Medina Spirit gave Bob Baffert a record seventh Kentucky Derby victory with a courageous performance in the lead under John Velazquez.
On a colt that cost just $ 1,000 as a yearling in 2019 and $ 35,000 to his current connections last year, Velazquez was masterful from the front – just as he was in the delayed Covid renewal in September aboard the Authentic formed by Baffert.
With a crowd of 51,838 in attendance at Churchill Downs, Soup And Sandwich and Mandaloun have never been very far with the preferred essential quality having a good trip as well.
The latter circled the home lap in the hands of Luis Saez, while Hot Rod Charlie also joined the fight.
But in almost a rehearsal of Authentic’s victory when Tiz The Law looked to pass, Velazquez judged everything perfectly and his mount answered every call to delay Mandaloun. Hot Rod Charlie was third and Essential Quality fourth.
Baffert – who had been forced to lead the thrilling Life Is Good out of the race after a setback – told NBC Sports: “I knew he was training well, but I was really surprised – when I saw him on an easy lead, I waited for these horses to come to him.
“But Johnny had it perfectly placed and if you have it in mind, he will fight. When those horses came to him – I can’t believe he won this race. That little horse is him. – he was all gutsy.
“I am the luckiest guy in the world. I’m so blessed to bring these heavy horses here, but this little horse he has a heart, such a big heart.
“He’s not home yet (setting a new record), I love the record but it’s one of those things – I’m so thrilled, you never know if you’re going to come back someday. It’s so hard. .
“To win a seventh – we’re staying focused and working on it. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. But this little horse, he won it today, he doesn’t know how much it cost. race – he was all the racehorse today. “
The victory capped two great days for masterful Velazquez, who landed the Kentucky Oaks on Friday night with Malathaat.
Winning the Derby for the fourth time, he said: “There are no words to describe it – what an incredible feeling, it doesn’t get old.
“I told Bob we were going to put him in the lead and see what happened and I think that’s the horse to beat. It worked.”