Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Medina Spirit and his connections galloped into the record books with a stunning win at the 2021 Kentucky Derby, edging out Mandaloun at Churchill Downs to win the 147th Run for the Roses on Saturday.
This was far from the expected outcome. Medina Spirit broke from his post at 12-1 odds, while Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World were the favorites.
Once the field was off, those odds didn’t matter. Medina Spirit looked like the premier horse in the pack from the start. He stalked the lead early on, but once he claimed first place, it was simply about outrunning the late closers.
The order remained the same over the final quarter-mile, with the top four horses all running close together across the finish line.
While the favorites didn’t make their bettors much money, if any, the connections of Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie still got a piece of the $3 million purse.
Here’s a look at the final race chart, including Medina Spirit’s impressive finishing time.
Kentucky Derby 2021 Finishing Time, Race Chart and Purse
1. Medina Spirit 2:01.02, $1.86 million
2. Mandaloun (1/4 length behind), $600,000
3. Hot Rod Charlie (1), $300,000
4. Essential Quality (1), $150,000
5. O Besos (5.5), $90,000
6. Midnight Bourbon (8.5)
7. Keepmeinmind (8.5)
8. Helium (10.5)
9. Known Agenda (10.5)
10. Highly Motivated (10.5)
11. Sainthood (12.5)
12. Like the King (12.5)
13. Bourbonic (15.5)
14. Hidden Stash (16.5)
15. Brooklyn Strong (18)
16. Super Stock (19.5)
17. Rock Your World (24)
18. Dynamic One (31)
19. Soup and Sandwich (64)
King Fury (SCR)
The Florida-bred colt’s winning time is a shade slower than the 2:00.61 that Authentic ran to take the roses in 2020, but it is the second-best time since Monarchos in 2001.
Bob Baffert, who won a record seventh Kentucky Derby as a trainer, was even surprised by his colt’s effort.
“I cannot believe he won this race,” the legendary trainer said, per Byron King of BloodHorse. “That little horse—it was all guts. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. This horse had such a big heart. Johnny told me last night, ‘Don’t underestimate this horse. He’s better than you think, Bob. Don’t worry, we’ll get the job done.’ And he got it done.”
The winning horse also had the advantage of a proven jockey in John Velazquez. He won his fourth Derby including a 2020 win aboard Authentic and put himself in the history books.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
John Velazquez aboard Medina Spirit gives Bob Baffert his 7th Kentucky Derby win, breaking a tie with Ben Jones for the most wins all-time by a trainer.
Velazquez also becomes just the 3rd jockey over the last 30 years to win consecutive Derbies. https://t.co/NA5jFLJvxo
“There are no words to describe it,” Velazquez said on the NBC Sports broadcast. “What an incredible feeling. It just doesn’t get old. I want to come back next year. Every time I asked him for more, he gave me more and more and more. I was more tired than he was.”
That’s a good indication for the horse’s quest to win the Triple Crown. He will need the speed he showed in this race at the shorter 1 3/16th-mile track for the Preakness, but the more difficult test will be the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes if he makes it that far.
Mandaloun put in a strong showing at 26-1 odds. The Brad H. Cox trainee made a run for the improbably win down the final stretch, but his challenge was met by the eventual winner.
“Flo[rent Geroux] said he ran hard, just got a touch tired late,” Cox said, per Alicia Hughes of TVG. “It was definitely a step up from his last race. We knew that wasn‘t him in his last race.”
The last race Cox was referring to would be a sixth-place finish at the Louisiana Derby that clearly didn’t show his potential.
The two surprising horses were followed by two of the bigger favorites in Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality. Neither was able to find the pace early on and didn’t have enough kick to close the distance over the final quarter-mile.
Both could make a return at the Preakness and would be worthy adversaries. But for now, Medina Spirit is the horse to watch at Pimlico on May 15.