Good Magic could be great.
The question is, is he simply good enough to win the Kentucky Derby?
Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park should offer some clues when the nation’s top-ranked Derby contender races for the first time this year.
Good Magic has won just one race.
But it was an eye-catching four-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November.
That scintillating performance — along with a pair of close losses — convinced voters for the Eclipse Awards that Good Magic was the best 2-year-old in the nation.
And it captured the attention of Derby observers. The Daily Racing Form lists Good Magic as the No. 1 Derby prospect at odds of 6-1 to win the Run for the Roses.
“The year is filled with promise,” said trainer Chad Brown, who will put Good Magic on the Triple Crown trail Saturday at Gulfstream. “We’re excited to get his 3-year-old year kicked off and, hopefully, one filled with success and no interruptions.”
Brown has mapped out a two-race attack plan to get Good Magic to the Kentucky Derby: Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, possibly followed by the track’s signature race, the March 31 Florida Derby.
Oddsmakers have made Good Magic the 7-5 program favorite in Saturday’s field of 10.
Strike Power, the 4-1 second choice, could pose the stiffest challenge. Trained by Mark Hennig, Strike Power is unbeaten in two races — including a last-race victory in the Swale Stakes — but will be facing his toughest task in the Fountain of Youth.
Hennig is cautiously optimistic.
“Good Magic is a proven champion, and [Strike Power] is giving away an experience edge to basically everyone again, as he did in the Swale,” Hennig said of his lightly raced colt. “That’s a concern always. Horses get better with experience, but we need to find out if we’re heading on that road.”
Another contender to watch is Free Drop Billy, who is coming off a second-place finish to highly touted Audible in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. He is one of three horses trained by Dale Romans entering in the Fountain of Youth.
Currently, Free Drop Billy is a top-10 contender in the Racing Form’s ranking of Derby prospects and is the 9-2 third choice to win the Fountain of Youth. Rounding out the field: He Takes Charge (20-1), Peppered (30-1), Storm Runner (15-1), Gotta Go (10-1), Marconi (8-1), Machismo (15-1) and Promises Fulfilled (20-1).
Post time for Saturday’s first race at Gulfstream is 11:30 p.m.
The Fountain of Youth, the finale on the track’s 14-race card, is set to go off at 6:09 p.m.