Mage overtakes Two Phil’s down stretch, wins Kentucky Derby


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mage crossed the finish line to win the 149th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, overtaking Two Phil’s down the stretch to win the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Mage, who had only one victory in three previous races, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.57 under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who snapped an 0-for-15 skid in the Derby.

Two Phil’s and 4-1 favorite Angel of Empire followed Mage to the finish line in front of a crowd of 150,335 on a warm and partly cloudy day at Churchill Downs.

Castellano and trainer Gustavo Delgado are from Venezuela.

“I never give up,” said Castellano, a four-time Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. “I always try hard to do the right thing. It took me a little while to get there. I finally got it.”

Mage joined Canonero II as Derby winners with Venezuelan ties. Canonero II won the Derby and Preakness in 1971.

“Turning for home, he had a lot of heart,” said Castellano, who has ridden two winners in the Preakness Stakes. “He’s a little horse with a big heart.”

Mage paid $32.42, $14.58 and $9.08. Two Phil’s, who had 9-1 odds, returned $10.44 and $6.52 at 9-1 odds. Angel of Empire paid $4.70 to show.

Forte, the early favorite, was scratched in the morning with a bruised foot, one of five horses that dropped out in the days leading to the race.

In his last race, Mage finished second by a length to Forte in the Florida Derby.

Two more horses died in earlier races Saturday, making it seven in all at Churchill Downs this week.

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