What to Watch for in the 2023 Preakness Stakes

Mage will attempt to win the Triple Crown, but will be facing competition from Bob Baffert.

What to Watch for in the 2023 Preakness Stakes

The stories of Mage's victory were overshadowed by the death and injuries that occurred during this year's Kentucky Derby. There's plenty to love about the colt, who is advancing rapidly as he prepares for the 148th Preakness Stakes race on Saturday.

It was the only third time a horse won the Derby without having raced as a two-year-old, and only the fourth time he had only made three previous starts. Another horse who did both? Justify is the 2018 Triple Crown winner.

Mage has only lost two races, and both were against Forte. Forte was the Derby morning-line favourite who was scratched on the day of racing. Mage is now the only Derby contender at the Preakness and First Mission was scratched Friday.

Mage is the dream of a Venezuelan club -- and his small-time owner.

Mage's owner, Gustavo Delgado Sr. won the Venezuelan Triple Crown two times before coming to America in 2014 and setting his sights on America's largest races.

Delgado Sr. has saddled 3 horses in the Derby.

Gustavo Delgado Jr. said that his father was inspired to win the Derby and Preakness in 1971 by the Venezuelan connections, who had won with Canonero II.

Delgado Jr. is the son's father's assistant. "I remember as a child, when he had success in Venezuela, he always told me that one day we should go to America and win a race."


Both Mage's jockey Javier Castellano and his exercise rider J.J. Delgado are Venezuelan. Castellano’s father, J.J. Delgado and Delgado Sr. used to be Delgado Sr.'s riders.

Castellano was motivated to enter the Derby after he heard the NBC broadcast mention his 0-for-15 race record. In the Preakness he has had more success, winning with Bernardini in 2006 and Cloud Computing in 2017.

The Delgados also faced the challenge of finding owners and horses who were willing to invest in them when they arrived in the United States. The Delgados and Ramiro Retrepo, who was Ramiro's bloodstock agent, worked together to purchase Mage at the Fasig Tipton 2-year old sale in Timonium. His family had emigrated from Colombia prior to his birth. The Delgados liked the fact that Mage was almost a replica of Good Magic who had finished second in both the Derby and Preakness.

They loved him so much they spent more than their budget of $290,000. They called up some people to share the cost, such as the real estate investor Sam Herzberg, and the entrepreneurs Brian Doxtator, and Chase Chamberlin whose Commonwealth App allows racehorse fans to purchase shares for as little $50.

This melting pot group of people rode Mage into the winner's enclosure on the first weekend in May. It was the largest winner's celebration in Derby history, and Mage himself looked tiny in the midst of it.

Around 80 of the 382 investors who invested through Commonwealth in Mage were present. One of those was Norma Barnes-Euresti, a Michigan resident. Gerardo and Jose Ortiz who had just ridden in the Derby carried her when her wheelchair became stuck on the track.

She said, 'I didn't have any legs today, but it was the ride of a life time,' on NBC. She spoke about the kindness of the jockeys and her Triple Crown candidate Mage.


First Mission scrapped as regulators increase scrutiny

Preakness Stakes officials have adopted a cautious stance after seven horses died in Churchill Downs before the Kentucky Derby. First Mission, the second choice at 5-2 in the morning betting line, was scratched early on Friday due to an unspecified injury to the left hind ankle.

Brad Cox trains the colt, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum's stable Godolphin owns it. First Mission had just won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland last month. But his trainer noticed that something wasn't right after Wednesday training. On Friday, a veterinarian team from 1/ST racing (which owns Pimlico Race Course) scratched him.

Michael Banahan said that First Mission will be sent to Lexington, Ky. for a thorough examination.

Banahan stated that they thought it might be a minor problem with the left rear ankle. You couldn't really do proper diagnosis on site or on the track. He was doing well at Pimlico. But it's just the way things are.

Every horse that competes here this weekend will be subjected to extra scrutiny. Officials require two veterinary approvals before a race horse can run. One must be from the trainer’s private veterinarian, and the second from the regulatory vet of the state in which the horse was stabled prior to coming to Baltimore.

First Mission's scratch makes the Preakness field even weaker. Since 1948, Citation was the only Derby competitor in the second leg of Triple Crown. The Triple Crown was completed when he won the Belmont Stakes.


Bob Baffert is back on the Triple Crown Trail.

Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer, is returning to Triple Crown after his colt Medina Spirit fails a drug screen after winning the Kentucky Derby in 2021. Medina Spirit ran in the Preakness, but came in third.

Since then, Baffert served a Kentucky suspension and a two year ban from Churchill Downs and the Derby. Baffert served his Kentucky suspension last year during the Triple Crown. The racing commissions of Maryland and New York therefore prevented him from competing in the Preakness or Belmont.

He returns to the Preakness with National Treasure, who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby. The pair will be aiming for a record-breaking eight victory. He is currently tied to the 19th century trainer R. Wyndham Walden.

Baffert’s first three Derby and Preakness winners – Silver Charm (1997) Real Quiet (2000) War Emblem (2002 ) – were not able to complete the Triple Crown at Belmont Park. The last two - American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) - were able to complete the Triple Crown at Belmont Park.

National Treasure was 3-1 on the morning line when John Velazquez rode it. The colt won just once, but was competitive at the top races in California and Kentucky. The colt was third in the Breeders' Cup Junior to Forte.

Baffert said to reporters that he thought Baffert would fit in here. He will need to do more. He's a horse who hasn't filled out his frame, but we were always high on him. He hasn't run a bad racing.