Mage wins 149th Kentucky Derby under shadow of horse deaths

Mage wins the 149th Kentucky Derby in 2023.
Mage wins the 149th Kentucky Derby in 2023. Sam Mallon/Getty Images
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The "Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" lived up to its name on Saturday, as Mage won the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

A three-year-old colt, Mage went into the race with 15-1 odds. He was able to cross the finish line first with a time of 2:01.57 under jockey Javier Castellano, winning by a length following a push into the stretch. Having won the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, Mage will now look to the Preakness Stakes.

Mage's victory comes after a series of controversies have stricken the past few Derbys, and this year's festivities as well. The favorite of the race, Forte, was scratched with a bruised foot the morning of the race, a devastating blow to the horse who was ranked a 3-to-1 favorite to win the Run for the Roses. A series of deaths also plagued the Derby before the race, with two other horses, Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point, being euthanized following injuries. The pair became the sixth and seventh horses to have died at Churchill Downs recently.

Beyond these deaths, renewed calls for investigations into doping with Thoroughbred horse racing have also come to light. This is especially true following the death of Medina Spirit, a 2021 Kentucky Derby racer, who succumbed to a heart attack seven months after winning the race. Medina Spirit had originally won that year's Derby, but had his victory disqualified after failing a post-race drug test. The horse's trainer, Bob Baffert, was also banished from the sport for two years.

One fan who was attending this year's race told The Associated Press"There's something going on. They need to find out, and set some rules and regulations to protect these animals." A new set of regulatory rules for anti-doping are set to be implemented on May 22.

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