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horse racing
Medina Spirit back at the barn on the day after the Kentucky Derby with trainer Bob Baffert

2021 Kentucky Derby Follow-up

Date: 05/05/2021

The 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve is in the history books, and Medina Spirit was the hero of the day, winning the Derby on the lead the whole way.

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Trainer Bob Baffert gave interviews and showed off Medina Spirit at his barn on Sunday morning.
The win gave trainer Bob Baffert the all-time lead in Kentucky Derby wins with seven, one more than the 6 by Ben Jones. In addition Jones and Baffert are the only trainers with two Triple Crown winners. Asked if he can break that tie this year, Baffert said on Sunday, "Can he win the Triple Crown? I don't know. But he's the Derby winner, and that's all that matters. I was coming in here, thinking, I wasn't sure (if Medina Spirit could win the Derby), everything had to go perfect for him. We were going to go to the lead, and see what happened. What if they challenged him? He made the lead pretty easily, for him, and the other speed horse (Rock Your World) didn't break . That's what it's like in the Derby: You have to get the trip; the other speed horse didn't get the trip. And he came back, he's handling it quite well. He wasn't as tired as I thought he might be. A big race like that, but he handled it quite well. It takes about a week to determine (if he will contest the Preakness, so I'm going to come back next weekend and see."

Medina Spirit may have to go against his stablemate Concert Tour at Pimlico. Baffert added, "But I don't see anything discouraging right now. Concert Tour worked well this morning (five furlongs in 1:00.60 at 5:50), I'll sit down and talk to Mr. (owner Gary) West. He wants that horse to develop and we're not rushing things. We know he's a good horse, so we'll see next week how he is. The thing is how they're training. They both would have to be training well."

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Medina Spirit poses on Sunday morning.
Discussing the trip further, Baffert said, "Going down the backside, he was doing it easy, you could tell he was enjoying himself. His ears were forward. And turning for home, they came for him, and he just dug in. I didn't know if he was going to do it. He fought hard, and ran sort of the same race that he did at Santa Anita when he won the Robert Lewis. They came to him, and he fended them all off. I couldn't believe it, at the 1/16 pole he was fighting and fighting. It was just a thrill to watch him do it, and fight on.

"When they turned for home, I was still not convinced. We didn't start screaming and yelling until about the 1/16 pole, when it looked like it was do-able. In that last 100 yards, we all were screaming and yelling like it was my first Derby. We were like crazy, crazy. That's what the Derby does to you. There's no other race like it. The seven hasn't quite sunk in yet. And to do it with a $35,000 horse. It gives people hope, keeps their dreams alive. Actually he was the cheapest yearling, since he cost $1,000. But he's a beautiful horse, a good-looking horse. I stand here in front of you guys, and you don't know how much I appreciate winning this, especially as you get older. It gets tougher as you get older. I'd love to have 10 in there if I could, but you know that won't happen. To have one who has a chance. To win it with him, it's a Cinderella story, he's just a blue-collar horse, just digging in. He reminded me of Silver Charm. It's another Kentucky Derby dream that came true."

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Medina Spirit (inside) and Mandaloun at the finish of the Derby.

Trainer Brad Cox was trying to be the first Louisville-born trainer to win the city's best known event, but came up short as Mandaloun finished second and favorite Essential Quality finished fourth. Cox said, "It was a wild experience being in the Derby for the first time. In every previous Derby I've attended, I've been a fan. I've seen the media interviews, the playing of 'My Old Kentucky Home' and everything leading up to the race. Being in the race, all of those things are sort of a blur. You're so focused on the job at hand. We were so grateful that both of our horses ran as well as they did. Essential Quality got a tough trip being so wide but coming that close to a Derby win makes me want more. We'll be back."

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Medina Spirit parades for the fans after winning the Derby.
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