Medina Spirit Wins Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
Medina Spirit (Zedan Racing Stables) fought back after relinquishing the lead to Mandaloun at midstretch to post a half-length to win the 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (GI) before a crowd of 51,838.
The victory gave trainer Bob Baffert his record seventh Kentucky Derby victory and rider John Velazquez his fourth.
Baffert broke a tie with Ben Jones for most Derby victories with Saturday's triumph. His previous wins came with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), Triple Crown winner Justify (2018) and Authentic (2020).
Velazquez, who won last year on Authentic had previous wins on Always Dreaming (2017) and Animal Kingdom (2011). Velazquez became the eighth rider to win the Kentucky Oaks and Derby in the same year having piloted Malathaat to victory Friday. The most recent rider to do that was Calvin Borel in 2009.
Medina Spirit broke sharply from the gate but favored Essential Quality and second choice Rock Your World bumped shortly after the start eliminating some pace pressure from Velazquez.
Medina Spirit led the field through fractions of :23.09, :46.70 and 1:11.21 while under mild pressure from Soup and Sandwich with Mandaloun tracking in third. Approaching the far turn, Hot Rod Charlie began an advance along the rail while Essential Quality mounted a bid four wide.
At the head of the stretch, Medina Spirit clung to a tenuous lead over Mandaloun with Hot Rod Charlie three wide and Essential Quality four wide. Mandaloun briefly stuck his head in front at midstretch only to have Medina Spirit regain a lead he never yielded.
Medina Spirit covered the classic mile and a quarter distance in 2:01.02.
The victory was worth $1,860,000 and increased Medina Spirit's earnings to $2,175,200 with a record of 6-3-3-0.
Medina Spirit is a Florida-bred son of Protonico out of the Brilliant Speed mare Mongolian Changa. He was purchased by Bloodstock Agent Gary Young for a mere $35,000 at the 2020 OBS Sale.
Medina Spirit returned $26.20, $12 and $7.60. Mandaloun, ridden by Florent Geroux, returned $23 and $13.40 with Hot Rod Charlie finishing third another half-length back under Flavien Prat and paying $5.20 to show.
Essential Quality was another head back in fourth and followed in order by O Besos, Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, Helium, Known Agenda, Highly Motivated, Sainthood, Like the King, Bourbonic, Hidden Stash, Brooklyn Strong, Super Stock, Rock Your World, Dynamic One and Soup and Sandwich.
2021 Kentucky Derby Results
The 147th Kentucky Derby Trainer Quotes
MEDINA SPIRIT Trainer Bob Baffert, (First): "This little horse coming in here, he's always shown he's an overachiever. His heart is bigger than his body. When he turned for home, something just told me. He reminded me of Silver Charm (Baffert's 1st Derby winner). He doesn't know how much he cost. He wouldn't let anyone pass him. Mr. Zedan wanted to come to the Derby with a $45,000 horse. I thought we'd see what happens. This horse, the way he ran, I didn't know he had it in him. Johnny Velazquez is unbelievable. He's so cool. He told me last night not to underestimate this horse. He's better than you think."
MANDALOUN Trainer Brad Cox, (Second): "He ran huge. He saved ground along the inside, battled and battled hard, thought he had a shot to win it there, We just came up a little short."
HOT ROD CHARLIE Trainer Doug O'Neill, (Third): "I'm proud; very proud. He ran huge. It looked to me like he had a good trip. But Flavin (rider Flavien Prat) might have a different take on that. We're honored and blessed to have a horse like this. I'm so proud of him. And know for sure that he'll be back.."
ESSENTIAL QUALITY Trainer Brad Cox, (Fourth): "He didn't get the greatest trip as he was wide around both turns. That can happen when you start from the 14 hole, especially when don't get off to a good start. He was leaning out on the far turn and Luis (Saez) said he was shying away from the other horses. We will just have to regroup. Proud of both horses. They trained well and just wish the order of finish was just a little different."
O BESOS Trainer Greg Foley, (Fifth): "I'm so proud of our horse. He tried so hard. We got a great trip. He settled well after getting a little rank going down the stretch."
MIDNIGHT BOURBON Trainer Steve Asmussen, (Sixth): "We missed the break and that's the only thing I thought he'd do right."
KEEPMEINMIND Trainer Robertino Diodoro, (Seventh): "The one thing we wanted was to get him back to his old ways and he relaxed the way we wanted. David (Cohen) said they started moving so fast he had to swing him out wider than we wanted. No excuses. We're happy with the horse. You don't want to be happy with seventh, but we are."
HELIUM Trainer Mark Casse, (Eighth): "He finished mid-pack but just wasn't good enough."
