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Sold for £723 amid divorce to £1.4MILLION Kentucky Derby winner

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MEDINA SPIRIT went from being an unfancied £723 purchase – to a world-beating £1.4MILLION Kentucky Derby winner.

You have heard of outsiders, longshots and runners defying the odds.

Jockey Velazquez celebrates winning the Kentucky Derby on Medina Spirit

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Jockey Velazquez celebrates winning the Kentucky Derby on Medina SpiritCredit: Reuters
The horse won America's most famous race after being bought for just £723

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The horse won America’s most famous race after being bought for just £723Credit: AP

But has there ever been a rags to riches tale quite so impressive as Medina Spirit’s?

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The Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old surged clear to win America’s most famous race at Churchill Downs last night.

Behind were the likes of Essential Quality, the 5-2 pre-race favourite owned by racing powerhouses Godolphin.

Backed by the billionaire ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed, Godolphin are famed for spending big and winning big.

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So are Juddmonte, the Saudi-backed yard who own runner-up Mandaloun.

These are billionaires who think nothing of dropping hundreds of thousands on the top talent from a young age.

Then there is Medina Spirit.

Bred by Gail Rice in Florida, Rice had a trying few days with the youngster when Medina Spirit’s mare failed to produce any milk.

Medina Spirit was unstoppable in the Derby

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Medina Spirit was unstoppable in the DerbyCredit: Reuters
Rice sold the horse for just £723 when going through her divorce

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Rice sold the horse for just £723 when going through her divorce

She had to turn to her only other broodmare for assistance, with Medina Spirit forming a close bond with the horse who was not his own mother.

It did not stop the eventual Kentucky Derby winner from showing promise at an early age however – and it was only Rice’s devastating personal situation which forced the sale.

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She was going through a divorce with trainer Wayne Rice, and reluctantly had to give the horse up.

Amazingly, she would sell this eventual money-maker for just £723 as a yearling in winter 2019.

That was the only bid that came in, and for the lowest amount of money accepted.

Rice had no choice but to say yes.

She said: “I kept telling people, ‘this horse can run!’

“Just his body and his leg, and the intelligent attitude he had. I always thought he was special.”

Medina Spirit was subsequently spotted by a top bloodstock agent, who informed current owner and Saudi businessman Amr bin Fareer bin Mohammed bin Zedan of the promising sort.

Zedan, not short of a few bob himself, bought the two-year-old for just over £25,000 in July last year.

He then sent Medina Spirit to top US trainer Bob Baffert, who turned this once unfancied horse into a genuine superstar.

The horse is now among the top in the world after winning the Derby

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The horse is now among the top in the world after winning the DerbyCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Trainer Baffert celebrates a record seventh Kentucky Derby win

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Trainer Baffert celebrates a record seventh Kentucky Derby winCredit: AP

Going off at odds of 12-1 last night, it’s fair to say Medina Spirit was up against it.

But no one could get close down the home straight, and the win scooped a first-place prize of £1,357,664.

That amounts to more than 54 times what Zedan paid – and almost 2,000 times what Medina Spirit was originally sold for.

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No wonder Baffert, who won the race for a record seventh time, said afterwards: “I cannot believe he won this race. This little horse, that’s him – he was all guts.”

Turns out you can’t put a price on heart.

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