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Medina Spirit gives Baffert historic seventh Kentucky Derby (G1) win
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Medina Spirit incredibly determined Kentucky Derby (G1) victory over Mandaloun gave Bob Baffert a record seventh winner in the Run for the Roses, moving him one ahead of Ben Jones on the all-time list. 

Though Baffert admittedly was cautious about Medina Spirit's chances in the week leading up to the race, the dark bay owned by Zedan Racing Stables led virtually the entire 1 1/4-mile trip under a masterful ride by Johnny Velazquez, who now has four Derby wins himself, including last year for Baffert with Authentic.

Medina Spirit broke from post 8 (tied for the top spot as the winningest Derby post position) and found himself in front in the first sixteenth of a mile. Velazquez got his mount to the rail as the went under the wire for the first time. Soup and Sandwich was the closest pursuer, with Mandaloun in third,  through a half-mile in :46.70. Soup and Sandwich began to fade as the field entered the far turn, but Mandaloun swung out and began to close in on the leader.

The stage was set at the top of the stretch as Medina Spirit and Mandaloun were on almost even terms. For every charge that Mandaloun mounted, Medina Spirit turned him away, with the duo running 1-2 for the final quarter mile. At the wire, Medina Spirit was a half-length winner and his trainer was in the record books.

The final time was 2:01.02 on a fast track.

“This little horse coming in here, he’s always shown he’s an overachiever,” said Baffert at the  post-race press conference. “His heart is bigger than his body. When he turned for home, something just told me. He reminded me of Silver Charm (Baffert’s1st Derby winner in 1997). 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 $35,000 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.” 

Baffert was referring to Zedan purchasing Medina Spirit, a son of Second-Crop sire Protonico at the 2020 OBS 2-year-old sale last July.  

Though he is 3-3-0 in six starts, Medina Spirit has never been passed in a race. Saturday's big payday upped his earnings to $2,175,200. 

In addition to Medina Spirit's victory, Baffert also became the all-time leading trainer by Grade 1 wins with 220 earlier on the card when the brilliant filly Gamine won the Derby City Distaff (G1). 

Baffert's Derby Winners:
Silver Charm (1997)
Real Quiet (1998)
War Emblem (2000)
American Pharoah (2015)
Justify (2018)
Authentic (2020)
Medina Spirit (2021)

Baffert 2013