Mystik Dan wins 150th running of Kentucky Derby in photo finish

Mystik Dan won the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday in a three-horse photo finish.

Sierra Leone came in second and Forever Young came in third.

In the past, gloomy skies and occasional raindrops gave way to blue skies and sunshine. The dirt surface was upgraded to fast a few hours before the race, after it was muddy to start the day’s ticket.

Before the race, Fierceness was the 7-2 favorite, followed by Sierra Leone at 5-1. Forever Young, from Japan, was at 6-1, followed by Catching Freedom at 8-1 and Just a Touch at 10-1.

The most expensive foal in the 20-horse field was Sierra Leone at $2.3 million, which came in second.

“Often you buy such an expensive horse and they can’t run,” said Peter Brandt before the race. He is one of six owners. “We are very lucky that he has made it this far. We are looking forward to this race, but also looking forward to the future of caring for this horse.”

Conversely, Larry Demeritte paid only $11,000 to purchase 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 only the second black trainer since 1951 to saddle a horse for the derby.

“This is really amazing how we got to this position with this horse,” he said.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby will earn $3.1 million from the record $5 million purse.

Sierra Leone with jockey Tyler Gaffalione (2), Forever Young with jockey Ryusei Sakai and Mystik Dan with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., cross the finish line at Churchill Downs during the 150th Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, May 4, 2024.

Sierra Leone with jockey Tyler Gaffalione (2), Forever Young with jockey Ryusei Sakai and Mystik Dan with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., cross the finish line at Churchill Downs during the 150th Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, May 4, 2024.

Forever Young is one of two entries from Japan. The other is TO password. The country has never won the race.

Once again this year the race was one for all ages. D. Wayne Lukas, the 88-year-old trainer with four Kentucky Derby victories, saddled Just Steel. Frankie Dettori, the famous Italian jockey, returned to Society Man at the age of 53 after an absence of 24 years.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Fierceness, was in the Kentucky Derby for the 24th year and there is never a dull moment. He won it twice.

“It just gets more nerve-wracking,” he said.