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Kentucky Derby highlights: Mystik Dan prevails in dramatic fashion

The 2024 Kentucky Derby was one for the history books as the 150th Run for the Roses came down to a photo finish at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

The first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown was won by Mystik Dan, who edged Sierra Leone by less than a nose at the finish line. Sierra Leone, along with Fierceness, was one of the field’s favorites among the 20-horse field.

The most exciting two minutes in sports wound up taking several more after officials had to gather to determine who crossed first between Mystik Dan and Sierra Leone, with third-place finisher Forever Young just another step behind. Forever Young came excruciatingly close to giving Japan its first Kentucky Derby win.

USA TODAY Sports provided analysis and highlights from Churchill Downs:

Mystik Dan won by a whisker. The key? One great ride.

Saturday, in the 150th Kentucky Derby, 38-year-old journeyman Brian Hernandez delivered one of the great human performances in the history of the race.

And the horse he rode wasn’t too bad, either.

With a rail-skimming ride that was practically perfect in its boldness and timing, Hernandez got 18-1 shot Mystik Dan home by a whisker over the surging Sierra Leone and Forever Young in a three-horse photo finish that left the Churchill Downs crowd of 156,710 initially wondering who had won America’s most famous horse race.

“(Hernandez) was the difference in winning and losing today, for sure,” trainer Kenny McPeek said.

Read Dan Wolken’s full column here.

Texas man wins nearly $60,000 on Mystik Dan

Dave Oblisk walked away from Churchill Downs with nearly $60,000 after placing 12 bets on Mystik Dan, the winner of the 150th Kentucky Derby.

After the photo finish between Mystik Dan, Sierra Leone and Forever Young, Oblisk was shaking, his family members said.

‘I’m still shaking!’ Oblisk, a resident of Austin, Texas, told the Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.

2024 Kentucky Derby official results

  • 1. Mystik Dan
  • 2. Sierra Leone
  • 3. Forever Young
  • 4. Catching Freedom
  • 5. T O Password
  • 6. Resilience
  • 7. Stronghold
  • 8. Honor Marie
  • 9. Endlessly
  • 10. Dornach
  • 11. Track Phantom
  • 12. West Saratoga
  • 13. Domestic Product
  • 14. Epic Ride
  • 15. Fierceness
  • 16. Society Man
  • 17. Just Steel
  • 18. Grand Mo The First
  • 19. Catalytic
  • 20. Just A Touch

What is Triple Crown in horse racing?

The Triple Crown refers to the three major races in American Thoroughbred horse racing. It consists of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. A horse that finishes first in all three races in the same year is said to have won the Triple Crown.

When is the 2024 Preakness Stakes?

The Preakness will be staged Saturday, May 18 from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET, with the post time expected to be around 6:50 p.m. National Treasure was last year’s winner of the Preakness.

2024 Kentucky Derby payouts

(Winnings based on a $2 bet unless otherwise noted)

  • 1. Mystik Dan: $39.22 to win; $16.32 to place; $10 for show
  • 2. Sierra Leone: $6.54 to place; $4.64 for show
  • 3. Forever Young: $5.58 for show

2024 Kentucky Derby top three

  • 1st place: Mystik Dan (trainer: Kenny McPeek)
  • 2nd place: Sierra Leone (trainer: Chad Brown)
  • 3rd place: Forever Young (trainer: Yoshito Yahagi)

Watch: Kentucky Derby photo finish

Trainer Kenny McPeek wins Kentucky Derby after winning Kentucky Oaks

Trainer Kenny McPeek had the winning horse in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks and then Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. No trainer has accomplished the feat since Ben Jones in 1952.

‘Just brilliant jockey and ride,’ McPeek said on the NBC broadcast immediately after the race. ‘The draw helped us from the beginning; we talked about that. I was shocked Dornach broke bad.

‘But (jockey) Brian (Hernandez Jr.) is amazing, probably one of the most underrated riders in racing. Not anymore.’

Hernandez won the Oaks on Thorpedo Anna on Friday at Churchill Downs before guiding Mystik Dan to the photo-finish win.

