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Goldencents’ Mystik Dan wins historic running of the Kentucky Derby (G1)

May 5, 2024

Mystik Dan (far right) holds off Sierra Leone (far left) and Forever Young (red hood) to win the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) - Nicole Smith

Mystik Dan (far right) holds off Sierra Leone (far left) and Forever Young (red hood) to win the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) – Nicole Smith

Mystik Dan prevailed in what was one of the closest Kentucky Derby (G1) finishes in history Saturday at Churchill Downs when he triumphed by a nose over Sierra Leone and Forever Young (JPN).

With the win in the $5 million Run for the Roses, Mystik Dan became Goldencents’ third million-dollar earner and his second Grade 1 winner, along with turf star Going to Vegas. The big payday also moved Goldencents up to fifth on this year’s General Sire list with $6.2 million in progeny earnings. Goldencents’ 76 individual winners this year is second only to Into Mischief among all top-10 sires.

Mystik Dan, who came into the Derby off a third in the March 30 Arkansas Derby (G1), broke from post three in the field of 20 going the 1 ¼-miles. He veered to the outside slightly at the break, but jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. quickly righted him and secured a spot along the rail. With a quartet of horses battling for the lead in the first quarter-mile, Mystik Dan settled nicely behind quick early fractions of :22.97 and :46.63.

The bay colt maintained his position on the backstretch and into the turn, then crept up just behind Track Phantom outside the quarter pole. With a daring move at the top of the stretch, Mystik Dan pushed his way between Track Phantom and the rail to take the lead. He opened up by two lengths in mid-stretch, then dug in with all he had to hold off Sierra Leone and Forever Young on the wire.

“For three weeks, I’ve felt like we were going to win both races,” trainer Ken McPeek, who won Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) as well, said after Mystik Dan was declared the winner of the tight photo finish. “I can’t tell you why. Both horses have been easy to deal with, the team has done such a great job every day. [Mystik Dan’s co-owners] Lance and Sharilyn [Gasaway] have been wonderful people to have involved here. They came in and decided to absorb it all and enjoy it. I just believe in mojo. I believe in positive energy. And we had a lot of that. And, you know, we had two really, really good horses. Brian did an amazing job today. Just really honored and proud to be here.”

Mystik Dan is owned by the Gasaways along with Daniel Hamby and 4G Racing, who bred the colt in Kentucky with Valley View Farm LLC. Winner of the Southwest S. (G3) earlier this year as well, Mystik Dan is now 3-1-1 in seven starts and has earned $3,741,360.

Mystik Dan is out of Ma’am, a Colonel John mare that the partners had raced. The breeding to Goldencents proved to be the perfect match.

“Kenny’s the one who suggested it,” Sharilyn Gasaway said.

As far as the May 18 Preakness, McPeek was non-committal at this point.

“We’re not committing,” McPeek said. “When I ran him back in two weeks (at Churchill Downs last November), it completely backfired. And we skipped the Rebel (at Oaklawn Park) because it was too short as well. So we’ll watch him over the next week, and probably decide then. It will be a last-minute decision. We’ll let him tell us.”