The 149th running of the Kentucky Derby took place Saturday at the famed Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. After a week marred by numerous deaths of horses on the track and several scratches for the Derby, the big race thankfully went off without incident and provided one of the more thrilling finishes in recent history.
Mage, the undersized, Kentucky-born thoroughbred, came in at 15-1 odds, which coincidentally is exactly how many Derby trips winning jockey Javier Castellano needed to finally make it to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.
Castellano, the 45-year-old Venezuelan native, wasted little time post-race giving praise and thanks to God. Via Breitbart, this is what he had to say post-race: “First of all, Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to win the Derby – the dream trip for any jockey, trainer, any horses in the industry of racing. “I never give up, I always try hard, do the right thing. It took me a little while to get there but finally I got it. I’ve been blessed.”
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Owners: OGMA Investments LLC / Ramiro Restrepo / Sterling Racing LLC / Cmnwlth
Final Time: 2:01”2 (1 1/4 Miles) • Dirt
Kentucky Derby 2023 #ChurchillDowns Saturday, May 06, 2023
— Gustavo Delgado S (@GDS_Racing) May 7, 2023
Mage, a decided underdog at 15-1 and coming out of post position 8, was pushed to the back of the field almost immediately. Still, Castellano got his dream trip as he weaved and worked his smaller horse through traffic and pulled wide of Two Phil’s and Angel of Empire as it appeared that they would be headed toward a photo-finish. Once summoned, Mage found that extra gear that Castellanos asked for, and the rest is Derby history. Castellano added: “And truly, to give me the opportunity, the horse, the way he did it today,” Castellano said. “The little Mage, he did really well today. He’s got a lot of heart. It’s a little horse but big heart.”
It’s ironic that Castellano, 4’11, himself called Mage small, but he knew what he had in the undersized horse, and he knew exactly when to ask for it. As the bigger horses were running out of gas at the longer distance the Derby features, Castellano knew Mage’s gas light wasn’t even on yet and exactly when to go to the crop to get the rest out of the home-state horse. It was a spectacular trip by both jockey and horse.
“First of all, thank you Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to win the Derby.”
Javier Castellano gives praise where it’s due after winning first Kentucky Derby
(📺 – NBC Sports) pic.twitter.com/OayiIpTavx
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) May 6, 2023
Castellano’s brother Abel took to social media in his excitement as well, once again giving praise to God: “My brother Won’t the Kentucky Derby wow!!,’ he wrote in obvious excitement. God is great. [Praise] lord Jesus.’
It was an obvious confluence of events that led to Castellano and Mage taking the winner’s circle. An excellent trip by the jockey and a measured, calm trip from the horse was aided by a thinned-out field after numerous scratches led to a smaller-than-usual running.
In the end, though, it was Castellano and Mage that pulled out the victory. In an era where athletes are often criticized for speaking of God and Jesus or daring to give God thanks or credit, it is refreshing to see someone like Javier Castellano get his moment. Someone who has done things the right way and gives part of the credit to the man upstairs, where it belongs, must be a more common theme in sports.
Featured image screen grab from embedded Tweet
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