‘That was the longest few minutes I’ve ever felt in my life,’ he said on NBC immediately after the race. ‘It was exciting when we hit the line, but I wasn’t sure if we won, it was quite a rush to sit there and wait for it.’

Kentucky Derby winners since 2000

Here are the Kentucky Derby winners over the years, with the winning horse and the winning time in parentheses. Eventual Triple Crown winners are in bold.

2024 — Mystik Dan

2023 – Mage (2:01.57)

2022 – Rich Strike (2:02.61)

2021 – Mandaloun (2:01.36)

2020 – Authentic (2:00.61)

2019 – Country House (2:03.93)

2018 Justify (2:04:20)

2017 – Always Dreaming (2:03.59)

2016 – Nyquist (2:01.31)

2015 American Pharoah (2:03.02)

2014 – California Chrome (2:03.66)

2013 – Orb (2:02.89)

2012 – I’ll Have Another (2:01.83)

2011 – Animal Kingdom (2:02.04)

2010 – Super Saver (2:04.45)

2009 – Mine That Bird (2:02.66)

2008 – Big Brown (2:01.82)

2007 – Street Sense (2:02.17)

2006 – Barbaro (2:01.36)

2005 – Giacomo (2:02.75)

2004 – Smarty Jones (2:04.06)

2003 – Funny Cide (2:01.19)

2002 – War Emblem (2:01.13)

2001 – Monarchos (1:59.97)

2000 – Fusaichi Pegasus (2:01.00)

Mystik Dan wins 2024 Kentucky Derby

… and it’s Mystik Dan, at 18-1 odds, who crosses the finish line barely ahead of Sierra Leone to win the 150th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby starts

And they’re off …

Kentucky Derby start time

Why was Encino scratched from Kentucky Derby?

Lexington Stakes winner Encino was scratched from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby due to a soft tissue strain in his right leg, according to trainer Brad Cox.

Cox said the colt didn’t look right after training on Tuesday and was taken to a hospital in Lexington where X-rays revealed the diagnosis.

With Encino out of the race, Epic Ride will draw in from the also-eligible list and take the No. 20 spot in the starting gate. — Jason Frakes, Louisville Courier Journal

Churchill Downs capacity

When it’s race day, Churchill Downs is one of the most packed venues in sports. The venue hosts around 165,000 people for the Kentucky Derby, a majority of which are in the grandstands of the race track.

Latest Kentucky Derby odds

Odds as of 6:39 p.m. ET

  • Fierceness, 3-1
  • Sierra Leone, 9/2
  • Forever Young, 6-1
  • Catching Freedom, 8-1
  • Just a Touch, 11-1
  • Honor Marie, 14-1
  • Mystik Dan, 18-1
  • Just Steel, 21-1
  • Dornoch, 22-1
  • West Saratoga, 22-1
  • Domestic Product, 28-1
  • Resilience, 31-1
  • Catalytic, 34-1
  • Stronghold, 35-1
  • Track Phantom, 40-1
  • Epic Ride, 46-1
  • T O Password, 47-1
  • Endlessly, 47-1
  • Society Man, 47-1
  • Grand Mo The First, 48-1

Kentucky Derby TV coverage

The Kentucky Derby will be broadcast live on NBC, with coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Kentucky Derby live stream

For cord-cutters, the Kentucky Derby can be streamed on Peacock and Fubo.

Kentucky Derby field, odds

Post positions were drawn Saturday for the race. Here’s where each horse will start, in addition to the horse’s trainer, jockey and odds, according to BetMGM.

Here’s where each horse landed, in addition to the horse’s trainer, jockey and odds:

