Good Magic Rebounds to Win Haskell Invitational

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 31st, 2018

It’s hard to keep a champion down. Good Magic may have been overshadowed by Triple Crown winner Justify during the first half of the season, but with Justify now retired, Good Magic is already doing his best to work some magic and reenter the spotlight.

Just look at the impression that last year's champion two-year-old male made while winning Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park with complete authority. His victory was certainly not a surprise—he was the 1-2 favorite in the nine-furlong “Win and You’re In” prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)—but if anything, he outran expectations while making clear he’ll be a force to reckon with during the second half of the season.

From start to finish, Good Magic appeared to have the field measured. The son of Curlin casually settled in second place early on as longshot Roaming Union carved out fractions of :23.15, :46.83, and 1:11.48, but all the while Good Magic seemed poised to strike at any moment. Indeed, entering the final three furlongs, jockey Jose Ortiz asked the Chad Brown-trained colt to take command and the response was instantaneous; in the blink of an eye, Good Magic had put daylight between himself and his closest pursuers, opening up a four-length lead with an eighth of a mile to run.

Bravazo, runner-up in the Preakness Stakes, gamely stayed with Good Magic through the final furlong and gained back a length of the deficit, but Good Magic was never in danger of being caught and powered home under steady urging to win by three lengths in the time of 1:50.01.
If there’s one aspect that you can knock about Good Magic’s performance, it’s that he did not run a particularly fast race despite enjoying a picture-perfect trip—he never had a straw in his path, but his speed figures (98 Beyer and 103 BRIS) were only modest and he ran the final three furlongs in just :38.53 seconds.

Then again, Good Magic secured such a perfect trip in large part because he’s a talented horse with a nice blend of tactical speed and stamina. His gallant defeats in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness demonstrated that he can be competitive against tough company even with less favorable setups, and with Justify out of the picture, Good Magic could be set to enjoy a very productive and lucrative summer/fall campaign.

But let’s not overlook Bravazo, who stayed on gamely in the homestretch while leaving the remainder of the field six lengths behind. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained runner did not enjoy a particularly favorable setup trying to chase Good Magic while racing wide, and he also lost a shoe at some point during the race. Nevertheless, Bravazo stubbornly refused to yield in the homestretch, and a better pace setup in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga next month could give him a legitimate chance to turn the tables on Good Magic.