Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan crowned after thrilling three-way photo finish

Mystik Dan, jockeyed by Brian Hernandez, Jr, was named the winner of the 150th Kentucky Derby, defeating 19 other three-year-old horses who competed, including the favorite, Fierceness, in a thrilling race.

The winner wasn’t immediately clear though.

The race came down to a three-way photo finish between Mystik Dan, who surged to a late lead down the inner rail of the track, narrowly beating Sierra Leone and Forever Young, who sought to catch up on the outside.

Mr Hernandez, speaking from the winner’s podium, said he realised he might have a shot at the win as Mystik Dan entered the final portion of the race.

“I asked him to go for it and he shot off, and I was like, ‘Man, we have a chance to win the Kentucky Derby,’” the jockey said.

At one point, the pair were so close to the railing of the track Mr Hernandez scuffed his boot.

“I think we can buy another pair of boots,” the jockey joked after the win.

The champion horse took home the Triple Crown trophy after running on May 4 around the 1.25-mile track at the Churchill Downs, the iconic racecourse in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mystik Dan was considered a long-shot, entering the race with 18-1 odds.

Mr Hernandez and trainer Kenny McPeek won the Kentucky Oaks race the previous day with horse Thorpedo Anna, the first trainer-jockey duo to win both races in a single year since 1952.

The horses and their jockeys at the derby were competing for a whopping $5m prize, which is split among the top five finishers. The owner of this year’s winner was awarded $3.1m — more than last year’s total purse. The jockey got $310,000 of the loot.

On Saturday, the derby, dubbed “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Four of the riders made their Kentucky Derby debut on Saturday, according to the Courier-Journal.

Fierceness was frequently named on a shortlist of horses expected to win the race. The horse’s jockey, John Velazquez, was vying to become the fourth jockey ever to win the race four times or more, the outlet reported.

Fierceness and Mr Velazquez came up against tough odds though: no horse has ever won from the No.17 post, and Fierceness ultimately finished at 15th.

The race was also notable with two horses, Forever Young and T O Password, cracking the top five and nearly giving a Japanese-based horse its first Kentucky Derby win.

A crowd of more than 156,000 was on hand to witness the race.