LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mage, beaten by the scratched Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Forte in the Florida Derby, emerged victorious in the 149th Kentucky Derby on Saturday night under cloudy skies at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by Javier Castellano, Mage pulled away from the pack at 15-1 odds in the frontstretch and never looked back.

Both Delgado and Castellano are from Venezuela.

“Gracias Venezuela, te quiero mucho,” Castellano said on NBC after the race.

Delgado was previously 18th in the 2016 Derby and 13th in the 2019 Derby.

Castellano was 0 for 15 in previous Derby rides, having managed a lone third-place finish as his best result.

Mage is owned by OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH. This large ownership group includes Ramiro Restrepo, a Miami native who grew up going to horse races at Gulfstream Park in Florida, where Mage had all of his prior three starts. Delgado heads up OGMA Investments, which is a horse racing partnership. CMNWLTH is a company that sells shares to back an athlete’s or horse’s career.

The 3-year-old, who had never raced at Churchill Downs before, fought off efforts from Two Phil’s in second and Angel of Empire, one of the race favorites, in third.

The early lead in the race was assumed by Verifying on the inside, who was closely followed by Kingsbarns and Reincarnate.

The opening half-mile was run in 45.73 seconds, and the opening mile of the Derby arrived in 1.36.06, a much brisker pace than was expected.

Mage won the Kentucky Derby in only his fourth career start.

Mage was 15th on the Kentucky Derby qualifying leaderboard with 50 points.

He now owns a career record of 2-1-0 in his four career starts, and this was his first victory since he won a Maiden Special Weight race at Gulfstream Park in January.

All four of Mage’s starts came this year.

His sire, Good Magic, also had Reincarnate in Saturday’s race, and Good Magic himself showed a knack for the Derby distance of one-and-a-quarter miles.

Good Magic was second in the 2018 race.

Mage was bred in Kentucky by Grandview Equine, and was sold for $235,000 to New Team at the 2021 Keeneland Association September Yearling Sale. He was then sold for $290,000 to OGMA Investments at 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

Before Saturday, he had earned $247,200 in his career.

This year’s Kentucky Derby defined by deaths, scratches

The narrative that’s shaped the 149th Kentucky Derby — and the one that will likely stick with it — is centered around deaths, injuries and other incidents that led to the scratches of Derby contenders.

Forte became just the second morning-line favorite in Derby history to scratch on the day of the race when he was removed from the field on Saturday morning at the behest of Dr. Nicholas Smith, the chief veterinarian of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Earlier in the week, four other horses scratched out of the race following Monday’s post-position draw.

These five scratches represented the most out of the Derby since 1936. All three also-eligibles for the race moved into the field by Thursday night.

Additionally, expected Derby contender Wild On Ice was euthanized last week after suffering a leg injury during training at Churchill Downs.

Horse deaths have come to define the opening days of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet, which began last Saturday.

Seven horses have died at Churchill Downs since the start of the Spring Meet, with the last two coming during Derby Day undercard races.

Chloe’s Dream, who ran in the second race Saturday at Churchill Downs, was vanned off and euthanized after failing to finish the race. Freezing Point encountered the same fate after the eighth race.

Another horse, Here Mi Song, left the track in an equine ambulance after Saturday’s 10th race, the Churchill Downs Stakes, but was later confirmed OK by The Associated Press.

The attendance for 2023 Derby Day was 150,335 people. Last year’s Derby Day attendance was 147,294.