First-crop sires: Good Magic's Blazing Sevens, Curly Jack win on Road to Kentucky Derby
By siring the winners of the first two scoring races on the main Road to the Kentucky Derby, Good Magic has surged to the lead in the freshman sire standings.
Curly Jack captured the Road to the Derby kickoff event, the Sept. 17 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, and Blazing Sevens splashed to victory in the historic Champagne (G1) Oct. 1 at Aqueduct. That prompted Tom Ryan of SF Bloodstock to comment on Good Magic’s prospects for becoming the champion first-crop sire.
GOOD MAGIC is taking a serious shot at the title amongst a deep bench of first crop stallions. BLAZING SEVENS G1 VEGAS MAGIC G2 CURLY JACK G3.— Tom Ryan. (@TomRyanKY) October 2, 2022
He has the right DNA.
$1 MILLION yearling.
CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD by CURLIN won the Bluegrass and Haskell.
Sikura's strike rate is 📈 pic.twitter.com/TEOdNX1i4f
Curly Jack and Blazing Sevens have similar trajectories as debut winners who ran decently in sprint stakes, then reached another level going longer. Both have figured prominently in prior installments of our “First-crop sires” series, in the opener on Good Magic as well as the Sept. 6 follow-up.
In this episode, we’ll cover their graded breakthroughs that have put them squarely into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) picture. Good Magic has several new winners to highlight as well, along with a few knocking on the door.
Blazing Sevens wins Champagne (G1)
After a smashing premiere at Saratoga, Blazing Sevens was an anticlimactic third in the Hopeful (G1) over a sloppy track. Trainer Chad Brown said that he was “dying to get him around two turns” in the Oct. 8 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, but changed his mind to go to the Champagne, also a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile. Two factors swayed him to the one-turn mile at Aqueduct: how well the colt was doing physically, and the opportunity to have five weeks’ spacing to the Breeders’ Cup rather than four.
Then Brown had to worry about another sloppy track for Blazing Sevens, since he had been all at sea in the Hopeful in similar conditions.
“The hurricane came north, and I was sick over it the last two days,” Brown said following the Champagne. “I was already committed here, so I stuck with it and thankfully, he handled the mud here today. Maybe it was a Saratoga thing last time; I’m not really sure. He didn’t run bad last time, he just wasn’t himself. Today, he was moving through perfectly.”
Under new pilot Flavien Prat, Blazing Sevens rallied from last in the six-horse field to win handily by 3 1/4 lengths. The final time of 1:37.07 garnered only an 86 Brisnet Speed rating, but his effort was a big step up on form. The 8.50-1 shot turned the tables convincingly on Gulfport, the Hopeful runner-up, who was third here.
Blazing Sevens was winning the Champagne that had just eluded Good Magic in 2017. Now he’ll try to emulate his sire by taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“It’s such a reward because he (Good Magic) was unlucky in the Champagne himself,” Brown said. “I thought he was very unlucky, actually. It was some good karma for us today that his son was able to get his head in front in the Champagne and win like he did. He’s been a wonderful horse to get along with. He’s all class.”
Curly Jack wins Iroquois (G3)
Good Magic’s first winner back on June 2 at Churchill, Curly Jack returned to the Twin Spires for the Iroquois with more experience, and a new running style. The Tom Amoss pupil had tired to fifth in the Sanford (G3) at the Spa, where he showed speed as on debut. But he’s been more effective in stakes coming from off the pace. Just denied in the Ellis Park Juvenile, Curly Jack packed the best punch on the stretch-out in the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois.
Like Blazing Sevens in the Champagne, Curly Jack was overlooked at 10.83-1, so the angle of Good Magic progeny trying a route is proving profitable. Jockey Edgar Morales eased him back into sixth early as a strong pace unfolded, then produced Curly Jack at the top of the stretch. His move was well timed, for he got the jump on deep-closing Honed to prevail by a length. Curly Jack, who registered an 86 Speed figure by clocking 1:45.62, is training up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Curly Jack launched a wide move on the far turn and charged to a clear lead by midstretch, recording a 10-1 upset in Saturday’s Iroquois (G3) @ChurchillDowns, the first race in the 2023 Road to the @KentuckyDerby series.@James_Scully111 recaps ⤵️ https://t.co/m8kSnB1mhw pic.twitter.com/GsedjlIwFL— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) September 19, 2022
A Russian winner to note
Although it doesn’t qualify as a black-type race by international standards, River Magic captured a Russian “Group 2” at Krasnodar Sept. 10. The $32,000 Keeneland September yearling had won by a pole in her Aug. 20 debut at about six furlongs. Stepping up to about seven furlongs for the Volga River Prize, the Stud Farm 711 runner flashed speed, turned back a challenge, and prevailed comfortably.
