What happened to Fierceness, West Saratoga and all the other 2024 Kentucky Derby also-rans?

The finish of the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby was worthy of the Run for the Roses historic milestone.

Mystik Dan held off a late charge from Sierra Leone and Forever Young to win in a photo finish after going off at 18-1 odds. Mystik Dan gave Lexington-based trainer Kenny McPeek his first Kentucky Derby victory and gave McPeek the first Derby-Kentucky Oaks double for a trainer since 1952.

What happened to everybody else in the field? Here’s a look.

The other horses in the photo finish

With Mystik Dan leading at the final turn, Blue Grass Stakes winner Sierra Leone, who was 17th at the first turn, and Forever Young, who was in the middle of the pack early, made a late charge from the outside. That charge came just short with a photo finish confirming Mystik Dan had just edged out Sierra Leone.

“You get beat a nose in the Kentucky Derby, it’s a tough one,” Sierra Leone’s trainer, Chad Brown, said. “But he’s a tremendous horse, nearly undefeated. I’m just so lucky to have him, so proud of his effort today.

“He did what we asked him to do, just came up a little bit short. (I didn’t think I won) watching it live, but then when they started showing the slo-mo, I thought maybe this could be a dead heat because I got a great bob. I just wasn’t in front.”

Forever Young finished third, just missing becoming the first Japan-bred horse to win the Derby.

Catching Freedom finishes fourth

Brad Cox-trained Catching Freedom took a similar path to Mystik Dan, emerging from the pack along the rail in the final turn but was passed down the stretch by Sierra Leone and Forever Young.

“Overall I was very happy with Catching Freedom’s effort,” Cox said. “I really was and the ride Flavien (Prat) gave him. We’ll regroup, not sure where we’ll land.”

T O Password, the other Japan-bred horse in the field, was never in contention for the win but made a late charge to finish fifth.

“He didn’t break well,” jockey Kazushi Kimura said. “This was his third time running and he was in a new country. He probably wasn’t 100% mature. Today he finished up strong. I hope the horse can stay for the Preakness.”

The field of horses runs down the front stretch for the first time during the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
The field of horses runs down the front stretch for the first time during the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The favorite looked in good position early

Florida Derby winner Fierceness, the 3-1 race favorite, jumped out of the gate but recovered to be among a four-wide pack leading at the first turn. Fierceness was still in third with four furlongs to go.

After Mystik Dan made his charge to the lead along the inside rail in the final turn, Fierceness faded, finishing 15th.

“He had the hop at the start, and we kind of had to hustle a little more than we wanted to,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Got some pressure on both sides coming by the eighth pole. … Finally got to the position we wanted, but (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) said he was a little bit too geared up at that point.”

The pace-setters

Just Steel, Epic Ride and Track Phantom helped set the early pace alongside Fierceness but all finished out of contention. Track Phantom was 11th, Epic Ride was 14th and Just Steel, who is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was 17th.

“I was on the lead for a while,” Track Phantom’s jockey, Joel Rosario, said. “He ran his race but we couldn’t hang in there. He did his best.”

Jockey Keith Asmussen said Just Steel was squeezed leaving the gate, and Lukas said the early pace was too fast.

“It was probably a little too fast for the opening quarter-mile,” Epic Ride’s jockey, Adam Beschizza, said. “I was a little too aggressive going past the wire. It was a rough, busy race. I was able to keep it uninterrupted for the most for him. It’s just probably a bit too far.”

Eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (3) passes the finish line in the middle of the pack the first time by in Saturday’s race.
Eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (3) passes the finish line in the middle of the pack the first time by in Saturday’s race.

The rest of the field

Santa Anita Derby-winner Stronghold was fourth heading into the final turn but finished seventh, just behind Wood Memorial winner Resilience. Honor Marie, who was last at the first turn, finished eighth.

“My race was over coming out of the gate,” Honor Marie’s jockey, Ben Curtis, said. “I got speared from both sides, I lost an iron and had to put it back in. He was nearly down on his head but I gave him time to pick himself up. He didn’t get the smoothest first quarter of a mile and I just let him float around a bit after that. Then I took to the inside because I didn’t want to give away any more ground. He paid for the early exertion but he ran a credible race.”

Endlessly and Dornoch rounded out the top 10.

“He had a very bad trip,” Dornoch’s trainer, Danny Gargan, said. “He was eliminated early. He got very tired. I’m disappointed in the way he ran today.”

West Saratoga, whose trainer Larry Demeritte became the first Black trainer to saddle a horse in the Derby since 1989, finished 11th.

Domestic Product (12th), Society Man (16th), Grand Mo the First (18th), Catalytic (19th) and Just a Touch (20th) were never really in the mix.

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