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horse racing
Jockey John Velazquez waves to the fans aboard Medina Spirit winning the Kentucky Derby

2021 Kentucky Derby Results

Date: 05/01/2021

The 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve was contested on the first Saturday in May over the classic trip of 1 1/4 miles around the historic oval in Louisville. Conditions were excellent wth partly cloudy skies, a fast main track, and a race time temperature of 75 degrees. Due to coronavirus restrictions, attendance was kept down to 51,838, less than 1/3 of a typical Derby turnstile count, however betting on the Derby alone was $155.4 million, off the $165.5 million back in 2019 but a 96% increase over last year's.

20 horses made final entry, but after King Fury scratched on Friday, a field of 19 three-year-olds came out of the tunnel beneath the Twin Spires to the strains of My Old Kentucky Home. Essential Quality was sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, undefeated in 4 starts including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), Southwest Stakes (G3), and Blue Grass Stakes (G2). In to challenge him included 9-2 second choice Rock Your World, undefeated in 3 starts including the Santa Anita Derby (G1), and 11-2 third choice Hot Rod Charlie, winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2). Because of corona virus restrictions at race tracks across the country, this was the first time most of these 3-year-olds had ever raced before spectators.
horse racing
Medina Spirit on the inside battling with Mandaloun in the stretch.
When the gate opened at 6:59pm ET, jockey John Velazquez sent 12-1 sixth choice Medina Spirit to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.09, 46.70, and 1:11.21 while pressed by 27-1 Soup and Sandwich and stalked by 26-1 Mandaloun. Turning for home, Soup and Sandwich tired badly and faded to finish last, as Mandaloun moved up to challenge at the 1/4 pole through 1 mile in 1:35.98 setting up duel to the line. The pair raced together the rest of the way, but Medina Spirit pulled away in the final strides to win by 1/2 a length in 2:01.02. It was another 1/2 length back to Hot Rod Charlie third, and a head more to favorite Essential Quality fourth.

The victory was worth $1,860,000 and increased Medina Spirit's earnings to $2,175,200 with a record of 3 wins, 3 seconds, and thirds in 6 starts. The victory gave trainer Bob Baffert his record seventh Kentucky Derby victory and rider John Velazquez his fourth.

There were six other stakes races on the card with the Derby. Full results for all of them with more photos are here.

horse racing
Medina Spirit winner of the Kentucky Derby
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 8   Medina Spirit      Velazquez    26.20   12.00   7.60
 7   Mandaloun          Geroux               23.00  13.40
 9   Hot Rod Charlie    Prat                         5.20

Winning Time:  2:01.02

$2 Exacta 8-7                  503.60
$1 Trifecta 8-7-9            1,696.90
$1 Superfecta 8-7-9-14       9,456.40
$1 Super Hi-5 8-7-5-14-6   296,769.60
$1 Oaks/Derby Double 10-8       47.90
Results chart from DRF           Video replay - from NBC Sports

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Medina Spirit heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "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."

Right: Celebrating with the Kentucky Derby trophy. Owner Amr Zedan is behind Jill in front of the rose bouquet.

Left: Medina Spirit heads back to the barn. Winning owner Amr Zedan said, "This is really surreal. I really just can't believe it. I was watching the race from down there. And obviously a lot of people here. You can't really see. So what I was hoping is exactly what Johnny said. I was just hoping for a clean break. We got the eight hole. I knew he had a heart that's bigger than his body. And all we needed is for him to be up front and just keep fighting because no one was going to pass Medina if Medina really got the lead. On the way into the stretch, I just couldn't see anything. It just went gray, and all of a sudden everybody is jumping on top of me. I don't know. It was emotional. It was surreal. It was just amazing."

Right: The Mumm Champagne spray in the winner's circle.

Left: Medina Spirit walks over before the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez, celebrating his fourth Derby win, said, "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."

Right: Medina Spirit in the paddock. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "This year I really enjoyed myself. I came in here under the radar. I thought, well, maybe he'll get a piece of it or something. But Johnny, he kept telling me if he improves off his last race, he'll run well. And Ron Anderson, his agent, who is right there, he's really one of the sharpest. And he told me, he says, if he just improves two points on the sheet, he says, you can win this thing. Wow, well, if he's going to do that... It's one of those things where it's just ?? it was a thrilling win. And for this little horse, what he did today, he has got so much of Silver Charm in him, just a fighter. He put him on the lead and he was going along easy. And those horses came to him. I kept waiting for all those horses to pass him, you know? When they turned for home, I go, well..."

Left: Medina Spirit in the post parade. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said about winning his seventh Kentucky Derby, "You know, it's one of those things where I've never been keeping score, like records and stuff. Like, the Grade I record, I heard about a month ago. It was a super jinx. And we got it today with Gamine. But the seven wins, it's like, I can't believe I won two. It's just ?? I leave here, like, wow. Can you believe it? Every time we've won, we look at each other, Jill and I: Can you believe we won the Kentucky Derby again? And it's exciting." The win gives Baffert the all-time lead in Derby wins by trainers, one more than previous record-holder Ben Jones, who also trained two Triple Crown winners.

Right: Medina Spirit parades for the fans.

Left: Second place finisher Mandaloun in the paddock. His jockey Florent Geroux said, "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." His trainer Brad Cox added, "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."

Right: Third place finisher Hot Rod Charlie in the post parade. His trainer Doug O'Neill said, "I'm proud; very proud. He ran huge. It looked to me like he had a good trip. But Flavien 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." His jockey Flavien Prat added, "He ran great."

Left: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Essential Quality in the post parade. His trainer Brad Cox said, "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." His jockey Luis Saez added, "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."

Right: The entire Kentucky Derby field at the head of the stretch.

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