Mage , this year's Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, has been retired from racing and will begin his stallion career at Airdrie Stud for the 2024 breeding season, his connections announced in a release Nov. 27.
The decision marks a change of plans from earlier this month when Gulfstream Park publicity reported that Mage would be pointed toward a 2024 campaign with the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) as a possible early season target.
"Mage has been a great blessing in our family's life," said trainer Gustavo Delgado Sr. "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. 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.
"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."
As it stands, Mage's victory in Kentucky Derby 149 is the highlight of a whirlwind 3-year-old campaign that saw him break his maiden in his racing debut Jan. 28 and win the Derby in just his fourth career start less than 100 days later.
In historical context, only Justify (2018) and Apollo (1882) won the Derby without the benefit of starting as a 2-year-old, and Mage matched Justify's record feat by winning the race having competed only three times previously. Racing for the ownership group of OGMA Investments, CMNWLTH, Sterling Racing, and Ramiro Restrepo and trained by the father-son team of Gustavo Delgado and Gustavo Delgado Jr., Mage's defining win came on the heels of a narrow defeat at the hands of champion 2-year-old male Forte in the Florida Derby (G1) and preceded a runner-up effort in the Haskell Stakes (G1) and third-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Mage retires as North America's leading 3-year old earner of 2023 with more than $2.5 million in earnings, a figure that this year trails only Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner White Abarrio among North American runners. The son of successful young sire Good Magic , who ranks second on the second-crop sires list through Nov. 26, and stakes winner Puca will stand his first season at an announced stud fee of $25,000.
"It is an incredible privilege for our team to be able to bring Mage into the Airdrie stallion barn," said Airdrie's Bret Jones. "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. The great work they did with Mage really can't be overstated.
"Not only were they able to win the Kentucky Derby less than 100 days after his career debut, but I really believe they put together the strongest season that any 3-year-old colt had this year. Mage retires as the leading 3-year-old earner in America and has won or placed in four grade 1 races this year—no other leading 3-year-old (colt in North America) has done that. He ran the highest dirt Beyer Speed Figure of any 3-year-old beyond a mile and his 105 Beyer from the Derby is the highest of any winner in the past 15 years. 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."This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.