Competitors are seen during the 149th Kentucky Derby ‘Run For The Roses’ at Churchill Downs on May 06, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Stephen J. Cohen | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Mage won the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday to claim the first leg of the Triple Crown of American Thoroughbred racing.
Mage, who finished second in the Florida Derby last month, completed the 1 1/4 mile race in 2 minutes and 1.57 seconds.
The chestnut colt, who started 15-1, accelerated down the home straight to take the lead and cross the finish line ahead of second-placed Two Phil’s and favorite Angel of Empire, who finished third place.
The victory was the first Kentucky Derby victory for Venezuelan trainer Gustavo Delgado and Venezuelan Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who won the race for the roses after 16 attempts.
“I never give up, I always try hard, it took me a long time to get here, I finally got it,” Castellano said. “I’m blessed. Thank you for the opportunity to race this horse, who has a lot of heart.”
An emotional Delgado added: “When I came to the United States, my first dream was to go to Kentucky. I was sure the horse was very good.”
This year’s race was marked by the number of clawed horsesincluding favorite Forte who became the fifth horse to be eliminated early on Saturday, leaving the field at 18 horses, the smallest field since 2020.
Saturday’s Derby was also the culmination of a week marked by the deaths of seven horses, which resulted in the suspension of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. Two horses, Chloe’s Dream and Freezing Point, had to be euthanasia hours before Saturday’s race.
“It is with the greatest sadness that we report these tragic fatal injuries. Churchill Downs is unwavering in its commitment to the health and welfare of equine safety,” said Churchill Downs.
Animal rights group PETA said that, given the number of deaths, they had urged Churchill Downs to close the track in order to implement stricter safety protocols.
“Churchill Downs is a battleground,” said PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. added in a separate statement.
The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be held on May 20 at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, followed by the Belmont Stakes three weeks later on June 10.