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Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. and Mystik Dan head to the winner's circle after the Kentucky Derby

2024 Kentucky Derby Results

Date: 05/04/2024

The 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve was contested on the first Saturday in May over the classic trip of 1 1/4 miles around the historic oval in Louisville, kicking off the Triple Crown series. Conditions were typical for early May for the 156,710 fans in attendance, with partly cloudy skies, a fast main track (which quickly dried out after Friday's rain), and a race time temperature of 76 degrees.

All-sources wagering on the Kentucky Derby race was a new record of $210.7 million, beating the previous record of $188.7 million set in 2023. All-sources handle for Derby Week rose to a new record of $446.6 million, beating last year’s record of $412.0 million. TwinSpires’ handle on the Kentucky Derby race was a new record of $60.9 million, beating last year’s record of $48.9 million, including all settled future wagers and affiliate wagering. As well, all-sources wagering from Japan on the Kentucky Derby race was a new record of $10.1 million, beating the previous record of $8.3 million in 2022. Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said, “The Kentucky Derby is a testament to the enduring spirit of sportsmanship, unity and the power of tradition. We were honored to debut our transformational new Paddock as we celebrated this milestone 150th Run for the Roses. The new Paddock has fundamentally enhanced the experience of all of our guests as they pass through our front gates and is a stepping stone to the next chapter of this time-honored event.”

22 horses made final entry (20 in the field and 2 also eligibles), but after Encino scratched out, first also-eligible Epic Ride drew in, with all spots in the 20-horse gate filled. As expected Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Fierceness was sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite off his 13-length romp in the Florida Derby (G1). In to challenge him included 9-2 second choice Sierra Leone, winner of the Risen Star (G2) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1), and 7-1 third choice Forever Young, representing Japan as the undefeated winner of both the Saudi Derby (G3) and UAE Derby (G2). Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Catching Freedom was the 17-2 fourth choice, with the rest of the field at double digit odds.
horse racing
Mystik Dan (rail) battling with Sierra Leone (middle) in the stretch as eventual 3rd place finisher and Forever Young rallies late.
When the gate opened at 7:02PM ET, jockey John Velazquez sent Fierceness to the front first time past the spires pressed by 21-1 Just Steel and stalked by 41-1 Track Phantom and 47-1 Epic Ride through an opening quarter of 22.97. On the clubhouse turn jockey Joel Rosario sent Track Phantom to lead through a half in 46.63 and 3/4 in 1:11.31, chased by Just Steel and Fierceness. Turning for home, the hot pace up front took its toll as the three pacesetters all tired late. 18-1 Mystik Dan, 8th early, was sent through on the inside to the lead through 1 mile in 1:37.46, and quickly opened up a 2 length lead midstretch under jockey Brian Hernandez. Sierra Leone, 18th early under Tyler Gaffalione, and Forever Young, 16th early under Ryusei Sakai, rallied together down the center of the track bumping several times, but Mystik Dan held off Sierra Leone to win by a nose in 2:03.34. It was another nose back to Forever Young third, in the first three-horse photo finish in Derby history since Jet Pilot, Phalanx and Faultless in 1947. Favorite Fierceness tired badly late to check in 15th beaten 24 1/2 lengths.  

There were seven other graded stakes races on the card (and one ungraded) before the Derby. Full results for all of them with more photos are here.

horse racing
Mystik Dan winning the Kentucky Derby
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 3   Mystik Dan         Hernandez    39.22   16.32  10.00
 2   Sierra Leone       Gaffalione            6.54   4.64
11   Forever Young      Sakai                        5.58

Winning Time:  2:03.34

$2 Exacta  3-2                 258.56
$1 Trifecta  3-2-11          1,113.84
$1 Superfecta  3-2-11-4      8,254.07
$1 Super Hi-5  3-2-11-4-10 316,920.10
$1 Oaks-Derby Double  5-3      118.43
Results chart from DRF           Video replay - from NBC Sports

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Mystik Dan heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Brian Hernandez Jr, celebrating his first Derby win said, "It still hasn't sunk in, it's so unbelievable. We came into the weekend thinking that we had a really big chance at winning both Friday and Saturday. For the horses to pull it off for us, we have to thank the guys back in the barn. It's definitely a surreal moment. The last 20 years I've ridden in Kentucky, and as a young kid out of Louisiana, I had the chance of sitting in the same corner as Calvin Borel. Watching him ride all those Derbys all those years, and today with Mystik Dan, being in the 3 hole, I watched a couple of his rides, with Super Saver and Mine That Bird, and I decided that we were going to roll the dice. That's the nice thing about Kenny (McPeek), he lets me make those decisions. We had the right kind of horse to give him that kind of trip."

Right: Mystik Dan enters the winner's circle. Winning co-owner Lance Gasaway said of his home state and its prep races, "Arkansas, I think going through the path, the Southwest Stakes, the Rebel, and the Arkansas Derby,  I think it's proven over the last five, seven years that we've had horses come through there and they have done well on the Derby trail. I think this just solidifies the horse racing we have in Arkansas, the quality of it. Brent, he's my first cousin. He's just family. Our dads are brothers."

