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Underdog Kentucky Derby Winner 'Medina Spirit' Originally Bought for $1,000 as a Cheap Yearling

Medina Spirit was not always king of the racing world.

In fact, the winner of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby began his career a bargain-basement buy, purchased for $1,000. And even prior to winning the 147th running of the Derby, he did not get much respect. The horse went into the race at 12-1 odds, according to CBS News.

And that, according to racing insider Andrew Vanlangendonck, is the beauty of it all.

“He is the perfect example of why this industry is so great,” he said, according to an article on the official Kentucky Derby website.

“You can be a billionaire or a small breeder and still end up at the Derby.”

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The horse was bred by Gail Rice of Florida, who described him as a “standout.”

“He would give you that look, just the way he moved across the field,” she said.

“He was a little pushy in the field with his friends. He respected everybody, but he played hard.”

Rice was not able to keep the horse and put him up for sale without much interest.

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“The first foal of a nondescript mare from a family that wasn’t current, sired by a freshman without commercial appeal, he had little chance of getting noticed,” the Derby article read.

Christy Whitman of Whitman Sales was checking the back ring, where the less-famous horses are sold.

“I buy pretty much all my horses out of the back ring,” Whitman said. “I don’t have enough money to buy the ones I pick out at the barns, and in the meantime I would have ended up missing a good one like Medina Spirit or Wells Bayou. It’s not a system that works for everyone, but I know what I’m looking for and if I can afford them I buy the ones that have the attributes that I like.”

“This colt had all the things I look for when selecting horses: well balanced, good walk, decently correct with a good hip and athletic build,” she said.

Whitman walked off with the horse for the minimum bid of $1,000.

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“I was the only one to bid on him, and I remember his owner/breeder coming over to thank me for buying him, and I told her the colt would show back up at a two-year-old sale,” she said.

“The colt was always easy to work with and had a great mind and beautiful stride.”

Whitman later sold the horse for $35,000, a bargain given his achievement Saturday.

“Medina Spirit might be overlooked because he doesn’t have a flashy pedigree or expensive price tag, but to me he has more heart than any horse in the field,” Whitman said.

“Medina Spirit has never lost to any horse that has stared him in the eye, and if everyone else doesn’t get a picture-perfect trip on the front end, and Medina can take them head-on to a battle down the lane, then he’s got a fighting chance to win something big for all us no-pedigreed little people.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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