With all attention focused on Essential Quality, Medina Spirit (12-1) put in a perfect trip, led almost the entire way, and fought off a home stretch challenge by Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie. Essential Quality made a bid on the stretch but finished fourth. In fact the run down the stretch was quite exciting, with Medina Spirit, Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie, and Essential Quality spread out four deep across the track.
The Baffert-trained colt started at 12-1. He was expected to break fast . . . and fade. In the after race commentary, the announcers speculated that other jockeys didn’t try to chase him down because they didn’t think he’d win. Until he did.
Medina Spirit was not considered trainer Bob Baffert’s best horse in the race. The colt was sold as a yearling for only $1,000, as his breeder was in financial trouble and put no reserve on him. Even last year, when he was sold to his current owner he commanded only $35,000 as a two year old.
“Medina Spirit might be overlooked because he doesn’t have a flashy pedigree or expensive price tag, but to me he has more heart than any horse in the field.
“Medina Spirit has never lost to any horse that has stared him in the eye, and if everyone else doesn’t get a picture-perfect trip on the front end, and Medina can take them head-on to a battle down the lane, then he’s got a fighting chance to win something big for all us no-pedigreed little people.”Christy Whitman – who bought the colt from breeder Gail Rice for $1,000
Medina Spirit is a fighter who doesn’t like to be passed and he had the advantage of being ridden by Johnny Velazquez, who last year won the Derby on Authentic (also an underrated Baffert horse). Churchill Downs proved to be an excellent meet for Velazquez who also won the Kentucky Oaks on Malathaat. This was Velasquez’s fourth Kentucky Derby win and Baffert’s seventh, giving him the most Derby wins of any trainer.