NATIONAL NEWS

Medina Spirit Gives Baffert Record 7th Kentucky Derby Win

May 1, 2021, 7:14 PM
Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Medina Spirit #8, after winning the 147th running of the Kent...
Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Medina Spirit #8, after winning the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — John Velazquez was in a familiar place, in the lead aboard Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby and holding off the stretch bid of three challengers. This time, Bob Baffert couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Medina Spirit won by a half-length on Saturday, giving Baffert his seventh victory, the most of any trainer in the race’s 147-year history.

The jockey and trainer — both Hall of Famers — teamed up eight months ago to win a pandemic-delayed Derby in September with Authentic, who raced to an early lead and hung on. That wasn’t so surprising.

This one was.

Sent off at 12-1 — astronomical odds for a colt trained by the white-haired, two-time Triple Crown winner — Medina Spirit was in a street fight thundering down the stretch.

The dark brown colt was pressed by Mandaloun on his outside. Hot Rod Charlie was coming fast outside of Mandaloun, with 5-2 favorite Essential Quality giving chase on the far outside.

“I kept waiting for all those horses to pass him,” Baffert said. “When he got to the eighth pole, we said, ‘This guy has got a shot.’”

Velazquez knew he had plenty of horse left.

“We got to the 16th pole and he put his ears down and kept fighting,” the jockey said. “I was so proud of him.”

In the paddock, Baffert watched in amazement as one of the least heralded Derby runners of his long career dug in at the front.

“You could tell he was laying it down and Johnny was riding hard,” Baffert said. “He was just relentless.”

Medina Spirit led all the way and ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.02. He paid $26.20, $12 and $7.60.

Velazquez earned his fourth Derby victory aboard the dark brown colt that was purchased as a yearling for $1,000 and was a bargain-basement buy at $35,000 for current owner Amr Zedan of Saudi Arabia.

“He doesn’t know how much he cost,” Baffert said, “but what a little racehorse.”

Baffert punched his right arm in the air after watching the finish on the video board in the paddock. He was swarmed by his wife, Jill, and youngest son, Bode, with celebratory hugs.

“I’m really, really surprised,” the 68-year-old trainer said.

It wasn’t false modesty. Baffert had been low-key about his chances after two of his best horses — Life Is Good and Concert Tour — were derailed along the Derby trail.

Medina Spirit isn’t the typical high-priced talent with a fancy pedigree in Baffert’s California barn.

“I cannot believe he won this race,” the trainer said. “That little horse, that was him, all guts. He’s always shown that he’s been an overachiever. His heart is bigger than his body.”

Medina Spirit has never finished worse than second in six career starts and two of his three losses came to Life Is Good, who likely would have been the Derby favorite had he not been injured.

“I’ve rehearsed this speech in the shower and treadmill,” Zedan said. “Never thought I was going to do it, but here I am.”

Mandaloun — one of Louisville trainer Brad Cox’s two entries — finished second and returned $23.00 and 13.40. Hot Rod Charlie, partly owned by five former Brown University football players, was another half-length back in third and paid $5.20 to show.

Essential Quality, also trained by Cox, finished fourth.

Baffert won back-to-back, having tied Ben Jones with his sixth victory last year when the race was run in September without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The seven wins? I can’t believe I won two,” Baffert said. “That’s what I love about this business: Nobody knows for sure.”

Velazquez became the first jockey to win consecutive Derbies since Victor Espinoza in 2014-15. The 49-year-old rider also completed the Kentucky Oaks-Derby double for the first time since Calvin Borel in 2009, winning the $1 million race for fillies on Friday.

Velazquez had told Baffert a night earlier not to underestimate Medina Spirit, named for the second holiest city in Islam and capital of the Medina province in Saudi Arabia.

“Every time I asked him for a little more, he gave me more,” Velazquez said.

The Derby went off on a sun-splashed day with attendance of 51,838 — about 100,000 fewer than usual. Fans were told to wear masks inside the track, but plenty of them did not.

O Besos finished fifth, followed by Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, Helium and Known Agenda. Highly Motivated was 10th, ahead of Sainthood, Like The King, Bourbonic, Hidden Stash, Brooklyn Strong, Super Stock, Rock Your World (the 9-2 second choice), Dynamic One and Soup and Sandwich.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover debris from a suspected Chinese sur...
Haley Britzky

US Navy releases photos of Chinese spy balloon recovery effort

The U.S. Navy released photos Tuesday of its recovery effort of a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which U.S. fighter jets shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
17 hours ago
Powerball's second-largest jackpot — an estimated $1.2 billion — is up for grabs Wednesday. (Ke...
Associated Press

Lucky player in Seattle suburb wins $754.6M Powerball prize

Washington state lottery officials say a single winning ticket for a $754.6 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a department store in a Seattle suburb.
17 hours ago
FILE - In this image from video released and partially redacted by the city of Memphis, Tenn., Tyre...
Adrian Sainz, Associated Press

13 Memphis officers could be disciplined in Nichols case

Officials say 13 Memphis officers could end up being disciplined in connection with the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
17 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Cong...
Associated Press

Biden aims to deliver reassurance in State of Union address

President Joe Biden is ready to offer a reassuring assessment of the nation's condition rather than roll out flashy policy proposals as he delivers his second State of the Union address.
2 days ago
The near-collision happened at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, seen here from the air. (Kir...
Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Southwest, FedEx jets came within 100 feet of collision at Texas airport, investigators say

A Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came as close as 100 feet from colliding Saturday at the main airport in Texas' capital, and it was a pilot — not air traffic controllers — who averted disaster, a top federal investigator says.
2 days ago
In this handout photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nathan Lee Chasing ...
Rio Yamat, Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Former “Dances With Wolves” actor Nathan Chasing Horse has been formally charged in Nevada with eight felonies and two misdemeanors.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Medina Spirit Gives Baffert Record 7th Kentucky Derby Win