  • 1. Dornoch, Danny Gargan, Luis Saez, 20-1
  • 2. Sierra Leone, Chad Brown, Tyler Gaffalione, 3-1
  • 3. Mystik Dan, Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 20-1
  • 4. Catching Freedom, Brad Cox, Flavien Prat, 8-1
  • 5. Catalytic, Saffie Joseph Jr., José Ortiz, 30-1
  • 6. Just Steel, D. Wayne Lukas, Keith Asmussen, 20-1
  • 7. Honor Marie, Whit Beckman, Ben Curtis, 20-1
  • 8. Just a Touch, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 10-1
  • 9. T O Password, Daisuke Takayanagi, Kazushi Kimura, 30-1
  • 10. Forever Young, Yoshito Yahagi, Ryusei Sakai, 10-1
  • 11. Track Phantom, Steve Asmussen, Joel Rosario, 20-1
  • 12. West Saratoga, Larry Demeritte, Jesús Castañón, 50-1
  • 13. Endlessly, Michael McCarthy, Umberto Rispoli, 30-1
  • 14. Domestic Product, Chad Brown, Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1
  • 15. Grand Mo the First, Victor Barboza Jr., Emisael Jaramillo, 50-1
  • 16. Fierceness, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 5-2
  • 17. Stronghold, Phil D’Amato, Antonio Fresu, 20-1
  • 18. Resilience, Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado, 20-1
  • 19. Society Man, Danny Gargan, Frankie Dettori, 50-1
  • 20. Epic Ride, John Ennis, Adam Beschizza, 30-1

Epic Ride replaces Encino, which was officially scratched Tuesday. Mugatu is also eligible if another competitor scratches.

Kentucky Derby: On the ground at Churchill Downs

Our friends at the Louisville Courier Journal have on the ground updates from historic Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby attendance

There were a reported 156,710 people at Churchill Downs Saturday for the 150th Kentucky Derby.

Aaron Rodgers, Travis Kelce in attendance

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is at Churchill Downs and we heard straight from the horse’s mouth. The official X page for the Kentucky Derby shared a photo of Rodgers blending in with a crowd of patrons.

Earlier in the day, Rodgers said he’s interested in becoming an owner. When asked what he would name his horse, the QB offered up the name of his former Packers teammate, center Corey Linsley. “That boy’s got stamina,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers isn’t the only football player in the building. Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce took in the festivities at Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon. — Cydney Henderson

Where is the Kentucky Derby held?

How big is Churchill Downs?

Churchill Downs occupies 147 acres and it features a one-mile dirt, oval racetrack and a seven-furlong turf racecourse. It is also has barns behind the racetrack, which ‘house more than 1,400 horses each year,’ according to the facility.

How long is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is labeled ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports,” because it usually lasts about two minutes. In distance, the race is 1 ¼ miles long.

Race 1: Maiden Special Weight

Results of the first race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Pure Force (trainer: Brad Cox)
  • 2nd place: Top Gun Rocket
  • 3rd place: Culprit

Race 2: Allowance Optional Claiming

Results of the second race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Scylla (trainer: William Mott)
  • 2nd place: Secret Statement
  • 3rd place: Joke Sisi (CHI)

Race 3: Allowance Optional Claiming

Results of the third race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Mindframe (trainer: Todd Pletcher)
  • 2nd place: Cornishman
  • 3rd place: Higgins Boat

Kentucky Derby weather

Saturday’s forecast for Louisville calls for a high of 82 degrees with partly sunny skies, but scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to join the party, according to the National Weather Service. There’s a 40% probability of precipitation, mainly between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET, but it should be all clear by the 6:57 p.m. ET post time.

Race 4: Knicks Go Overnight Stakes

Results of the fourth race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Strong Quality (trainer: Mark Casse)
  • 2nd place: Kupuna
  • 3rd place: Five Star General

Kentucky Derby ticket prices

The available seating options to buy on Ticketmaster are infield general admission (standing room only with no track view), infield final turn general admission (standing room only with no track view), reserved seating, dining and premier dining. Frontside plaza walkaround seats are sold out. Here are the prices for each section on Ticketmaster:

  • Infield general admission: $130 ($135 with fees).
  • Infield final turn general admission: $320 ($387 with fees).
  • Reserved seating: $975 ($1,160 with fees).
  • Dining: $1,786 ($2,125 with fees).
  • Premier dining: $5,814 ($7,034 with fees).

How have Kentucky Derby favorites fared?

NBC political journalist Steve Kornacki broke down how the favorites have fared recently in the Derby. From 2013-2018, the favorites won every year.

