LOUISVILLE — Bob Baffert was in seventh heaven Saturday evening.
That's because Medina Spirit won the 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, giving the trainer his record seventh win in the Run for the Roses.
"I just can't believe it. It hasn't sunken in yet," Baffert told NBC immediately after the race. "I love the record and all that, but you know what, it's one of those things where I'm just so thrilled because when you win it you never know if you're ever going to be back, because it's so difficult."
It was also the fourth victory over jockey John Velazquez, who became the eighth rider to win the Kentucky Oaks and the Derby in the same year after piloting Malahaat to victory Friday.
Medina Spirit, which went off at 12-1 odds, surged to the early lead and held it for most of the race. Mandaloun briefly surged into the lead at midstretch to post before Medina Spirit responded back and won the 1 1/4-mile race by a half-length in 2 minutes, 1.02 seconds before a crowd of 51,838.
The victory broke Baffert's tie with Ben Jones for most Derby triumphs. He previously won with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), Triple Crown winner Justify (2018) and Authentic (2020).
This one, however, wasn't as expected as many of the previous races.
Medina Spirit cost only $1,000 as a yearling and owner Amr bin Fareer bin Mohammed bin Zedan purchased him for $35,000 as a 2-year-old.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Baffert said. "His owner, Amr, I told him, 'I think we've got a chance, but maybe... .' 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."
"I couldn't be prouder of my team. That little horse, he won it today. He doesn't know how much he cost, but you know what, what a little race horse. He was all race horse today."