Medina Spirit wins 147th Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Medina Spirit won the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, topping a field of 19 horses in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

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Medina Spirit, listed as 12-1 odds at post time, gave trainer Bob Baffert his record seventh Kentucky Derby win. It was also the fourth Derby win for jockey John Velazquez, who also won the Derby in 2020 aboard Authentic.

“That little horse wanted it today,” Baffert said after the race.

Mandaloun, a 26-1 shot, finished second, followed by 5-1 shot Hot Rod Charlie. Favorite Essential Quality, previously unbeaten as a 3-year-old and a 3-1 favorite at post time, finished fourth. The final time for the 1 1/4-mile race was 2:01.02.

The 20th horse in the field, King Fury, was scratched.

Medina Spirit, a Florida-bred son of Protonico, was bought in 2020 for $35,000.

This year’s race, the first jewel in the Triple Crown series, returned to its traditional spot of the first Saturday in May. In 2020, the Derby was moved to September because of the coronavirus pandemic and was second in the Triple Crown lineup after the Belmont Stakes. The Preakness, normally the middle race in the Triple Crown lineup, was the final race in 2020.

Last year, there were no fans in the stands at Churchill Downs for the Derby, which regularly brings a crowd of more than 150,000 to the track, The New York Times reported. While organizers did not provide a set limit for this year’s race, reserved seating was limited to between 40% and 60% of capacity and general admission was held to 25% to 30% capacity, the newspaper reported.

Saturday’s attendance was announced at 51,838.

>> Photos: Fans, flowery hats flock to 2021 Kentucky Derby

Fans this year were required to have temperature checks as they entered Churchill Downs and had to wear masks unless eating or drinking, the Times reported.

In addition to the changed date, there was a shift in tone last year. The state’s official song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” normally a singalong for Derby attendees, was played by a bugler as an instrumental and was preceded by a moment of silence.

The past year has been a turbulent one in Louisville, which was part of a national movement for racial justice after the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, who was killed by police during a raid in March 2020.

There were changes in the race, too. On Saturday, Kendrick Carmouche rode Bourbonic to became the first Black jockey to ride in the Derby since Kevin Krigger in 2013, the Courier-Journal reported. Black jockeys originally dominated the Derby, with Oliver Lewis winning the inaugural race in 1875. Black jockeys won 15 of the first 28 races, according to the Kentucky Derby website. No Black jockeys rode in the race between 1921 and 2000, according to Smithsonian Magazine; the last Black rider to win the Derby was Jimmy Winkfield in 1901 and 1902.

For the first time, the Derby was run without horses using the anti-bleeding drug Lasix, The Associated Press reported. The drug is already widely banned on race days at other tracks worldwide.

There was another shift in tone last year. Kentucky’s official state song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” normally a singalong for Derby attendees, was played by a bugler as an instrumental and was preceded by a moment of silence.

This year, “My Old Kentucky Home,” written by Stephen Collins Foster, returned to its traditional performance as it was played by the University of Louisville marching band.

Vicki Oliver made her debut at the Derby, becoming the first female trainer since Carla Gaines in 2015, CNN reported. Oliver was the trainer for Hidden Stash.

A female trainer has never won the race.

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