Here’s how the betting favorites fared in the last five years:

  • 2023: Angel of Empire, 4-1, 3rd
  • 2022: Epicenter, 4-1, 2nd
  • 2021: Essential Quality, 5/2, 3rd*
  • 2020: Tiz The Law, 3/5, 2nd
  • 2019: Improbable, 4-1, 4th*

Note: After the disqualification of other horses, Essential Quality and Improbable’s finishes were officially recorded as 3rd and 4th place, respectively.

Race 5: Twin Spires Turf Sprint S

Results of the fifth race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Cogburn (trainer: Steven Asmussen)
  • 2nd place: Filo Di Arianna
  • 3rd place: Mischief Magic

Kentucky Derby 2023 winner

Mage, who didn’t even race as a 2-year-old and had one victory in three career starts, won the 2023 Kentucky Derby with 15-1 odds.

Jace’s Road, Reincarnate, and Kingsbarns broke out early from the pack, crossing the ¼ mile at 22:35. Coming down at the ½ mile mark, Verifying set the pace at 45.73, but at the top of the stretch, Two Phil’s bolted out to the lead, but the Mage came from the outside with long strides passing Two Phil’s on inside and won by a length, crossing the finish at 2:01.57.

The day was marred by the death of two horses. Freezing Point and Chloe’s Dream were euthanized after racing earlier in the day.

Race 6: Derby City Distaff S.

Results of the sixth race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Vahva (trainer: Cherie DeVaux)
  • 2nd place: Alva Starr
  • 3rd place: Flying Connection

How many races are there on Kentucky Derby day?

The 2024 Kentucky Derby is one of 14 races that will be held Saturday, making it one event – albeit easily the most high-profile – on a busy day at Churchill Downs.

The 2024 Kentucky Derby is the 12th race that will go off Saturday at Churchill Downs, beginning about 90 minutes after the preceding race, the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic. — Craig Meyer, USA TODAY Network

Kentucky Derby 2024 purse

The purse for this year’s Kentucky Derby has reached a staggering $5 million, which will be divided among the top five finishers. The winner will receive the largest portion of the prize pool, amounting to $3.1 million, while the runner-up will receive $1 million. The third-place finisher will receive a prize of $500,000.

Race 7: Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes

Results of the seventh race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Chili Flag (FR) (trainer: Chad Brown)
  • 2nd place: Coppice
  • 3rd place: Delahaye

Race 8: Pat Day Mile Stakes

Results of the eighth race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  • 1st place: Seize the Grey
  • 2nd place: Nash
  • 3rd place: Vlahos

Race 9: American Turf

Results of the ninth race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  1. Trikari
  2. Formidable Man
  3. Lagynos

Race 10: Churchill Downs Stakes

Results of the 10th race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  1. Gun Pilot
  2. Here Mi Song
  3. Zozos

Race 11: Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes

Results of the 11th race at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

  1. Program Trading
  2. Naval Power
  3. Webslinger

Kentucky Derby on NBC

On Saturday, NBC Sports and Churchill Downs announced an extension on their broadcasting partnership through 2032.

“As we celebrate the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is proud to extend the relationship with NBC Sports,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement. “As our media partner for the last 23 years, NBC has artfully captured the most exciting two minutes in sports and the spectacle of the senses that surrounds it.”

Forever Young looks to give Japan first Kentucky Derby win

It’s a small sample size, but Japan-breds are 0-for-4 at the Kentucky Derby since 2019, with Master Fencer (2019) and Derma Sotogake (2023) sharing the best finishes at sixth place.

Forever Young carries Japan’s hopes this year, and many believe the undefeated colt gives the country its best chance ever in the Kentucky Derby. — Jason Frakes, Louisville Courier Journal

Looking ahead to a superstar sprinter this summer

NBC used its Derby Day coverage to promote another big event, the Summer Olympics in Paris.

World champion sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson appeared in a spot with Cardi B talking about the Olympics, which begin July 26. Richardson is expected to be a medal contender in the women’s 100 meters, an event she won at last summer’s world championships in Budapest. At worlds, Richardson also won gold in the women’s 4×100 relay and bronze in the 200.

Saturday she told Cardi B to come to Paris to watch her sprint for Olympic gold.

“I will come just for you … and shopping,” Cardi B said.

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This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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