Mystik Dan wins 150th Kentucky Derby by a nose in a 3-horse photo finish at Churchill Downs

Sent off at 18-1 odds, Mystik Dan and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the rail down the stretch with a short lead.
Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Mystik Dan
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-04 11:00:04-04

Mystik Dan won the 150th Kentucky Derby in a photo finish, edging out Forever Young and Sierra Leone for the upset victory.

Sent off at 18-1 odds, Mystik Dan and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the rail down the stretch with a short lead. Forever Young from Japan and Sierra Leone gave chase and pressured the leader to the wire in front of 156,710 at Churchill Downs.

The crowd waited several minutes before the result was reviewed by the stewards and declared official.

Hernandez and trainer Kenny McPeek had teamed to win the Kentucky Oaks for fillies on Friday with Thorpedo Anna.

Mystik Dan ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.34 and paid $39.22 to win.

Twenty horses stampeded toward the first turn in a battle for position. A screaming crowd of 150,000 — and some forecast showers that were anticipated to dampen the Churchill Downs dirt strip.

Fans were there for the 150th Kentucky Derby. Beyond a couple of early wagering favorites, it was a wide-open race.

The Derby was to answer the perennial question on Saturday of which 3-year-old can best handle running 1 1/4 miles in front of the biggest crowd they will ever see and hear.

And that turned out to be Mystik Dan.

The costliest colt in the 20-horse field was Sierra Leone at $2.3 million.

"A lot of times you buy an expensive horse like that and they can't run," said Peter Brandt, one of the six owners. "We're very, very lucky he's made it this far. We're looking forward to this race but also looking forward to the future of taking care of this horse."

Conversely, Larry Demeritte shelled out just $11,000 to buy Saratoga West. The 74-year-old Bahamas native has won 180 races and nearly $5 million in purse money since he started training in 1984. Demeritte is just the second Black trainer since 1951 to saddle a horse for the derby.

"This is truly amazing how we got to this position with this horse," he said.

The Derby winner was expected to earn $3.1 million from the record purse of $5 million.

For the second straight year, Japan had two entries: Forever Young and T O Password. The country has never won the race.

This year's race was one for the ages, too. D. Wayne Lukas, the 88-year-old trainer with four derby wins, saddled Just Steel. Frankie Dettori, the famed Italian jockey, was back riding Society Man at age 53 after a 24-year absence.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Fierceness, was in the derby for the 24th year. He's won it twice.

"If anything, it just becomes more nerve-wracking," he said.