The 2021 Kentucky Derby came and went and wouldn’t you know it? Saturday’s race resembled the 2020 Run for the Roses that happened just eight months ago. The greatest horse racing trainer in U.S. history notched a record seventh Kentucky Derby victory when Medina Spirit crossed the finish line first. Check out a review of Medina Spirit’s performance along with reviews of the three horses that finished right behind the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner.
Kentucky Derby: Top 4 Finishers Review
2021 Kentucky Derby
- When: Saturday, May 1, 2021
- Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY
First: Medina Spirit
Trainer Bob Baffert didn’t expect much from his lone Kentucky Derby entrant. Entering March, Baffert had the strongest hand in the race. Life Is Good was the unquestioned leader of the division while Concert Tour was second-choice.
Medina Spirit supposedly didn’t have the breeding or speed to win on the First Saturday in May. How did Baffert’s third-string three-year-old win the world’s most famous horse race?
Rock Your World got slammed from both sides and ended up losing precious lengths. Midnight Bourbon didn’t go for the front and neither did Hot Rod Charlie. Jockey Johnny Velasquez, noticing that nobody wanted the lead, hustled Medina Spirit to the front.
The Baffert runner coasted, much like Authentic, and easily held off Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie in the stretch. Luck had something to do with it, yes, but the truth is that Johnny V. was brave when no other jockey in the race was.
Brad Cox trained Mandaloun ran great to finish second. After the horrendous performance in the Louisiana Derby, some didn’t believe the Juddmonte owned horse had any shot.
Mandaloun made a valiant effort to catch Medina Spirit. But the presser didn’t get the right set up. Expect Cox to instruct the jockey to send Mandaloun if the horse runs in the Preakness. Pressuring Medina Spirit may be the only way to beat the Baffert runner.
Third: Hot Rod Charlie
As they turned for home, the Doug O’Neil trained runner looked like the winner. Hot Rod Charlie has a nice turn of foot and he appeared to be motoring home the best. But Medina Spirit wouldn’t be denied.
Also, the winner got away with a soft second-quarter, which allowed Medina Spirit to coast to the finish line. Like Cox, expect O’Neil to tell his jockey to pressure the Derby winner from the start if Hot Rod runs in the Preakness.
Fourth: Essential Quality
Essential Quality may have run the second-best race. The Derby favorite had no choice but to go wide around both turns. Try as he might, the Tapit sired runner couldn’t kick it up a notch to get past Hot Rod, Mandaloun, or Medina Spirit.
Brad Cox may send Essential Quality to the bench for the Preakness. Tapit sired horses usually grow from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in June, the traditional day thoroughbred racing runs the Belmont Stakes.
Quality could excel in the Test of Champions. He ran great and should be considered a Belmont Stakes favorite if Cox decides to skip the Preakness and run the 2020 two-year-old champ at Big Sandy.