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Arkansan owners of Mystik Dan look back on big Kentucky Derby win

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It was a photo finish to decide the 150th Kentucky Derby, coming down to a three-horse race. Mystik Dan won it by a nose, leaving plenty of Arkansans celebrating.

The 150th champion has strong Arkansas ties, with its owners, the Gasaways and Hambys, coming from the Natural State.

Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan has Arkansas ties

Sharilyn Gasaway, one of the owners, said it is Mystik Dan’s personality that sets him apart. She pointed to his calmness, of all things, that makes him different.

“Our trainer calls him an old soul,” Gasaway said. “When it was time for the walkover, he was cool, calm as could be. I think that played to his advantage.”

Gasway said Mystik Dan is one of them, a family member, just as all of the horses they own are.

He’s also their first-ever Kentucky Derby winner. In a video circulated on social media, Gasaway can be seen full of nerves and excitement in those final moments of the race. For a few seconds, she was not sure if the winner was her horse or if it was Sierra Leone, who was quite literally neck and neck with Mystik Dan.

“You see a moment in the video where I have this look on my face like, ‘Oh my gosh did we get there?’ and the other owners of Sierra Leone are jumping up and down, and then they’re quiet, and then we were jumping up and down,” Gasaway recalled.

Ever since Mystik Dan was announced as the winner, it has been nothing but excitement and gratitude for the Gasaways and Hambys.

“What a dream come true,” Gasaway said. “What a blessing to win the 150th. Honestly, I don’t know, but for some reason, I just had faith about this particular horse. I had a faith about it.”

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The win also came on a significant day for the Gasaway family.

Clint Gasaway, who initially got the family into racehorses, died a year to the day of the Kentucky Derby win, marking this as the family’s first big championship victory and the first year without the leader of their pack.

Gasaway said the years leading up to this moment, and the moment itself, were nothing short of God having his hand in every step of the way.

“He really went before us,” Gasaway said. “We’re just amazed.”

  • Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
    Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
  • Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
    Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
  • Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
    Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
  • Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
    Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
  • Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
    Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
  • Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway
    Courtesy of Sharilyn Gasaway

In these first few days following the race, it’s back home and tending to the retired racehorses in their backyard stable for Gasaway. She emphasized that it is not just racing they have a heart for, but the animals themselves.

“They make me very happy, and the love that they give you back is just amazing,” Gasaway said. “I really do feel a connection to them.”

Kentucky Derby victory aboard Mystik Dan provides signature win for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.

Gasaway said many are asking what the next step is for their family, specifically Mystik Dan following this big win.

The horse’s trainer is still determining his recovery rate and if he could be ready for Preakness, the next significant race in two weeks. Gasaway said the next big race, Belmont, which is a few weeks after, is a realistic step they will take, whether they compete in Preakness or not.

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