Quotable From 2021 Kentucky Derby: What the Trainers, Riders Had to Say

The field rounds the final turn in the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Medina Spirit won the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve by a half-length on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Hear what the trainers and jockeys who competed in the first jewel of the Triple Crown had to say about the 1 1/4-mile classic race, the winner's performance, and how their horse fared.

“Every time I asked him to give more he kept fighting on. You couldn’t ask for more of a horse. When you ride a horse like this who is competitive you can’t ask for anything else.”

-John Velazquez, rider of winner Medina Spirit

“This little horse coming in here, he’s always shown he’s an overachiever. His heart is bigger than his body. When he turned for home, something just told me. He reminded me of Silver Charm (Baffert’s 1st Derby winner). He doesn’t know how much he cost. He wouldn’t let anyone pass him. Mr. Zedan wanted to come to the Derby with a $45,000 horse. I thought we’d see what happens. This horse, the way he ran, I didn’t know he had it in him. Johnny Velazquez is unbelievable. He’s so cool. He told me last night not to underestimate this horse. He’s better than you think.”

-Bob Baffert, trainer of Medina Spirit

“He absolutely ran his heart out. Words can’t describe how proud I am of him. What a race and what a horse. Well done to trainer Brad Cox. He got him ready to run off the Louisiana Derby effort. He showed us he is the horse we always thought. We just got beat.”

-Florent Geroux, rider of runner-up Mandaloun

“I’m proud; very proud. He ran huge. It looked to me like he had a good trip. But Flavin (rider Flavien Prat) might have a different take on that. We’re honored and blessed to have a horse like this. I’m so proud of him. And know for sure that he’ll be back.”

-Doug O'Neill, trainer of third-place finisher Hot Rod Charlie

“He bumped pretty good (with Rock Your World) out of the gate. We ended up getting pretty wide the entire trip which didn’t help either.”

-Luis Saez, jockey of fourth-place finisher Essential Quality

“He didn’t get the greatest trip as he was wide around both turns. That can happen when you start from the 14 hole, especially when don’t get off to a good start. He was leaning out on the far turn and Luis (Saez) said he was shying away from the other horses. We will just have to regroup. Proud of both horses. They trained well and just wish the order of finish was just a little different.”

-Brad Cox, trainer of Essential Quality

From left to right, Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun, and Medina Spirit battle down the stretch in the Kentucky Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

"He got a little head strong in the stretch for the first time but I got him settled into the perfect spot. He was moving so comfortably around the turn and we got in the perfect spot to make a run at the leaders. He’s a phenomenal horse.”

-Marcelino Pedroza, who rode O Besos to a fifth-place finish

“I have to be proud of his effort. He ran a good race and I’m very thankful for Robertino (Diodoro) for being so loyal to us.”

-David Cohen, rider of seventh-place finisher Keepmeinmind

“He never got into position. He made a move around the far turn but got shuffled back. I’m going to have to watch the replay.”

-Todd Pletcher, trainer of ninth-place finisher Known Agenda

“I thought I got a great trip, into the first turn and down the backside, and he just didn't fire today. I thought I got a hot setup and I wanted to be just behind that and that's where we were. He got over early, he saved ground on both turns; I got a dream trip. I hate to waste that kind of trip in the Derby on a horse that didn't fire today. It is what it is and we'll just have to regroup."

-Chad Brown, trainer of tenth-place finisher Highly Motivated

“It was pretty much over after the break. We got out of position from there and it was a tough trip to overcome in a race like the Derby.”

-Joel Rosario, jockey of seventeenth-place finisher Rock Your World, who broke awkwardly

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