Mage rallied to a victory Saturday at the scratch-filled 149th Kentucky Derby, bringing trainer Gustavo Delgado and jockey Javier Castellano their first garland of roses. Capping a sad and tumultuous week at famed Churchill Downs, Mage — a grandson of 2007 Preakness champ Curlin and 2008 Derby winner Big Brown — stayed close to the lead throughout before finding a second wind down the stretch at Churchill Downs.
Delgado, who like Castellano is a native of Venezuela, could barely speak after his horse won. “When I come to the United States, my first dream (was) go to the Kentucky Derby!” Delgado said as a member of his entourage joyously waved a Venezuelan flag behind him.
Two Phil’s took the lead shortly after the far turn and appeared to be in winning position as the crowded field turned for home. That’s when Mage hit the accelerator, surged from the middle of the track to overtake Two Phil’s and win by a length.
“When he started making his move I felt really confident,” Delgado’s son and assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. said. “When Javier started to ask him, I knew he would sustain that move.”
Mage went off at 15-1, the eighth most popular pick of bettors in the field of 18. A $2 win bet returned $32.42 payoff.
|MAGE WINS THE 149th KENTUCKY DERBY
PRESENTED BY WOODFORD RESERVE
|Congratulations to Mage, jockey Javier Castellano, trainer Gustavo Delgado and all connections!
OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing, and CMNWLTH’s Mage rallied off a ferocious early pace to win Saturday’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1). The 15-1 shot gave trainer/co-owner Gustavo Delgado and Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano their first Derby win.
Two Phil’s ran a valiant second after racing in proximity to fast fractions set by Verifying, who retreated by the far turn. Kingsbarns briefly took up the baton, but Two Phil’s pounced and held the lead for a good way in the Churchill Downs stretch.
Then Mage, from the first crop of 2018 Derby runner-up Good Magic, stormed into the picture. Although Two Phil’s tried hard, he could not contain the momentum of Mage.
Driving clear, Mage completed the 1 1/4-mile classic in 2:01.57 and returned $32.42.
Two Phil’s saved runner-up honors from fast-closing favorite Angel of Empire. Disarm got up for fourth, and Hit Show rounded out the top five. Next came Derma Sotogake, Tapit Trice, Raise Cain, Rocket Can, Confidence Game, Sun Thunder, Mandarin Hero, Reincarnate, Kingsbarns, King Russell, Verifying, Jace’s Road and Cyclone Mischief.
Unraced at two, Mage defied the historical stats against that profile to win the Derby, like Justify (2018) did en route to his Triple Crown sweep. Mage impressed in his debut sprinting at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28. The chestnut was a creditable fourth on the step up to two turns and stakes company in the Fountain of Youth (G2), and he took another leap forward when nearly upsetting champion Forte in the Florida Derby (G1).
Forte, the longtime Derby favorite, was scratched Saturday morning. But Mage upheld the merit of his form while continuing his upward curve.
Castellano had ridden in 15 prior runnings of the Derby, but never finished closer than third, with Audible in 2018. A four-time Eclipse Award champion, Castellano has won the Preakness (G1) twice, with Bernardini (2006) and Cloud Computing (2017).
This Derby breakthrough is especially meaningful since Castellano was teaming up with fellow Venezuelan expat Delgado.
Bred by Grandview Equine in Kentucky, Mage is out of stakes winner Puca, a daughter of 2008 Derby and Preakness champion Big Brown. Mage emulated Big Brown’s rare feat of winning the Derby in just his fourth career start, like the great filly Regret (1915) and Justify.
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