01/05/2018 12:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Good Magic

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Good Magic lost his first two races. But trainer Chad Brown never lost confidence in Good Magic.

Undeterred by runner-up finishes in a maiden race at Saratoga in August and the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont in October, Brown convinced his owners – Bob Edwards’s e-Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stable – to ship Good Magic cross-country and take on the undefeated Bolt d’Oro on that colt’s home track of Del Mar in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Brown’s faith in the colt was rewarded when Good Magic rolled to a 4 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Good Magic was rewarded by being voted an Eclipse Award finalist as champion 2-year-old male. Twenty-five of the previous 33 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners were voted champion 2-year-old.

“It’s not surprising to me the horse ended up accomplishing what he did,” said Brown, the 2016 Eclipse Award-winning trainer and a finalist in that category for 2017. “Only thing surprising to me is he didn’t win first time out.”

Good Magic, a son of Curlin out of the Hard Spun mare Glinda the Good who brought $1 million at the 2016 Keeneland September sale, debuted Aug. 26 at Saratoga, Travers Day. He finished second to Hazit, chasing that horse all the way around the track. Brown, while immediately disappointed, ultimately concluded that the winner benefited from a track that favored inside speed while his horse was compromised by a three-wide trip.

Brown opted to run Good Magic in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont. After chasing a fast early half-mile, Good Magic made a short lead in midstretch, but was outfinished by Firenze Fire, losing by a half-length.

Still, Brown saw the colt take a step forward. He saw further steps in the colt’s training following the Champagne, and had already deduced Good Magic would appreciate running around two turns in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

In the Juvenile, Good Magic raced up close to a contested pace, tipped out turning for home, and galloped by pace-prompter Solomini while Bolt d’Oro, who raced wide throughout, finished third.

“What we saw in the Breeders Cup was a horse that wants to go two turns,” Brown said. “For a 2-year-old to go all the way out to Del Mar and run against [Bolt d’Oro] on a track that he had won twice over while my horse had three gallops over it . . . it takes an exceptional animal to do that.”

Following the Breeders’ Cup, Good Magic was sent to Stonestreet Farm in Ocala, Fla., for a seven-week vacation. He returned to Brown at Palm Meadows, a training center in south Florida, on Dec. 27. Brown said Good Magic would likely have two starts before the Kentucky Derby, though he has not yet finalized which races.