As a matter of wild speculation, I wonder if she might be the type to turn up in Dubai over the winter; in recent years, a couple of big-margin juvenile winners in Russia have resurfaced at Meydan (e.g., Tuz and Azure Coast).
Bred by SF Bloodstock in Kentucky, River Magic is out of multiple Indiana-bred stakes winner Rivertown Belle, by Bellamy Road. This is the further family of Hall of Famer Holy Bull.
New maiden winners
Protege, a first-time starter Sept. 21 at Churchill, was much sharper for Ron Moquett than his 10.55-1 odds implied. Stalking a couple of lengths off a fast pace of :21.70 and :45.50, Protege was the only one able to overhaul Lugan Knight, who drew six lengths clear of third. Protege rolled by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:09.93 for six furlongs, worth an 89 Speed rating.
Bred by Merriebelle Stable in Kentucky, Protege RNA’d for $80,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Owner Harry Rosenblum bought him for $80,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic in May. With those connections, Protege is likely to factor in the stakes series at Oaklawn Park.
Protege is out of the Forestry mare Taboo, a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Creative Cause and Vexatious as well as 2016 Belmont (G1) near-misser Destin. Taboo is responsible for Grade 3-placed Der Lu and stakes-placed Smartly Agree, herself the dam of current two-year-old stakes performer Towhead.
Fourth on debut to Instant Coffee in a fast-run race at Saratoga, Dubyuhnell promptly won next time at Aqueduct Oct. 2. Trainer Danny Gargan entered on a main-track-only basis, and the colt drew into the maiden that was rained off the turf. The addition of blinkers and stretch-out to a mile likewise contributed to his improved performance.
Jose Ortiz rode Dubyuhnell back, and had the 1.65-1 favorite (as part of the West Paces-affiliated entry) in striking range out wide early. The leaders appeared to spurt away on the sloppy track, but Dubyuhnell took off down the lane and mowed them down by 2 1/2 lengths. His time of 1:38.84 earned an 83 Speed rating.
Sold for $400,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, Dubyuhnell races for the partnership of West Paces Racing and breeder Stonestreet Stables. He was produced by millionaire Wild Gams, a multiple Grade 3-winning sprinter who missed by a neck in the 2006 Prioress (G1). The Forest Wildcat mare is also the dam of Cazadero, hero of the 2020 Bashford Manor (G3), and Almost Famous, third in the 2014 Matt Winn (G3) and Ohio Derby.
A maiden claiming winner worth watching?
How Did He Do That broke through in his third start on Sept. 30 beneath the Twin Spires. The Steve Asmussen pupil dropped from maiden special weight company to a $150,000 maiden claimer, and the seven-furlong distance helped too. Out of the Storm Cat mare Stormin Maggy, a stakes-placed half-sister to champion Afleet Alex, How Did He Do That survived the pace battle and won the war by 4 1/4 lengths. His 77 Speed rating is modest, but he has a solid chance of progressing.
Another maiden claiming scorer, Delilah’s Revenge, found the third time was the charm at Woodbine Sept. 25. Posting a game win on the front end for a $25,000 tag, the Ricky Griffith trainee was not claimed out of the five-furlong Tapeta dash.
Knocking on the door
Reincarnate debuted for Bob Baffert going a mile on turf Sept. 11 at Del Mar, endured a contested pace to beat off his rival, and just got nailed in the shadow of the wire.
Miss New York, based in England with David Loughnane, has shown incremental improvement coinciding with increased distance. She stayed on for a close third in a Thirsk nursery last out, her first try at a mile.
Several offspring of Good Magic have been exported to Saudi Arabia, including Shawash, who has placed in both starts so far. It’s a long way to Saudi Cup Day, but it wouldn’t be a shock if one of the locally-based Good Magics found his way into the Saudi Derby (G3).