Kentucky Derby 2021 – Medina Spirit wins as 50,000 revelers flock to Churchill Downs for biggest US event since Covid

MEDINA Spirit won the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening, causing a major upset.

Jockey John Velazquez earned his fourth Derby victory aboard the 3-year-old brown colt, which was trained by the legendary Bob Baffert.

Medina Spirit ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.02, and entered the race with just the sixth-best odds at 12-1.

The colt triumphed over second-place Mandaloun, third-place Hot Rod Charlie and Derby favorite Essential Quality, who came in fourth.

The unlikely victory also handed Baffert his record seventh derby win as a trainer, making him the all-time most successful trainer in the event's history.

The attendance for the Derby was 51,838, which is believed to be the most attended event in the US since the pandemic began.

The number of those in attendance was around 100,000 fewer than usual.

Glamorous racegoers filed into famed Churchill Downs in Louisville to witness 'the most exciting two minutes in sports'.

The sun shone brightly for the real return of top class racing in the States.

And though the usual attendance figures were slashed by around a third for the big day, stunning photos showed lucky punters were in for a day to remember.

Colourful dresses and some interesting headwear – which appeared to include a Barbie doll fascinator – were on show.

And punters did their best to match their outfits with their facemasks, which still must be worn to keep in with guidelines.

Racing bosses there have said they fully expect a 'raucous crowd' for the $3 million contest.

But safety is paramount, with a statement on the Derby website reading: "The health and safety of our entire community, including our team and our fans, is always our primary concern and we remain focused on following sound and proven health and safety protocols while working toward the best experience possible for our guests."

The more-than 51,000 guests made the Kentucky Derby Even the biggest single-day sporting event in terms of attendance since coronavirus hit the US.

The biggest prior to Saturday's showpiece was when the Texas Rangers hosted just over 38,000 fans on April 5 for their baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Mattress salesman Jim McIngvale may have been one of the day's biggest losers, having earlier pledged to stake up to $2.4 million on bookies favorite Essential Quality.

The bet, if made, would be the largest in US horseracing history.

Another looking to make history was Kendrick Carmouche, the first black jockey in the big race since 2013.

Carmouche, who rode Bourbonic, sought to become the first black jockey to win the Derby in more than 100 years.

Speaking of his shot at history before the big race, he said: "As a black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn’t easy to get there and I never quit,

"What I’ve been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it’s not about colour.

"It’s about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point."

More to follow…

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