him stepped up to 1 ½ miles with a Breeders’ Cup Classic target in mind. But, it could be a big ask to land victory at Saratoga.
Who Could Mage Fact At Saratoga?
Connections will certainly want to get Mage on track before a tilt at the Travers, as there will be hot competition in the ‘Win and You’re In’ race. The betting will likely be headed by Forte, who will first have to overcome the Belmont Stakes before a final decision is made on his participation. Two Phil’s pushed Mage the hardest in the Derby, and Larry Rivelli has indicated that the Travers is now his season-goal after bypassing both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
Steven Asmussen has also touted Disarm as a possible contender for the Travers after a strong fourth in the Derby at Churchill Downs. However, the most interesting contender could come in the form of Bob Baffert’s Arabian Knight. The three-year-old has bypassed all three Triple Crown races, despite heading the betting for the Kentucky Derby in late January.
Can Mage Bounce Back?
It could be argued that too much was read into Mage’s run in the Preakness, as he just lacked fitness in the final stages to throw down a challenge against his much fresher rivals. Some time away from the track will do the three-year-old the world of good, and there will be renewed hope for the second half of the season when he returns to the track.