Medina Spirit has taken out the one hundred and forty-seventh running of the Kentucky Derby.
The result gave trainer Bob Baffert a record number of seven wins in the Run For Roses contest, eclipsing the mark of Ben Jones who won six Derby’s between 1938 and 1952.
Baffert’s run of success started with Silver Charm in 1997 and he has been a particularly dominant force in recent times winning the Derby in 2018 with Justify, in 2020 with Authentic and now with Medina Spirit in the 2021 edition of the event.
Justify would go on to win the Triple Crown following in the footsteps of another Baffert trained runner American Pharoah who achieved that feat in 2015.
For jockey John Velazquez it was his fourth success in this prestigious race which was run in its normal time slot this year, after it had to be rescheduled to September last year due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
This year’s race had an official on-track attendance of 51,838 making it the largest sporting event in the United States since the unwelcome arrival of the pandemic.
Baffert had been more hopeful that confident with Medina Spirit going into the race. He told the media after the race, “I knew he was training well, but I’m really, really surprised.”
“When I saw him with the easy lead, I expected these horses to come at him. But Johnny had him in a perfect spot, and if you have him on the lead, he’ll fight,” said Baffert.
“I can’t believe he won this race. That little horse. It was all him, it was all guts. That little horse has a big heart.”
Velazquez was overjoyed with the win, even though he had been there three times before.
“What an incredible feeling. This doesn’t get old,” said Velazquez.
Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie finished second and third respectively while the 5/2 favourite Essential Quality had to settle for fourth place.