Medina Spirit’s Story is More of a Longshot than the Kentucky Derby Win
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Medina Spirit
If you think the U.S. hockey team beating the Russians at the 1980 Olympics was a miracle, then what happened Saturday in Louisville at Churchill Downs was an impossibility.
That’s because the horse that went wire to wire in the most prestigious horse race — the Kentucky Derby — was among the longest of longshots ever to be loaded into the gate in the 147-year history of the Run For The Roses.
Flashback to January 27, 2019 at a thoroughbred sale in Ocala, Fla. That day, more than 400 horses would be sold. The most for $200,000 and 23 horses sold for the minimum $1,000, meaning they only received a single bid.
Of those 23 horses was a horse with hip number 448. A yearling out of Protonico and Mongolia Changa, hardly names that got anyone to pull out their wallet.
“This colt came up and no one was even looking at him because of his page,” Christy Whitman, who bought the horse that day, told Brisnet. “I never even heard of Protonico at the time. I had to look him up to see where the stallion even stood.”
Whitman took a shot on the horse that would be named Medina Spirit and Saturday that horse, who was bought a year later for $35,000, made a mockery out of horse racing’s practice of spending big bucks based on bloodlines.
On this day at the Derby, Medina Spirit’s first prize purse was worth $1.86 million.
Against all odds, this horse ran in five races, winning two and never finishing worse than second, including the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby.
On Saturday, Medina Spirit was bypassed by 10 of the 11 NBC commentators and handicappers when asked to choose who was going to win.
In winning, Medina Spirit beat out the favorite, Essential Quality, owned by the mighty Goldolphin Stables, which is owned by a Dubai sheikh with a seemingly endless amount of money. His horse came from the best bloodline made up of with the highest-priced sires in horse racing in A.P. Indy, Storm Cat and Tapit.
In 2009, America fell in love with the crazy story of Mine That Bird, who was bought for a measly $9,500 as a yearling and won the Derby as a 50-1 longshot.
Don’t let the 12-1 closing odds fool you, that Medina Spirit got into the starting gate and won as the sun went down on the spires on Saturday is Seabiscuit levels more unlikely.
Yes, the horse that won the biggest race in the world might have never set his hoofs on any track if Christy Whitman wasn’t there that day in Ocala.