The Kentucky Derby is a race where anything can happen. You can have it handicapped down to a science and you can be right. Until the gates open, horses get bumped and knocked to the back of the pack, while one manages to find the early speed, take the lead and brings home the roses.
That's a short description of what happened yesterday. When the gates opened, ROCK YOUR WORLD and ESSENTIAL QUALITY bumped each other at the start, knocking ROCK YOUR WORLD towards the back of the field and taking some of the pace pressure off of MEDINA SPIRIT and Johnny Velazquez.
MEDINA SPIRIT led the field through fractions of :23.09, :46.70 and 1:11.21 while under mild pressure from SOUP AND SANDWICH. MANDALOUN tracked in third. Approaching the far turn. HOT ROD CHARLIE turned up the speed and began to advance along the rail, while ESSENTIAL QUALITY made a bid four wide.
At the top of the stretch, MEDINA SPIRIT clung to the lead with MANDALOUN and HOT ROD CHARLIE three wide and ESSENTIAL QUALITY fighting to get to the front four wide. MANDALOUN briefly got his head past MEDINA SPIRIT in the stretch, but the Baffert trainee dug in and regained his lead to take the win.
MANDALOUN finished second with HOT ROD CHARLIE in third. ESSENTIAL QUALITY was another head back in fourth followed by O BESOS, MIDNIGHT BOURBON, KEEPMEINMIND, HELIUM, KNOWN AGENDA, HIGHLY MOTIVATED, SAINTHOOD, LIKE THE KING, BOURBONIC, HIDDEN STASH, BROOKLYN STRONG, SUPER STOCK, ROCK YOUR WORLD, DYNAMIC ONE and SOUP AND SANDWICH.
In the post race conference, Johnny Velazquez stated, "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."
"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. 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," said Baffert.
MEDINA SPIRIT ran the mile and a quarter distance in 2:01.02. He increased his earnings to $2,175,200 with a record of 6-3-3-0.
The Florida-bred colt is a son of PROTONICO out of MONGOLIAN CHANGA by BRILLIANT SPEED. He was purchased as a yearling for $1000 and then sold at the 2020 OBS Sale for $35,000. He is owned by Zedan Racing Stables.