KNOWN AGENDA, Trainer Todd Pletcher, (Ninth): "He never got into position. He made a move around the far turn but got shuffled back. I'm going to have to watch the replay."
HIGHLY MOTIVATED Trainer Chad Brown, (10th): "I thought I got a great trip, into the first turn and down the backside, and he just didn't fire today. I thought I got a hot setup and I wanted to be just behind that and that's where we were. He got over early, he saved ground on both turns; I got a dream trip. I hate to waste that kind of trip in the Derby on a horse that didn't fire today. It is what it is and we'll just have to regroup."
SAINTHOOD Trainer Todd Pletcher, (11th): "He never got into position."
LIKE THE KING Trainer Wesley Ward, (12th): "It was a great experience. The big question mark was if he would like the dirt. He worked great leading up to the race. We were very happy with the day but his future will be on the grass."
BOURBONIC Trainer Todd Pletcher, (13th): "He never got into position... I'm going to have to watch the replay."
HIDDEN STASH Trainer Vicki Oliver, (14th): "He looks like he came out of it OK. He ate a lot of dirt but we scoped him and he's fine. I just jogged him in the shedrow and he's tired but he should be OK. He ran his race. Rafael (Bejarano) said he broke real good, but he had to check him several times. Horses were in front of him and there was nowhere to go."
BROOKLYN STRONG Trainer Danny Velazquez, (15th): "It's a tough load with 20 horses. You're in there a long time. Umberto (Rispoli) said he wasn't standing correctly and he broke a little slow. Our horse was really trying. No harm, no foul. If he comes back OK, we'll go to the Belmont."
SUPER STOCK Trainer Steve Asmussen, (16th): Couldn't be reached for comment.
ROCK YOUR WORLD Trainer John Sadler, (17th): "We got squeezed at the start and we were done. No chance."
DYNAMIC ONE Trainer Todd Pletcher, (18th): "We could never get in positon."
SOUP AND SANDWICH Trainer Mark Casse, (19th): "We'll regroup and see where we go from here."
The 2021 Kentucky Derby Jockey Quotes
MEDINA SPIRIT Jockey John Velazquez, (First): "Every time I asked him to give more he kept fighting on. You couldn't ask for more of a horse. When you ride a horse like this who is competitive you can't ask for anything else."
MANDALOUN Jockey Florent Geroux, (Second): "He absolutely ran his heart out. Words can't describe how proud I am of him. What a race and what a horse. Well done to trainer Brad Cox. He got him ready to run off the Louisiana Derby effort. He showed us he is the horse we always thought. We just got beat."
HOT ROD CHARLIE Jockey Flavien Prat, (Third): "He ran great."
ESSENTIAL QUALITY Jockey Luis Saez, (Fourth): "He bumped pretty good (with Rock Your World) out of the gate. We ended up getting pretty wide the entire trip which didn't help either."
O BESOS Jockey Marcelino Pedroza, (Fifth): "He got a little head strong in the stretch for the first time but I got him settled into the perfect spot. He was moving so comfortably around the turn and we got in the perfect spot to make a run at the leaders. He's a phenomenal horse."
MIDNIGHT BOURBON Jockey Mike Smith, (Sixth): "We simply missed the break."
KEEPMEINMIND Jockey David Cohen, (Seventh): "I have to be proud of his effort. He ran a good race and I'm very thankful for Robertino (Diodoro) for being so loyal to us."
HELIUM Jockey Julien Leparoux, (Eighth): "I got him in a good spot out of the break and he just flattened."
KNOWN AGENDA, Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., (Ninth): "We made a move on the backside but just sort of flattened."
HIGHLY MOTIVATED Jockey Javier Castellano, (10th): "We got into a good spot but just didn't fire."
SAINTHOOD Jockey Corey Lanerie, (11th): "I couldn't have gotten into a better spot but he just didn't have enough to get it done."
LIKE THE KING Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, (12th): "He didn't really handle the dirt."
BOURBONIC Jockey Kendrick Carmouche, (13th): "I just never could get a good run at them."
HIDDEN STASH Jockey Rafael Bejarano, (14th): "I didn't want to try and get him out of his rhythm too soon but when I needed to go he was just flat."
BROOKLYN STRONG Jockey Umberto Rispoli, (15th): "He broke a little slow out of the gate but he tried."
SUPER STOCK Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., (16th): "Didn't have it today."
ROCK YOUR WORLD Jockey Joel Rosario, (17th): "It was pretty much over after the break. We got out of position from there and it was a tough trip to overcome in a race like the Derby."
DYNAMIC ONE Jockey Jose Ortiz, (18th): "Didn't fire."
SOUP AND SANDWICH Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, (19th): "We got away from the gate good but he faded late."