SPORTS

Mystik Dan Wins 150th Kentucky Derby By Nose In 3-Horse Photo Finish

May 4, 2024, 6:29 PM

Mystik-Dan-Kentucky-Derby-2024...

Mystik Dan #3, ridden by jockey Brian J. Hernandez Jr. crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 04, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Mystik Dan won the 150th Kentucky Derby in a three-horse photo finish, edging out Sierra Leone by a nose with Forever Young third in the tightest finish since 1996 on Saturday.

Sent off at 18-1 odds, Mystik Dan and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the rail down the stretch with a short lead. Sierra Leone, the second choice at 9-2 odds, and Forever Young from Japan gave chase and pressured the leader to the wire in front of 156,710 at Churchill Downs.

It was just the 10th Kentucky Derby decided by a nose — the closest margin in horse racing — and the first since Grindstone wore the garland of red roses in 1996.

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

“The longest few minutes of my life,” Hernandez said, after he and the bay colt walked in circles while the stunning result was settled. “To see your number flash up to win the Derby, I don’t think it will sink in for a while.”

Fierceness, the 3-1 favorite, finished 15th in the field of 20 3-year-olds.

Mystik Dan ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.34 and paid $39.22, $16.32 and $10.

Hernandez and trainer Kenny McPeek had teamed for a wire-to-wire win in the Kentucky Oaks for fillies on Friday with Thorpedo Anna. McPeek is the first trainer to sweep both races since Ben Jones in 1952 and the fourth overall.

McPeek’s only other victory in a Triple Crown race was also a shocker: 70-1 Sarava won the 2002 Belmont Stakes — the biggest upset in that race’s history. The colt spoiled the Triple Crown bid of War Emblem.

Sierra Leone returned $6.54 and $4.64. Forever Young was another nose back in third and paid $5.58 to show.

Sierra Leone lugged in and bumped Forever Young three times in the stretch, but jockey Ryusei Sakai didn’t claim foul.

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Mystik Dan Wins 150th Kentucky Derby By Nose In 3-Horse Photo Finish