Left: Mystik Dan hosed off after the race. Winning trainer Ken McPeek, celebrating his first Derby win said, "For three weeks, I've felt like we were going to win both races. I can't tell you why. Both horses have been easy to deal with, the team has done such a great job every day. There's been no drama. I just believe in mojo, in positive energy and we've had a lot of it."

Right: Mystik Dan heads back to the barn with his winner's blanket. Co-owner Sharilyn Gasaway said, "It is surreal for sure. We feel like we are just ordinary people and we have got just an amazing horse that God gave us. And I feel like that this horse, Kenny calls him an old soul because he's so chill. And if you watched him walking over to the paddock, he was so chill. Nothing spooks this horse. I was grazing him earlier this week. Races are going on. Nothing bothers him.  And I think he gets a lot of that from his mama. We are just so grateful and so blessed."

Left: The trophy celebration. McPeek is the first trainer to sweep the Oaks-Derby Double since Ben Jones in 1952. He said, "For three weeks, I felt like we were going to win both races. I can't tell you why. Both horses have been so easy to deal with. The team has done such a great job every day. There's been no drama. Lance and Sharilyn [Gasaway] have been wonderful people to have involved here. They came in and decided to absorb it all and enjoy it. I just believe in mojo. I believe in positive energy. And we had a lot of that. And, you know, we had two really, really good horses. Brian did an amazing job today. Just really honored and proud to be here."

Right: The celebration continues. Winning co-owner Lance Gasaway said, "To me, this is for him. And Dad (Clint Gasaway, who died 1 year ago today) would have loved it. He loved the game. He and I bought horses together. We have another one now with Kenny, Gould's Gold. That was the last horse we bought together, and Dad named him. I think that's going to be a good horse, too. It's a Goldencents colt. I'm just so happy, you know, for my family. I had all my family here. It's just a special day."

Left: Mystik Dan walks over from the barns to the paddock. McPeek added, "Having grown up around Keeneland all my life. I remember my grandfather took me to the races at Keeneland when I was boy. Learned how to read a pedigree. Used to go to the Keeneland library and read about good horses. Went to [University of Kentucky] and I read every [Blood Horse and Thoroughbred Record] ever printed when I was in college. I didn't do all that great in the other stuff. Look, I graduated, though, don't get that wrong. But, anyways, I was always interested in the breeding and how they were made. It's just been an amazing journey."

Right: Mystik Dan in the post parade. Hernandez added, "The nice thing about him, he leaves there sharp and then he listens to you. He comes right back to you. Just like today, he was able to break so sharp, which we needed to. In a 20 horse field like that, you can't break a little flat-footed because you are going to get shuffled around. When he broke as sharp as he did, he was just so nice and comfortable his whole way around there on the rail. I was smiling the whole time, because it's an amazing feeling when you have the horse under you and you know that they're going to go forward. When he turned for home and got the split, I was like, oh, wow, there is no way this is going to happen again. And he was able to hold them off. He was that good today."

Left: Second place finisher Sierra Leone returns after the race. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione said, "Everything was going to plan as the horse got into a good rhythm on the first turn as we were able to save ground. I got into a nice position and followed Forever Young and he started to make a good move. I decided to follow him and coming into the stretch, I felt like I had plenty of horse. He wanted to lean in today and made it a little difficult. I had a hard time keeping him straight and that definitely cost us. He gives you everything, very responsive but he loses concentration." Trainer Chad Brown added, "You get beat a nose in the Kentucky Derby, it's a tough one. But he's a tremendous horse, nearly undefeated. I'm just so lucky to have him, so proud of his effort today. He did what we asked him to do, just came up a little bit short."

Right: Third place finisher Forever Young returns after the race. Hiroshi Ando, racing manager for trainer Yoshito Yahagi said that owner Susumu Fukita "enjoyed the massive atmosphere and proud of his horse’s performance. How he ran his race made us so proud.” Asked why jockey Ryusei Sakai did not claim foul against Tyler Gaffalione for the bumping in the stretch, Ando added, “Claims of foul do not happen much in Japan. It is the stewards’ call, not us.”

Left: Fifteenth place finisher and beaten favorite Fierceness in the post parade. Jockey John Velazquez said, "His first jump was not very good. His second and third jump he was OK. He got pretty aggressive since I had to give him a nudge out of there. The horses on the outside put the pressure on and then he got into the bridle. I tried to keep him as settled as much without letting doing too much but he was already engaged. When I let him go, he just didn't have it."

Right: The start of the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1). Flavien Prat aboard fourth place finisher Catching Freedom (4) said, "I was traveling well and had a chance to cut every corner and save all the ground. I was behind the winner turning for home and had a good run." Trainer Brad Cox added, “Overall I was very happy with Catching Freedom’s effort, I really was and the ride Flavien (Prat) gave him. We’ll regroup, not sure where we’ll land.”

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