Kentucky Derby 2021 Recap – Baffert Strikes Record 7th Time – Super Screener
Super Screener

Kentucky Derby 2021 Recap – Baffert Strikes Record 7th Time

Photo by: Eclipse Sportswire

Baffert made it back-to-back Kentucky Derby wins and Medina Spirit gave him his 7th overall Derby victory which breaks the record for most wins in this race by a trainer. Remarkably, Bob Baffert has won 4 of the last 7 editions of this 1st jewel of the Triple Crown.

As we look back at the race, the pace was very moderate on a glib track, even more so than projected. This can be attributed to the fact that the two other horses that were to be on the front end with Medina Spirit didn’t show up. Rock Your World was clocked by both Highly Motivated and Essential Quality and was taken out of the race — he was a critical pace player. Midnight Bourbon, who was supposed to go the front, according to connections, bumped with Dynamic One at the start and he held back rather than being rushed into contention. All of this meant that Medina Spirit was left alone on the lead through easy fractions… as we say, “he was very pace advantaged.”  His BRIS running line coming out of the Derby looked like this:

Note, that his BRIS 1st  Call and 2nd Call figures of 87 and 93 submitted in this race were the slowest of his 6 career races which led to the perfect trip. 

Here’s what we said about this horse rated as a top “B” player:

#8 Medina Spirit – Came up the bridesmaid in his last two starts as his now sidelined, former Kentucky Derby favorite stablemate, Life Is Good, and SA Derby winner, Rock Your World, were just too much for him. However, he is the undisputed 2nd best horse on the West Coast and, unquestionably a top “B” horse. He has never missed the Exacta and that’s because there is no quit in him. He is highly competitive and just keeps digging in when challenged. The only thing missing from his running lines is 90+ Late Pace figures when going 8.5 or 9 furlongs. This was his 5th race without a break and Baffert wasn’t afraid to keep putting him into the game because of his toughness and ability to recover from races very quickly. The Santa Anita Derby was his first race back since surgery for an entrapped epiglottis so a modest move forward here in the Kentucky Derby would not be out of the question given more recovery time. He’ll sit a great trip probably 3 lengths off the pace and then he’ll just need to dig deep and find something more if he is going to get past the top 4 picks. Added ground isn’t the challenge, it’s whether he can use his determination to keep a sustained bid to the wire. Solid “under” play. With Caddo River coming out of the race that really works to Medina Spirit’s favor as there just isn’t that much early speed in this race now. Looking very good in the morning works. A top “under” player.

Considering the slower pace set up and the perfect trip enjoyed by Medina Spirit, the horses coming out of this race that one should follow include a Super Screener “A” horse, Essential Quality, and a Top Long Shot pick, O’Besos. They both ran against the race flow which can be characterized as “merry-go-round” in which top three finishers didn’t change position over the last 3 furlongs of the race and all three being forwardly placed throughout. 
Essential Quality bumped hard with Rock Your World out of the gate and lost ground early but he ran tough making up ground and then getting into contention late running in tandem with the top three to the wire. O Besos finished 5th and was the top finisher that came from the furthest back overcoming the slow pace. That was a particularly strong effort and bodes well for his next start.

One other horse to mention is Keepmeinmind. He came from 19th in the field to finish 7th in a trip that was troubled. He appears to be returning to his solid 2 year-old form that put him in the mix with horses like Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie. 

The Preakness Stakes now looms big and is just two weeks away. Will Medina Spirit enjoy another perfect trip and give trainer Bob Baffert another shot at the Triple Crown? Which of those horses that had sneaky good trips in the Derby will come back to run in the Preakness at huge odds? We’ll be digging over these next two weeks to work toward a successful Preakness outcome.

Time to get ready for the Preakness and go for nailing 2 out of 3 in this Triple Crown. 

Mike Shutty

Super Screener Author