Medina Spirit Returns a Winner in Shared Belief

Bob Baffert welcomes Medina Spirit and John Velazquez back to Del Mar winner's circle | Benoit

Zedan Racing Stable's Medina Spirit (Protonico), whose GI Kentucky Derby title still remains in limbo due to a betamethasone positive, returned to the winner's circle with a wire-to-wire victory in the Shared Belief S. at Del Mar Sunday. The dark bay colt, sent off the 4-5 favorite, went quickly to the lead and was tracked by second choice Rock Your World (Candy Ride {Arg}) through a quarter in :22.52 and a half in :46.92. The two favorites were swarmed by longshots nearing the stretch as GI Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World drifted out slightly in upper stretch and Team Merchants (Nyquist) and Stilleto Boy (Shackleford) exchanged bumps, but Medina Spirit ran straight and true and powered home a one-length winner over the resurgent Rock Your World. Following an inquiry into the infractions in upper stretch, the stewards determined Team Merchants, who finished fourth, was responsible for the interference with third-place finisher Stilleto Boy and allowed the order of finish to stand.

“It's a relief. A Shared Belief relief,” winning trainer Bob Baffert admitted.

Winning rider John Velazquez said, “It went the way we wanted it. Once I made the lead into the first turn, I felt better. He was moving well. When he got on the backside, his ears went up and he was really cruising. When a horse would come to him, he'd pick it up on his own. When we got to the quarter pole, I said, 'Let's go; time to pick it up.' And he was right into it. He finished strong and the gallop-out was strong, too. He can build off this race.”

Medina Spirit, who was supplemented to the Shared Belief last week, was making his first start since finishing third in the May 15 GI Preakness S. Just a week after he upset the May 1 Kentucky Derby with a wire-to-wire victory at 12-1, trainer Bob Baffert announced the colt had tested positive for the regulated anti-inflammatory betamethasone. His victory remains a question mark as connections argue the positive was the result of a skin ointment.

“I did not have any intention of running him in this race until a couple weeks ago,” Baffert said. “I started thinking about it, figuring it couldn't come up that tough. Then [son] Bode said,  'You know Rock Your World's running there?' For what this horse has gone through, he's such a game horse and I wanted to run him here and see if he likes Del Mar. I've never had a Derby winner come back and win here so that's a first. He looks good and John said he feels better than ever. There's still some good racing for him out there. We're waiting for the process to happen.”

Prior to his Derby, Medina Spirit was second behind Life is Good (Into Mischief) in the Jan. 2 GIII Sham S. and won the Jan. 30 GIII Robert B. Lewis S. He was second again to then-stablemate Life Is Good in the Mar. 6 GII San Felipe S. and entered the Derby off a runner-up effort behind Rock Your World in the Apr. 3 GI Santa Anita Derby.

Sunday, Del Mar

SHARED BELIEF S., $100,500, Del Mar, 8-29, 3yo, 1m, 1:37.29, ft.
1–MEDINA SPIRIT, 124, c, 3, by Protonico
                1st Dam: Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed
                2nd Dam: Bridled, by Unbridled
                3rd Dam: Holy Niner, by Holy Bull
($1,000 Ylg '19 OBSWIN; $35,000 2yo '20 OBSOPN). O-Zedan
Racing Stables, Inc.; B-Gail Rice (FL); T-Bob Baffert; J-John R.
Velazquez. $60,000. Lifetime Record: 8-4-3-1, $2,345,200.
2–Rock Your World, 124, c, 3, Candy Ride (Arg)–Charm the
Maker, by Empire Maker. ($650,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Hronis
Racing LLC & Talla Racing LLC; B-Ron & Deborah McAnally (KY);
T-John W. Sadler. $20,000.
3–Stilleto Boy, 124, g, 3, Shackleford–Rosie's Ransom, by
Marquetry. ($420,000 3yo '21 FTKHRA). O-Steve Moger;
B-John & Iveta Kerber (KY); T-Ed Moger, Jr. $12,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 2 1/4, 1. Odds: 0.90, 1.60, 22.50.
Also Ran: The Great One, Team Merchants, Willy the Cobbler.
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