Mage won the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday to capture the first leg of America’s Triple Crown.
Mage, who finished second in the Florida Derby last month, went off at 15/1 and took up the lead late to beat Two Phil’s and Angel of Empire, one of the favourites, who finished in third place.
The victory was the first Kentucky Derby win for Venezuelan trainer Gustavo Delgado and Venezuelan Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who won the Run for the Roses after 16 attempts.
“I never give up, I always try hard, took a lot to get here I finally get it,” said Castellano. “I’m blessed. Thank you for the opportunity to run this horse, that has a lot of heart.”
An emotional Delgado added: “When I arrived to the US my first dream was go to Kentucky. I was sure that the horse was very good.”
This year’s race was marked by the number of horses scratched, including pre-race favourite Forte who became the fifth horse to be removed early on Saturday, leaving the field at 18 horses, the shortest field since 2020.
Saturday’s Derby was also the culmination of a week stained by the death of seven horses – two in the hours before the race – that led to the suspension of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.
The Preakness Stakes, second leg of the Triple Crown, will be run on May 20 at Pimlico in Baltimore, followed by the Belmont Stakes three weeks later on June 10.