DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — People all over the country are celebrating the win of Mage at the 149th Kentucky Derby, but the win means more for one local family.
Rick and Helen Stevens-Gleason of Middletown are part owners of the winning horse. The husband-and-wife duo recalled the excitement in Churchill Downs as they watched Mage make his big move.
“I kept saying to Rick, ‘What’s he doing, what’s he doing?’ Finally, Rick said, ‘He won!’ and I said, ‘He did?’ Then he said, ‘I think,’ and I said, ‘Well, did he, or didn’t he?'” Helen said.
Kentucky Derby win was ‘just amazing’
“He won, and then it was a mad race to the Winner’s Circle. We were near the finish line, and it was quite a trek to the Winner’s Circle, getting through all the crowds. It was a dream come true, absolutely…When Mage finally made his move, he was pretty much right in front of me. He was hardly even breathing heavily at all. He was so cool and calm. It was amazing. Just amazing. That’s his way of racing. He comes from the back and makes a big move right at the end.”
Even the crowd inside the Winner’s Circle was enormous, the couple said.
“You had all the dignitaries, the jockey’s family, the trainer’s family and the commonwealth shareholders in there,” Rick said. “Most of the shareholders, anyway.”
With Triple Crown on the line, Mage’s co-owners ready for Preakness, Belmont
The two are part of a shared ownership, where members own a share of Mage. They both grew up with families in the horse racing business.
The couple has always loved horses but made the decision over a decade ago to fully commit to the passion.
“In 2010, I became ill and was hospitalized for 18 days. I had a perforated colon and went septic. It was a real touch-and-go time period,” Helen said.
“While I was in the hospital, I said to Rick, ‘You know, you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.’ I had just retired from teaching for 40 years, and I wanted to get back into horses. My dad’s side of the family has been into horses since the early 1800s. Rick’s family is in harness racing. My dad trained show horses. I said, ‘I want to get back into horses,’ and Rick said, ‘Let’s do it! When you get out of here, we’re going to do what we want to do.'”
Rick and Helen did just that. Now, their horse Mage has a shot at a Triple Crown title, with the Preakness Stakes in two weeks and Belmont Stakes later this summer.
The couple said they plan to be at both races.