A Derby horse with ties to Butler County won the Kentucky Derby

Mage paid $32.42, $14.58 and $9.08. Two fillies paid $10.44 and $6.52 and Angel of Empire paid $4.70.

Thirteen years ago, Helen Stevens-Gleeson suffered a “medical emergency” that left her hospitalized for 18 days.

It was a wake-up call for Stevens-Gleason, an elementary teacher who retired after 40 years in the Franklin school district.

“Tomorrow is not guaranteed,” he said this week. “It’s time for us to live. Let’s go out and have fun.”

So Stevens-Gleason, a betting official at Miami Valley Gaming in Monroe, and her husband entered the full-fledged betting industry by investing in syndicates.

“It’s like the stock market,” Rick Gleason said. “If your horse wins, you win.”

Mage broke his maiden on January 28, then finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 4 and second in the Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulf Park. Both times the eventual winner was Forte, the Derby favorite who was scratched on Saturday morning.

Stevens-Gleeson comes from a horse racing family. His father, Russell “Duty” Stevens, trained stablebreds and show horses. He always attended the Oaks, a 3-year-old race for fillies the day before the Derby, and hosted a Derby party afterward.

When it came time to play “My Old Kentucky Home,” Stevens had everyone stand up and put their hands over their hearts. Wherever they watch Derby Saturday, Rick and Helen will do the same.

“He’s as excited as can be in heaven,” she said. “He never thought his little girl would have a horse in the Derby.”

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