Bob Baffert holds up the winner’s trophy

Who won the Kentucky derby 2021?

The 68-year-old trainer said of Medina Spirit, “I’m really, really shocked.”

It wasn’t a case of feigned modesty. After two of his best horses, Life Is Good and Concert Tour, was derailed on the Derby trail, Baffert was cautious about his chances.

Medina Spirit isn’t your average high-priced California barn star with a fancy pedigree.

The trainer exclaimed, “I can’t believe he won this race.” “That gutsy little horse, that was him.” He’s always shown that he’s a high achiever. “His heart is bigger than his body,”.

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In six career starts, Medina Spirit has never finished lower than second, and two of his three defeats came to Life Is Nice, who would have been the Derby favorite if he hadn’t been injured.

“I’ve rehearsed this speech in the shower and treadmill,” Zedan said. “Never thought I was going to do it, but here I am.”

Medina Spirit made a strong start, though Essential Quality and 9-2 second option Rock Your World collided soon after.

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“John Sadler, the trainer for Rock The World, said, “We were finished.” “‘Not a chance.’

In both the first and second turns, Essential Quality was five horses high before taking aim at Medina Spirit in the stretch and finishing fourth.

Trainer Brad Cox said of the favorite, “He didn’t get the greatest trip, That can happen when you start from the 14-hole.”

Mandaloun, Cox’s other horse, came in second and paid $23.00 and $13.40. Hot Rod Charlie, which is owned in part by five former Brown University football players, finished third and charged $5.20 to show.

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Todd Pletcher had four runners in the race, the best of which was Known Agenda, who finished ninth. Sainthood came in eleventh, Bourbonic thirteenth, and Dynamic One eighteenth.

Last year, when the race was run in September without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert tied Ben Jones for the lead with his sixth win.

“The seven wins? I can’t believe I won two,” Baffert said. “That’s what I love about this business: Nobody knows for sure.”

Baffert had appeared before the Arkansas Racing Commission a week before, challenging a 15-day suspension imposed as part of his penalty for two substance positives involving two of his horses in May 2020. He was successful, with the commission unanimously voting to lower his fines and lift his suspension.

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“I’m just so grateful I can still compete at this level,” Baffert said.

Since Victor Espinoza in 2014-15, Velazquez is the first jockey to win consecutive Derbys. The 49-year-old rider also won the $1 million Kentucky Oaks for fillies on Friday, completing the Kentucky Oaks-Derby double for the first time since Calvin Borel in 2009.


Velazquez had warned Baffert the night before not to underestimate Medina Spirit, named after Islam’s second holiest city and the capital of Saudi Arabia’s Medina province.

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“Every time I asked him for a little more, he gave me more,” Velazquez said.

The Derby was held on a sunny day with a crowd of 51,838 people, around 100,000 less than normal. Within the track, fans were advised to wear masks, but many did not.

O Besos came fifth, followed by Keepmeinmind, Helium, Midnight Bourbon, and Known Agenda. Highly Motivated finished tenth, ahead of Sainthood, Like The King, Bourbonic, Brooklyn Strong, Rock The World, Hidden Stash, Super Stock, Dynamic One, and Soup and Sandwich.

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