LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — John Velazquez became as soon as in a familiar region, in the lead aboard Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby and conserving off the stretch repeat of three challengers. This time, Bob Baffert couldn’t accept as true with what he became as soon as seeing.
Medina Spirit won by a half-length on Saturday, giving Baffert his seventh victory, the most of any trainer in the flee’s 147-year history.
The jockey and trainer — each Hall of Famers — teamed up eight months previously to win an epidemic-delayed Derby in September with Official, who raced to an early lead and hung on. That wasn’t so fine.
This one became as soon as.
Despatched off at 12-1 — colossal odds for a colt trained by the white-haired, two-time Triple Crown winner — Medina Spirit became as soon as in a avenue fight thundering down the stretch.
The darkish brown colt became as soon as pressed by Mandaloun on his delivery air. Hot Rod Charlie became as soon as coming rapid delivery air of Mandaloun, with 5-2 popular Important Quality giving proceed on the some distance delivery air.
“I kept looking ahead to all those horses to circulation him,” Baffert acknowledged. “When he bought to the eighth pole, we acknowledged, ‘This guy has bought a shot.’”
Velazquez knew he had plenty of horse left.
“We bought to the 16th pole and he place apart his ears down and kept combating,” the jockey acknowledged. “I became as soon as so proud of him.”
In the paddock, Baffert watched in amazement as even handed one of the well-known least heralded Derby runners of his long occupation dug in at the entrance.
“That you simply would be in a position to picture he became as soon as laying it down and Johnny became as soon as driving now not easy,” Baffert acknowledged. “He became as soon as correct relentless.”
Medina Spirit led the total means and ran 1 1/4 miles in 2: 01.02. He paid $26.20, $12 and $7.60. The victory became as soon as fee $1.86 million.
Velazquez earned his fourth Derby victory aboard the colt that became as soon as bought as a yearling for $1,000 and became as soon as a cut price-basement take at $35,000 for fresh proprietor Amr Zedan of Saudi Arabia. By comparability, Zedan as of late paid $1.7 million for an unraced 2-year-light.
“He doesn’t know the map unheard of he price,” Baffert acknowledged, “nonetheless what a tiny racehorse.”
Baffert punched his apt arm in the air after watching the carry out on the video board. He became as soon as buried in celebratory hugs by his accomplice, Jill, and youngest son, Bode. Jill Baffert had motive to thrill in an excellent time earlier, when a horse she co-owns and is trained by her husband won a $500,000 flee on the undercard.
“I’m in fact, in fact taken aback,” the 68-year-light trainer acknowledged of Medina Spirit.
It wasn’t spurious modesty. Baffert had been low-key about his possibilities after two of his simplest horses — Existence Is Staunch and Concert Tour — were derailed along the Derby stride.
Medina Spirit isn’t the moderate excessive-priced skills with a elaborate pedigree in Baffert’s California barn.
“I’m in a position to now not accept as true with he won this flee,” the teacher acknowledged. “That tiny horse, that became as soon as him, all guts. He’s always confirmed that he’s been an overachiever. His heart is bigger than his physique.”
Medina Spirit has never finished worse than 2d in six occupation starts and two of his three losses came to Existence Is Staunch, who seemingly would had been the Derby popular had he now not been injured.
“I’ve rehearsed this speech in the bathe and treadmill,” Zedan acknowledged. “On no record thought I became as soon as going to present it, nonetheless here I’m.”
Medina Spirit broke sharply out of the gate while Important Quality and 9-2 2d possibility Rock Your World bumped quickly after the originate.
“We were done,” Rock Your World’s trainer John Sadler acknowledged. “No likelihood.”
Important Quality became as soon as 5 horses wide in each the first and 2d turns ahead of taking design at Medina Spirit in the stretch and growing short in fourth region.
“He didn’t catch the supreme outing,” trainer Brad Cox acknowledged of the favourite. “That can happen if you happen to originate from the 14-hole.”
Mandaloun — Cox’s quite loads of entry — finished 2d and returned $23.00 and $13.40. Hot Rod Charlie, partly owned by 5 light Brown College football avid gamers, became as soon as but every other half-length abet in third and paid $5.20 to cloak.
Coach Todd Pletcher saddled four runners, with his very top carry out being ninth with Diagnosed Agenda. Sainthood became as soon as 11th, Bourbonic 13th and Dynamic One 18th.
Baffert won abet-to-abet, having tied Ben Jones with his sixth victory final year when the flee became as soon as drag in September without spectators thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The seven wins? I’m in a position to’t accept as true with I won two,” Baffert acknowledged. “That’s what I fancy about this enterprise: Nobody is aware of for obvious.”
Per week earlier, Baffert sat in entrance of the Arkansas Racing Fee appealing a 15-day suspension that became as soon as section of his punishment for a pair of drug positives inspiring two of his horses from Might perhaps presumably 2020. He became as soon as a success, with the commission balloting unanimously to decrease his fines and overturn the suspension.
“I’m correct so grateful I’m in a position to quiet compete at this stage,” Baffert acknowledged.
Velazquez modified into the first jockey to win consecutive Derbies since Victor Espinoza in 2014-15. The 49-year-light rider additionally finished the Kentucky Oaks-Derby double for the first time since Calvin Borel in 2009, winning the $1 million flee for fillies on Friday.
Velazquez had advised Baffert a night earlier now not to underestimate Medina Spirit, named for the 2d holiest metropolis in Islam and capital of the Medina province in Saudi Arabia.
“Whenever I requested him for a tiny extra, he gave me extra,” Velazquez acknowledged.
The Derby went off on a solar-splashed day with attendance of 51,838 — about 100,000 fewer than traditional. Followers were advised to wear masks contained in the observe, nonetheless plenty of them didn’t.
O Besos finished fifth, followed by Center of the night Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, Helium and Diagnosed Agenda. Extremely Motivated became as soon as 10th, ahead of Sainthood, Bask in The King, Bourbonic, Hidden Stash, Brooklyn Sturdy, Expansive Stock, Rock Your World, Dynamic One and Soup and Sandwich.
Extra AP sports actions: https://apnews.com/apf-sports actions and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports