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2021 Kentucky Derby Recap: Trip Notes and Analysis
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2021 Kentucky Derby Recap: Trip Notes and Analysis

It’s time to wrap up a memorable 147th Kentucky Derby that saw Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit hold off a late charge from the Brad Cox trained Mandaloun in a dramatic stretch run.

The big upset makes for an interesting lead up to the Preakness Stakes (G1) two weeks from now at Pimlico. Before we move on, here are my thoughts on the trips and performances of all 19 Kentucky Derby runners, as well as what the future holds for each horse.

1st: Medina Spirit – When this horse gets the lead, it’s extremely tough to pass him. Even though he set reasonable early fractions, and had a great trip, he still had to dig down deep to hold off the charge of solid horses down the stretch. Mandaloun looked like he was going to go by him at the top of the stretch, but Medina Spirit kept finding more, keeping him from getting past. This horse is never going to be mistaken for a super star, but he’s got a super heart, and that goes a long ways.

2nd: Mandaloun – It was nice to see him bounce back and run to his capabilities in this one. The horse also got a perfect trip, stalking the pace on the inside and saving all the ground. As they turned for home, it looked like he was poised to win the Kentucky Derby, but just couldn’t get by the hard fighting Medina Spirit. Regardless, he’s back into the picture amongst this division in a big way.

3rd: Hot Rod Charlie – This horse drew the perfect position, and got a great trip, stalking the early pace setters and saving ground with a 2-wide journey throughout. When turning for home, he swung to the outside with a big chance, but just couldn’t get by the top two horses. There is no doubt this guy likes to battle, though, as he kept fighting and wouldn’t let Essential Quality get past him the entire stretch.

4th: Essential Quality – A lot of people will be talking about the 68 more feet this horse traveled compared to the winner. There is no question his wide trip throughout the race really cost him. When you draw outside, and when you’re the Kentucky Derby favorite, you are supposed to be able to overcome these kinds of things, but he just wasn’t quite good enough to do it. He still looks like he might be the best horse in this crop, though, and a better trip next time out will likely land him back in the winner’s circle.

5th: O Besos – Give this horse credit for being one of the only closers to actually make a run from the back of the pack. He was able to work out a pretty good trip as well, tucked inside, and saving ground. His connections have to be pleased with the effort.

6th: Midnight Bourbon – This horse didn’t get an ideal trip by any standards, so it was nice to see him try to overcome it, and still run hard to finish 6th. After a poor start saw him drop way behind where he usually likes to sit, Mike Smith took him to the outside, keeping him in the clear. That forced him to race wide into the last turn, which probably didn’t help matters.

7th: Keepmeinmind – After running in last place early in the race, this horse actually made a nice closing kick, passing a ton of horses down the stretch. He also had to go very wide on the turn, which may have cost him a couple of positions as well.

8th: Helium – It was really shocking to see him sitting so close to the pace. At one point he was within a couple of lengths of the lead, which is not usually where he wants to be. When the real running began he faded; however, he still hung around decently to finish better than most of these horses. He might be one to watch moving forward.

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9th: Known Agenda –  The rail strikes again! After a solid break from the gate, it looked like Known Agenda might be ok, but then he had to check several times as the other horses begin to press down from the outside. That forced him to fall way too far back, ending any chance he had of winning. Considering the post and trip, this is not a horse to give up on, though.

10th: Highly Motivated – This one was a bit disappointing as he turned for home with a decent chance to do some damage, but came up empty in the lane. He was able to get decent early position as well, which makes it that much more frustrating. He is probably a horse that needs a distance cutback after this one.

11th: Sainthood – He sat a little closer than anticipated in this race, while also racing four-wide on the first turn. After chasing the front runners for most of the race, he faded a bit in the stretch to finish 11th. They can probably build off this effort by him.

12th: Like the King – Like many horses that we’ll talk about throughout this article, he dropped towards the back, just hoping to make a big run at the end and pass tired horses. Also, just like many horses in this article, he just wasn’t good enough to pass very many.

13th: Bourbonic – Kenrick Carmouche did a smart thing guiding this horse to the rail from the far outside post, saving ground, and just hoping he’d come with a late run. He did end up passing a few horses; however, he just wasn’t good enough to pass that many.

14th: Hidden Stash – This horse took back to his normal come from behind position; however, he made very little rally down the stretch. He’s just not as good as these horses.

15th: Brooklyn Strong – Not much to look at here…he started 15th, and he finished 15th. He had no business being in this race.

16th: Super Stock – After a decent break from the gate, he sat about mid-pack in the early stages of the race, before coming up empty in the lane. It looked as though this spot was just a little too tough for him.

17th: Rock Your World – This was a total disaster. First, jockey Joel Rosario’s foot slipped out to the stirrups leaving the gate, which was obviously not ideal. The horse was then pinched badly, falling back to last, before somewhat recovering to run up and sit mid-pack, racing extremely wide. From there, he did very little running when called on to quicken, and it was over. He never got comfortable the entire race. Brutal trip.

18th: Dynamic One – A poor start forced him fall to the back of the pack early, and from that moment on he did very little running.

19th: Soup and Sandwich – He sat the perfect trip the entire race, stalking the pace setting Medina Spirit, but bumped with Mandaloun at the top of the stretch and faded to last. It was later discovered that he displaced his palate in the race, making this a throw out for him.

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