It is advised to never underestimate the Kentucky Derby’s King, Bob Baffert.
Medina Spirit, whom Baffert earlier in the week described as among Derby’s best five or ten horses, took a comprehensive lead and never relinquished it in winning Saturday’s race.
At the Churchill Downs, Baffert won his 7th Kentucky Derby in front of an estimated audience of 51,838, and broke the tie for the most wins by a trainer in the race’s 147-year history with Ben Jones.
Baffert said that he was aware that Medina Spirit had been training well, however, he was indeed amazed by the swift lead he had. He said that he had to wait for others to come closer to him, however, John Velazquez kept him at the ideal position throughout the race. Baffert said that he could believe winning this race as the horse approached him.
Medina Spirit completed in just 2:01.02 the 1.25 miles and on a $2 win bet paid $26.20.
Velazquez and Baffert, for the 2nd year in a row, dominated the derby after Authentic’s victory in last year’s race, which was postponed owing to the pandemic until the Labor Day weekend.
Derby fans, however, were not permitted to participate previous September, but this time a crowd of more than 50,000, on a spring’s glorious Saturday, witnessed a nail-biting finish. Mandaloun came second, a half-length back, and Hot Rod Charlie was third, another half-length back. The post-time favorite, Essential Quality, finished fourth, a head back.
Brad Cox trained both, Essential Quality and Mandaloun, who was competing in the Derby for the first time and attempting to become the first trainer to win the race as a Louisville-born.
Medina Spirit established strong early stats:
Quarter mile: 23.09 seconds
Half mile: 46.70 seconds
Three-Quarters: 1:11.21 seconds
Mandaloun, Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie made charges to Medina Spirit’s in the final moments but were unable to supersede him.
Velazquez, who claimed his 4th Derby said that it never gets old and it is a treat to be at the Kentucky Derby and to win once more. He also stated that he ‘d like to return next year.
Medina Spirit, who is owned by Zedan Racing Stables, in six career races, improved to 3-3-0. He came to the Derby after two second-place finishes at Santa Anita Park. He lost by eight lengths to Life Is Good and to Rock Your World by 4.25 lengths on March 6 and April 3, respectively.
Following those loses, Baffert downplayed Medina Spirit’s prospects initially this week, at one stage referring to him as “a cut below those top horses.”
Baffert said after the race that Medina Spirit is an overachiever. He has a heart far bigger than his body.
Medina Spirit was purchased at the Ocala Breeders Sales 2020 for $35,000. He is a son of Protonico and Mongolian Changa.
Never bet against Bob. This is one thing you need to remember on Kentucky Derby Day from now before he finishes training horses.
They turn up on Derby Day regardless of whether Bob Baffert takes costly or inexpensive horses to Churchill Downs, regardless of how they have run in the prep races or whether they seem capable of running the 1 1/4-mile distance, they do show up.