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

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Mage, a 15-1 shot, 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 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.

The colt earned $1,860,000 for the biggest win of his brief career.

Mage, who didn't race as a 2-year-old, had only one win in three previous races, giving little indication that he could triumph against 17 rivals in a race that is not kind to the inexperienced. Still, he made a gutsy stretch run, overtaking Two Phil's to his inside and winning by a length.

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.

Mage joined Justify (2018), Big Brown (2008) and Regret (2015) as Derby winners with just three previous starts.

Castellano and trainer Gustavo Delgado are from Venezuela.

"I never give up," said the 45-year-old 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.

Going into the backstretch, Mage was ahead of just three horses. Castellano and Mage began picking off the competition and launched their run on the far turn.

"Turning for home, he had a lot of heart," Castellano said. "He's a little horse with a big heart."

Castellano previously had two wins in Triple Crown races. Both came in the Preakness Stakes -- aboard Bernardini in 2006 and Cloud Computing in 2017.

"I feel like I'm on top of the world," said Castellano, who also rode Webslinger to victory in the American Turf on Saturday. "If one thing has been consistent in my career, I never give up. ... I always tried to be positive and tried to find the right horse to participate in one of the biggest races in the world."

Two Phil's stormed to the lead at the top of the stretch. Mage swung to the outside and took aim on the leader. Mage passed him at the eighth-pole and went on to victory.

"Everything went according to plan," co-trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. said. "This is the dream I have, a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a note: 'We're going to win the Derby next year.'"

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

"Man, he tried so hard and ran his heart out," said Larry Rivelli, who trains Two Phil's.

Disarm was fourth, followed by Hit Show, Japan-based Derma Sotogake, Tapit Trice and Raise Cain, Rocket Can, Confidence Game, Sun Thunder, Japan's Mandarin Hero, Reincarnate, Kingsbarns, King Russell, Verifying, Jace's Road and Cyclone Mischief.

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. Earlier this year, Mage was fourth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.

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

"It's a very difficult subject to touch upon," said Ramiro Restrepo, part of Mage's ownership and a bloodstock agent. "I'm sure there's going to be some investigations done as to the reason behind that, and hopefully that provides a few more answers."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.