News & Barn notes

Kelly Breen To Handle Training Responsibilities For Vegas Magic For Saturday’s $250,000, Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks

July 26, 2023

Trainer Kelly Breen isn’t sure how much longer he will have Vegas Magic in his barn but he intends to make the most of the opportunity that he has with the Grade 2-winning 3-year-old filly.

Trained by California-based Doug O’Neill for her first six career starts, Vegas Magic was shipped from the West Coast to Monmouth Park 10 days ago, settling into Breen’s barn under an arrangement the two conditioners – and friends – have worked out.

She will make her East Coast debut in Saturday’s $250,000, Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, and will do so with Breen listed as the trainer.

“She kind of has dual citizenship now,” said Breen. “She’s doing great. I talked to Doug about her when she first got here and found out as much as I could about her. She has been training very well.

“What happens to her after this race I don’t know. That’s up to Doug.”

O’Neill said he and Breen have had a solid working relationship for arrangements such as this for a while now.

“I’ve known Kelly for years,” said O’Neill, who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another and repeated with Nyquist in 2016. “He’s a great guy. I try to help him any time I can when he comes to the West Coast and he has been a godsend to me with horses I send East.”

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Good Magic, Vegas Magic comes in off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos on July 4 in her seasonal debut. She started her career with three straight wins at 2, which included a victory in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar, before stepping up to company that proved to be a little too steep.

She was fourth in the Grade 1 Debutante at Del Mar before ending her 2022 campaign with an off-the-board finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. To this point, that was her only start outside of California.

“We’re just trying to run her against 3-year-olds now for as long as we can,” said O’Neill. “She’s kind of average size but a very athletic filly who is an easy keeper. Kelly said he was happy with the breeze.”

“You can tell she is a classy filly,” said Breen, a three-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park.

The 99th edition of the Monmouth Oaks, contested at a mile and a sixteenth, will offer Vegas Magic another test. Foggy Night, the recent winner of the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks; Occult, third in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes on June 9; Promiseher America, the winner of the Grade 3 Gazelle Stakes; Miss New York, the winner of the Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park on July 2, and Boiling Springs runner-up Shidabhuti are among the runners expected in the field.

O’Neill said having just one start this year – and trying two turns for just the second time; the other being in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – are both concerns, adding that “in this business you’re concerned with everything.”

“We have a lot of concerns going into this race but we’re excited and optimistic,” O’Neill said. “She’s doing well and it would be good to see her have some success around two turns, especially on the road, so we’ll see how that goes.”