Stage Raider, a half-brother to undefeated Triple Crown hero Justify, took one more try than his brother did but followed in that Horse of the Year’s hoofprints with a ‘TDN Rising Star’-worthy graduation at Keeneland.
Runner-up to another impressive ‘TDN Rising Star’ in Prevalence (Medaglia d’Oro) in his seven-panel debut at Gulfstream Jan. 23, the bay was hammered down to 9- 5 favoritism to get the money this time. Breaking on top, the Gunther homebred was overtaken by a pair of foes just before the first quarter went up in :22.70.
Despite racing greenly in the stretch of the seven-furlong maiden special weight event under Irad Ortiz Jr., Stage Raider impressed at second asking for trainer Chad Brown. He stalked the leaders in third from the three path, ranged up into contention off the turn for home, and ducked in at the sixteenth pole when anticipating right-handed pressure—then galloped clear. The final time was 1:22.62.
Keeping close tabs from third through a half-mile in :45.75, Stage Raider charged up three wide turning for home and stormed clear in the lane, splashing home to a 10 3/4-length victory. Harvard, who is a full-brother to a champion in Classic Empire, was best of the rest in second, making it an exacta for the late Pioneerof the Nile.
Stage Raider received some of his early lessons from Mark Roberts at the famed Hidden Brook Florida training center in Williston, Florida.
Fellow Gunther homebred Stage Magic’s first foal was the GSW The Lieutenant. Her second foal Holiday Music was privately purchased by Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Farm prior to Justify’s Triple Crown sweep to begin her new career as a broodmare. Third time was certainly a charm for Stage Magic was two-time Eclipse winner Justify was foal number three.