Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber’s Gray Magician punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1) following a runner-up finish in the U.A.E. Derby (G2) at Meydan on March 30. The sophomore picked up 41 total points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and ranks 18th on the leaderboard.
Gray Magician was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm, and he was an $18,000 RNA at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale. He is by the once-beaten Graydar, who earned his most notable victory in the 2013 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
From a trio of crops to have raced, that son of Unbridled’s Song is the sire of a trio of stakes winners including 2018 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) winner Lombo, who is a full brother to Gray Magician.
Gray Magician was produced from the stakes-winning Johannesburg mare Burg Berg, who is responsible for an unnamed two-year-old colt by Constitution, as well as an unnamed yearling filly by Street Boss. His second dam is stakes winner Snowberg, who placed in six graded races including three of the Grade 1 variety. Both of these mares did their best work at sprint and middle distances.
Johannesburg was an unbeaten juvenile who capped his spectacular two-year-old season in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Belmont Park. He has been solid at stud and as a broodmare sire as well, where his daughters have produced at least 36 stakes winners, four of whom were champions, with total earnings in excess of $26 million. The top domestic runner out of a Johannesburg mare is Grade 1 victor Collected, who was runner-up in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Gray Magician will enter the Run for the Roses as one of the longest shots in the field. He lacks a stakes win, his pedigree is geared for middle distances, and the class of the U.A.E. Derby field is in question.
In addition, the gray colt will have to overcome his lengthy round-trip voyage to Dubai and run a peak race at Churchill Downs to threaten a deep Kentucky Derby cast. A top performance at 1 1/4 miles from Gray Magician would be a big surprise to me.
PHOTO: Gray Magician at Meydan (c) Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood