Trainer Peter Miller reflected on Gray Magician’s neck victory Friday at Keeneland, saying, “We’re happy he won.” But both Miller and jockey Javier Castellano were a bit befuddled as to why the 3-year-old son of Graydar doesn’t want to win by more.
In a prep for a possible Breeders’ Cup run, Gray Magician edged out a Stubborn Pirate’s Punch in allowance optional claiming company, finishing up 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.38 after Castellano made a confident three-wide move through the turn.
Gray Magician looked poised to fly by his competition, but “he’s got a bad habit of kind of not wanting to pass the last horse,” Miller said. “He hangs.”
The colt entered off a narrow defeat in the Sept. 2 Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) at Parx Racing. He lost by a head that day. Two starts back, in the Aug. 11 Ellis Park Derby, Gray Magician defeated an off-form Knicks Go by a half length.
“We try different things in the morning — letting him beat up on some workmates and things and letting him run away from horses,” Miller said. “He does great in the morning, but in the afternoon, he’s pretty smart. He just does what he has to do and no more.”