Pedigree notebook: Good Magic off to flying start as classic sire

May 16th, 2023

In this regular feature, we highlight a wide range of pedigree musings.

Good Magic had the credentials to become an important sire on the Triple Crown trail. Even so, the champion son of Curlin has made quite an impact at his earliest opportunity, siring Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage in his very first crop.

His classic total might double on Saturday, as Good Magic has 37.5% of the Preakness (G1) field. Mage hopes to keep the Triple Crown dream alive, while Blazing Sevens and Perform give their sire a total of three chances in the middle jewel.

The trio have different profiles, underscoring that Good Magic can sire youngsters who come to hand as juveniles as well as those who blossom at three, like Mage. That makes his Derby trail achievement all the more remarkable.

Good Magic's sons on the Derby trail

Good Magic sired four winners of scoring races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, yet none turned out to be his Derby winner. Curly Jack took the first points race in last September’s Iroquois (G3); Saratoga debut romper Blazing Sevens progressed to win the historic Champagne (G1); Dubyuhnell thrived over 1 1/8 miles in the Remsen (G2); and Reincarnate zipped wire to wire in the Sham (G3). 

Those four were all covered in installments of our 2022 first-crop sires series on Good Magic. Mage didn’t begin his career until after the series ended, bursting onto the scene with a sharp front-running maiden win on Pegasus World Cup Day.

Thrown straight into a stakes and two-turn debut in the Fountain of Youth (G2), Mage shaped with promise in fourth, and duly improved to a bang-up second in the Florida Derby (G1). The Kentucky Derby was just his fourth start, so we don’t know at this point just how high Mage’s ceiling might be.

Another Magic trick in Preakness?

Interestingly, both Mage and Blazing Sevens won the major races that just eluded Good Magic. He was the near-misser in the 2017 Champagne before famously breaking his maiden in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Good Magic crossed swords with Justify in the first two jewels of the 2018 Triple Crown, placing second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness (with an aggressive change of tactics).

Will the pattern of Good Magic’s gaining vicarious compensation extend to the Preakness? While Mage enters off a career high, and Blazing Sevens could be cycling back into his peak form, Perform has traits in common with both.

Like Blazing Sevens, Perform made it to the races early, in July, and compiled four starts in his two-year-old season. But he couldn’t break his maiden until Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey stretched him out to two turns this spring. Like Mage, Perform is now in the form of his life after surging to get up in the Federico Tesio S. Not nominated to the Triple Crown, he has persuaded connections to stump up the $150,000 fee to join the Preakness cast.

Good Magic himself had displayed these qualities — namely, early talent that came to fruition with maturity. Had he stayed in training at four, chances are he would have added to his resume. His last win, in the 2018 Haskell (G1), was his most authoritative since the Breeders’ Cup. Considering that Curlin’s progeny are known to excel with age, it’s worth wondering if we even saw Good Magic at his absolute best.

Northern Dancer cross to the fore

It’s early days to start looking for patterns in his leading offspring, but from a total of nine black-type winners so far, seven are out of Northern Dancer-line mares. Five of them are via the Storm Cat branch, including Perform, Reincarnate, and Dubyuhnell.

Mage’s dam is by Big Brown, a scion of the Danzig branch (more in his “pedigree fun facts” on, and Blazing Sevens is out of a Medaglia d’Oro granddaughter. The cross with Northern Dancer isn’t surprising, partly because of the mares’ population, but also because Good Magic is himself out of a mare by the Danzig stallion Hard Spun.

More Magic still to come

Along with the possibilities of other Good Magic sophomores progressing over the summer, e.g. Canadian Triple Crown nominee Equivoque and Demolition Duke, look out for his second-crop juveniles to hit the track. Magical Mark, who sold for just $32,000 as a yearling at Keeneland last September, won for fun by 10 lengths May 11 at Lone Star Park.

Good Magic also lit up the sales ring at OBS March. Big-spending Amr Zedan paid $2 million to secure the sales topper, a colt out of the Uncle Mo mare Hoppa, and Steve Young, agent, went to $725,000 for Ari’s Magic, a colt out of Ari the Adventurer.

Other prominent operators scooping up Good Magic juveniles at sales recently include Repole Stable (filly out of Tenggara), Madaket Stables (filly out of Rivercane), C R K Stable (Shear Magic), Willis Horton Racing (colt out of Holiday Bertie), and Dennis O’Neill (Feel the Magic).

Mage went to his connections for $290,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic May Sale around this time a year ago. A few more Good Magics are slated to go through the same auction just a couple of days after the Preakness. How many of these 2023 sales graduates might we follow on the 2024 trail?

Standing alongside sire Curlin at Hill ‘n’ Dale, Good Magic has already proven himself a worthy heir to his legacy.