But Aron Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, said there’s a “strong lean” toward the Grade 2, $200,00 San Antonio Stakes given what it could mean for the Graydar colt’s future.“He’s on the way back,” Wellman said, “and we’re hoping to be able to put a race into him opening day so we can put the Pegasus World Cup under consideration as well.”The Pegasus, newly reduced to $3 million, is an invitational that now costs connections nothing to enter. It’s also a medication-free event set for Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park.
“I certainly applaud The Stronach Group for trying to make positive strides in that regard,” Wellman said. “Whether now’s the time to ask older horses to come run for their biggest prize sort of cold turkey — they’ve been on medication and Lasix their whole lives, and now they’re being asked to do it without — is kind of precarious.”
But Gray Magician has already passed that test. Last March, the Peter Miller trainee ran second in the UAE Derby (G2) on Dubai World Cup night, when Lasix isn’t allowed.
“That allows for us to at least consider that path,” Wellman said of the Pegasus.
Dubai was as far flung as Gray Magician traveled this season, but he has spent much of it away from Miller’s southern California base. In addition to winning the Ellis Park Derby in August, he was second in Laurel Park’s Miracle Wood, second in the Indiana Derby (G3) and a runner-up in Parx’s Smarty Jones Stakes (G3).
“Going back to even before Dubai, we had always said we thought he was a horse that was just a cut below the best 3-year-olds,” Wellman said. “That’s why we sort of mapped out a road warrior campaign with him. We were going on money runs.”