Never count out a Bob Baffert horse in the Kentucky Derby.
That is the lesson we all learned again Saturday, when Medina Spirit took the Kentucky Derby over Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie.
Medina Spirit handed Baffert a record seventh Kentucky Derby victory as a trainer. The colt is the second consecutive winner at Churchill Downs for Baffert after Authentic captured the 2020 crown, and he is the fourth champion in the past seven years for the Hall of Fame trainer.
Finishing Order and Payout
1. Medina Spirit: $1.86 million
2. Mandaloun: $600,000
3. Hot Rod Charlie: $300,000
4. Essential Quality: $150,000
5. O Besos: $90,000
6. Midnight Bourbon
9. Known Agenda
10. Highly Motivated
12. Like The King
14. Hidden Stash
15. Brooklyn Strong
16. Super Stock
17. Rock Your World
18. Dynamic One
19. Soup and Sandwich
Medina Spirit's win was one of the unlikeliest of Baffert's seven Kentucky Derby triumphs.
Saturday's winner went off at 12-1. Baffert's past three champions at Churchill Downs were either the favorites or second on the odds chart.
Medina Spirit led for a majority of the 1 ¼ miles, fending off challenges from pre-race favorite Essential Quality and Rock Your World. The horse's story is remarkable, as he was bought as a $1,000 yearling before progressing into the best healthy three-year-old in Baffert's stable.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Baffert said on the NBC broadcast. "I'm so spoiled bringing these heavy-duty horses in here, but I'll tell you that little horse has got a heart, such a big heart."
Medina Spirit will try to follow in the footsteps of American Pharoah and Justify, who both won the Triple Crown for Baffert. Authentic did not have a chance to chase that after his Derby win because the Belmont Stakes was the first Triple Crown race of the adjusted schedule in 2020.
Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie ended up in second and third, respectively, behind the winner. Essential Quality came in fourth and was one of two horses trained by Brad H. Cox to land in the top four.
The second-place finisher was the biggest surprise in the top four. He entered the starting gate with longer odds than Medina Spirit.
The most shocking outcome outside of the top four was second-favorite Rock Your World landing near the back of the pack in 17th.
Medina Spirit will race again May 15 at the Preakness Stakes. The field is unconfirmed for that race, but typically a handful of Derby horses enter depending on how they look after the first Triple Crown leg.