On a Jan. 23 afternoon at Gulfstream Park with seven stakes, including the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), a $50,000 maiden contest for 3-year-olds, the sixth race, is one of the most compelling races from a pedigree perspective.
The seven-furlong contest launches the career of a half brother to 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify , a Pioneerof the Nile colt named Stage Raider. Owned by breeder John Gunther, the unraced 3-year-old is one of five entrants that are related to graded/group stakes winners.
Bred in Kentucky, Stage Raider is out of the graded-placed Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic, the 2018 Broodmare of the Year who also produced 2018 American Stakes (G3) winner The Lieutenant. Tragically, The Lieutenant was one of a group of stallions killed by intruders at Haras Barlovento in Cañete, Peru, in late 2019.
Four of Stage Magic's seven foals have raced. A full sister to Stage Raider, Egyptian Storm, is the only non-winner from the dam's starters. She ran fifth in her lone race at Tampa in February 2019.
The mare also has a yearling filly by Curlin .
Some of Stage Magic's foals have been sold at public auction, including the Bob Baffert-trained Justify, a $500,000 purchase at the 2016 September Yearling Sale at Keeneland. He became the 2018 Horse of the Year while racing primarily for owners China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm. He initially started for China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and SF Racing.
Justify stands for $125,000 at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.
Consigned by Gunther's Glennwood Farm to the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Stage Raider fell short of his reserve when bidding halted at $950,000.
He is now trained by Chad Brown, who started Without Parole in the United States during a stretch in 2019-20 for Gunther and his daughter Tanya. The Gunthers brought Without Parole to America from overseas, where he won the 2018 St. James's Palace Stakes (G1) for them and trainer John Gosden at Royal Ascot.
Stage Raider has been working promisingly at Palm Meadows Training Center this winter, including a :48.05 half-mile in-company gate breeze Jan. 9 in which he appeared to be traveling more comfortably than his workmate. That workmate, Deferred Taxes (Flintshire ), was a debut second at Tampa Bay Downs in a maiden race on turf Jan. 20. Video of the Jan. 9 workout and others are online at XBTV.com.
Others related to graded winners in Saturday's sixth race include Quantum Leap, Prevalence, Marching, and Traveller.
The latter, by Tourist out of the graded stakes-winning Pure Prize mare Purely Hot, is a half brother to Eight Rings, winner of the 2019 American Pharoah Stakes (G1). A fast-working first-time starter owned by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, he is the 7-2 morning-line favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher under Irad Ortiz Jr.
Stage Raider, with Jose Ortiz up, is the 9-2 second choice, just ahead of 5-1 Ghazaaly (Curlin ), a $1.05 million buy at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale who debuts under Luis Saez for owner Shadwell Stable and Pletcher.