- The 2023 Kentucky Derby took place on May 6, 2023.
- Mage, ridden by Javier Castellano, won the race.
- The field dropped down to 18 after five horses were scratched from the race.
The 149th Kentucky Derby will go down in the history books, for better or for worse. The May 6 event was attended by celebrities — Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, Jack Harlow, Chris Pine, Dannielle Birkhead, and Bobby Flay – and regular folk, all gathered to see which horse will come out on top after “The Fastest Two Minutes In Sports.” After a few days of dark clouds – metaphorically – the race held off the literal rainclouds as eighteen thoroughbred horses hit the track at Churchill Downs. In the end, it was Mage who defeated seventeen other horses to win the day. It was a close race at the end, with Mage pulling out and securing the win in a dramatic finish!
MAGE (17/1) WINS the 149th Kentucky Derby! 🏆
— NBC Sports EDGE Betting (@NBCSportsBet) May 6, 2023
It was a marvelous race that, for a moment, warded off the tragedy and drama that surrounded this year’s race. For more information about the winner and what they had to go through to get to the winner’s circle, whip up another mint julep and read on.
Mage Won The 2023 Kentucky Derby
Mage will be considered a “rookie” in terms of horseracing. He had only run three races before the 2023 Derby: The Florida Derby (where he finished second), the Fountain of Youth Derby (finished fourth), and the Maiden derby (which he won.)
He was trained by Gustavo Delgado and is partially owned by South Florida’s Ramiro Restrepo. He’s one of five owners – five owners whose horse just won the Kentucky Derby!
Mage wins the Kentucky Derby! pic.twitter.com/B0oGlHDTyD
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 6, 2023
Their Jockey Is Javier Castellano
This win caps off an incredible career for Javier Castellano. The 45-year-old rider began racing horses in 1996 in his native Venezuela. He’s a second-generation jockey and racing runs in the family. His father, uncle, and brother have all been jockeys. Javier was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2017.
His career includes wins at the Preakness Stakes in 2006 and 2017, the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2004, and the Kentucky Oaks in 2016. He was on Cloud Computing when he won Preakness in 2017 and has ridden horses like Shaman Ghost, Honor Code, and Bellamy Road.
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 6, 2023
The Odds Weren’t In His Favor.
With so much drama heading into the race – including the odds-on favorite dropping out, more on that soon – the odds for the 2023 Kentucky Derby were in total chaos until the final closing on Saturday morning. Here’s what the winner and the rest of the field’s odds were, per CNN. (However, Mage’s odds after the win were listed as 15-1. meaning that even though he was a longshot, his odds improved.)
- Hit Show 26/1
- Verifying 17/1
- Two Phil’s 7/1
- Confidence Game 16/1
- Tapit Trice 9/2
- Kingsbarns 10/1
- Reincarnate 13/1
- Mage 17/1*
- Disarm 24/1
- Jace’s Road 32/1
- Sun Thunder 30/1
- Angel of Empire 9/2
- Raise Cain 30/1
- Derma Sotogake 7/1
- Rocket Can 27/1
- Cyclone Mischief 32/1
- Mandarin Hero 21/1
- King Russell 32/1
They Won The Derby With The Most Scratches In Nearly 90 Years.
If the above didn’t make it clear, the 2023 Kentucky Derby ran with 18 horses total, down from the usual field of 20. This reduced field comes after Forte, the 3-1 favorite to win, became the fifth horse to ‘scratch’ – aka to be withdrawn – from the race. Churchill Downs said Forte co-owner Mike Repole attributed the scratch to state veterinarians’ worries over a bruised right foot, per The Washington Post.
Practical Move withdrew due to an elevated temperature. Continuar was pulled for lack of fitness. Skinner pulled out due to an elevated temperature, and Lord Miles was pulled in part to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. being indefinitely suspended – more on that in a bit. These scratches allowed Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero, and King Russell to compete in the Kentucky Derby, but the field was still reduced to 18 horses. Overall, it’s the most scratches in a Kentucky Derby since 1936.
It’s believed that the Derby with the most scratches is 1933’s. In the past twenty-three years, only ten races have run with a full field.
…But All Horses Coming Out Of The 2023 Derby Are Winners.
Racehorse trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was suspended indefinitely on May 4 after two horses he trained died suddenly from, as of the time of publication, unknown causes. “The suspension prohibits Joseph, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Joseph, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all [Churchill Downs Inc.]-owned racetracks,” the organization said in a statement on Thursday, per CNN. “CDI’s decision follows the highly unusual sudden deaths of two horses trained by Joseph at Churchill Downs racetrack: Parents Pride on Saturday and Chasing Artie on Tuesday.”
This is why Lord Miles was pulled from the race. CDI had “reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses,” and suspended him “until details are analyzed and understood.”
Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, unfortunately, weren’t the only horses who died in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby. There were six confirmed deaths going into the race. Wild On Ice, another Kentucky Derby contender, was hurt while training on Apr. 27. Take Charge Briana was injured during a race on May 2. Both were “euthanized for humane reasons,” claimed Churchill Downs.
Chloe’s Dream was injured during an undercard race on Saturday. “He just took a bad step out there,” trainer Jeff Hiles said to the Associated Press. “They could do the same thing running in the field as they could on the track. So it’s very unfortunate. That’s what we deal with.”
Racehorse Freezing Point was also injured during their undercard race and was euthanized. “It doesn’t make me happy to see a horse get euthanized,” said racegoer Joe Conforto, per AP. “But I think a lot of it is bad luck. Most racehorses are taken better care of than human beings.”
The deaths and suspension come just weeks before the governing body of horse racing is about to enact new anti-doping and medication rules. Infamously, Medina Spirit crossed the finish line first at the 2021 Kentucky Derby but was stripped of the win after failing a post-race drug test. Medina Spirit died later that year after a workout at a track in Southern California, per NPR.