Mage won only two times during his brief, seven-race career on the track.
The first took place Jan. 28, 2023, at Gulfstream Park in Florida, a 3¾-length victory in the thoroughbred’s career debut as a 3-year-old.
The second was slightly more memorable. On May 6 of this year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Mage won the 149th Kentucky Derby.
Mage’s surprising victory as a 15-1 shot who had raced only three times previously proved to be the last win of his career.
Airdrie Stud, located off Old Frankfort Pike outside Midway, will be the new home of the 2023 Kentucky Derby champion, who was retired from racing Monday and will take up stud duty there in 2024.
Mage raced for the ownership group of OGMA Investments, CMNWLTH, Sterling Racing, and Ramiro Restrepo. He was trained by the father-son team of Gustavo Delgado and Gustavo Delgado Jr. and ridden to victory in the Run for the Roses by Javier Castellano, all of whom hail from Venezuela.
Only Triple Crown winner Justify (2018) and Apollo (1882) won the Kentucky Derby previously without the benefit of starting as a 2-year-old.
“Mage has been a great blessing in our family’s life,” Delgado said in a news release Monday. “He was special for so many reasons and he gave all of us that were blessed to be associated with him the greatest days you could ever have in racing. He was so brilliantly talented and an incredible horse to work with as his mind and determination were as exceptional as his abilities.”
Mage, who had never raced at Churchill Downs previously, fought off efforts from Two Phil’s in second and Angel of Empire, one of the race favorites, in third to win the Kentucky Derby by 1 length in 2:01.57.
Mage returned to the racetrack two weeks after winning the Derby to launch a run at the Triple Crown in the Preakness Stakes but ended up finishing third behind National Treasure and Blazing Sevens. After a two-month break, Mage took on many of the nation’s top 3-year-olds again in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, where he was runner-up to Geaux Rocket Ride by 1¾ lengths.
What turned out to be Mage’s final race took place about a month after that, a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes against six other 3-year-olds at Saratoga.
Mage was scheduled for a bounce-back attempt in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic this month at Santa Anita Park in California but developed a fever and loss of appetite six days before the race and was withdrawn from consideration.
“We were very enthusiastic about the condition that the horse was going through, and despite how disappointed we feel right now, we are confident in a speedy recovery,” Delgado said at the time.
Restrepo, one of the co-owners, indicated in a social media post that Mage would return to the track as a 4-year-old, starting with the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27.
News came Monday that those plans would have to be scrapped.
“We were planning to have a championship 4-year-old campaign with him, but our routine end-of-the-season scan revealed that he had the beginnings of a small issue that would require us to miss his early season goals,” Delgado said in the news release. “He has been so good to us and owes us nothing. It is time for him to begin his next career and we look forward to winning the big races with his sons and daughters in the years ahead. He will not be a good sire, he will be a GREAT sire.”
Mage, a son of 2018 Kentucky Derby runner-up and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winner Good Magic and Broodmare of the Year candidate Puca, will stand stud for a fee of $25,000 in his first breeding season at Airdrie.
Mage ended his eight-month racing career with $2,507,450 in earnings, the most of any 3-year-old in North America in 2023.
“It is an incredible privilege for our team to be able to bring Mage into the Airdrie stallion barn,” Airdrie’s Bret Jones said in the news release. “To be able to stand a Kentucky Derby winner is so extremely special and we will always be grateful to the Delgado family and Mage’s ownership group for giving us this opportunity. … He is a very special horse and, when combined with being by one of the hottest young sires in the world and out of a mare that has the look of being truly important, has all the credentials to be a very special stallion.”
Herald-Leader Staff Writer Cameron Drummond and The Associated Press contributed to this article.