Mage Crosses finish 1st in Kentucky Derby amid 7th death


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Two more horses died in the hours before Mage crossed the finish line first in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, making it seven overall and casting a shadow over the 149th running of the world’s most famous race.

Mage had just one win before covering 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.57 under jockey Javier Castellano.

Two Phil’s and Angel of Empire followed Mage to the finish line.


Two other horses died, seven in all, ahead of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby and early favorite Forte was scratched in yet another series of shots with an injury in a sport already plagued by doping bans and misses.

“That’s part of racing and it’s the cruel part,” Forte co-owner Mike Repole said in an interview with FanDuel TV.

Chloe’s Dream, a 3-year-old gelding, and Freezing Point, a 3-year-old colt, were injured while racing in the Undercard Derby, becoming the sixth and seventh horses to die at Churchill Downs in recent days. strength was the fifth scratch from the derby ahead of the $3 million 3-year-old race.

The string of horse deaths was a tragedy for some Derby-goers on a mostly overcast and warm day.

“It’s concerning and I hope they quickly try their best to correct what’s going on,” said Michael Freeze, who dressed up as jockeys along with his friend. “You have to do what is best for the horses and the sport in general.”

“He just made a bad move out there,” Hiles said. “You could do the same thing on the field as you could on the track. So very unfortunate. That’s what we’re dealing with.”

Freezing Point suffered a left ankle injury on the Pat Day Mile and was euthanized, trainer Joe Lejzerowicz told AP. He said Fort Bragg, who was third, came over and slammed into Freezing Point during the race.

“He was just hit on the back straight,” said Lejzerowicz. “He never took a bad step or wobbled. He had a big heart.”

New Anti-Doping and Medication Regulations Enforced by a central governing body of the sport, these are set to come into effect on May 22nd.

“There’s something going on there,” said Pat Murtha, who was taking part in his first derby. “You have to find out and make some rules and regulations to protect these animals.”

Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert, a two-time Triple Crown winner, is nearing the end of a two-year suspension imposed by Churchill Downs Inc. One of his horses, Medina Spirit, crossed the finish line first in the 2021 Derby and failed a post-race drug test. The horse was disqualified and Baffert was penalized.

In 2019, over 30 horse fatalities occurred at Santa Anita, California, rocking the industry and prompting safety reforms. Kentucky Derby winner Rick Dutrow had his license suspended for 10 years by New York officials in 2011. Regulators found syringes containing unapproved drugs in a desk in his barn. Dutrow reopened his stable last month.

Repole said vets from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission diagnosed Forte with a bruised foot. He said the stallion got the bruise a few days ago. The stallion stumbled during a practice session on Thursday, although trainer Todd Pletcher publicly downplayed it.

Behind the scenes was a different story.

“We did X-rays, we called in vets, the state vets came in and they watched him every day,” Repole said in the interview. “He’s fine. He’ll probably need a few more days (to recover).”

Pletcher has two horses left in the Derby: Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns.

Around 150,000 people are expected to crowd into Churchill Downs to bet and watch the derby. Post time is 6:57 p.m. EDT.

The horse fatalities included Derby contender Wild On Ice. Two of the horses were trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. He has been suspended from the track indefinitely, although investigators have yet to determine a cause of his horses’ deaths.

“It doesn’t make me happy to see a horse being euthanized,” said race-goer Joe Conforto, who wore jockey goggles and a stuffed horse on his head. “But I think a lot of that is bad luck. Most racehorses are better taken care of than humans.”

Four horses have been scratched in the last few days – Practical Move, Lord Miles, Continuar and Skinner. Practical Move and Skinner were running fevers, while Continuar was not in top form, according to his Japanese trainer. Lord Miles was Joseph’s Derby horse.

Forte was last year’s 2-year-old champion and is on a five-race win streak.

AP sportswriter Gary B. Graves and AP national writer Claire Galofaro contributed to this report.

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