Mage wins 149th Kentucky Derby to cap tumultuous week

Mage wins 149th Kentucky Derby to cap tumultuous week

Mage wins 149th Kentucky Derby to cap tumultuous week

Mage roared from off the pace to win the 149th Kentucky Derby on May 6, launching U.S. racing’s Triple Crown campaign as two more horse deaths on cast a pall on proceedings at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Gustavo Delgado and jockey Javier Castellano, both from Venezuela, each claimed a first Kentucky Derby win, Mage surging around the final turn and out-dueling Two Phil’s down the stretch.

Two Phil’s, trained by Larry Rivelli and ridden by Jareth Loveberry, finished second and Angel of Empire, trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat, was third.

Mage, a 16-1 shot who had impressed in running second to Forte in the Florida Derby five weeks ago, was among the beneficiaries when the race was thrown wide open on May 6 morning as favorite Forte became the fifth horse scratched from the 1 1/4-mile event.

Now he’s poised to challenge for the Triple Crown, with the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on May 20 to be followed by the Belmont Stakes in New York in June.

“Give me a couple of days at least,” Delgado laughed when asked if Mage would be pointed toward the coveted treble.
Mage became the fourth horse to win the Derby off only three prior career starts.

The scintillating run capped a disturbing week at the iconic racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, where seven horses have died in the space of 10 days.

That included two horses on May 6’s race program, Chloe’s Dream and Freezing Point, that were euthanized after being taken from the course by horse ambulance after breaking down in races.

Last week, Derby-bound Wild on Ice and Take Charge Briana were euthanized after suffering leg injuries.

Chasing Artie and Parents Pride, both trained by Saffie Joseph, collapsed and died with the cause of death still unknown.

The Board of Stewards announced on May 4 that all Joseph-trained horses had been scratched from all races until further notice. That included Derby runner Lord Miles.

Those four deaths prompted a statement of concern from Churchill Downs officials, and the Daily Racing Form then reported that another horse, Code of Kings, flipped over while being unsaddled in the paddock and broke his neck.