By Alan Carasso
Zedan Racing Stables' Medina Spirit (Protonico) set a searching early pace in Saturday's GIII Robert B. Lewis S. over a Santa Anita main track that yielded below-par times in the aftermath of storms that dropped as much as 2 1/2 inches of rain in and around Arcadia. He was there for the taking in the final eighth of a mile, but the Florida-bred dug in doggedly to take a three-way photo from Roman Centurian (Empire Maker) and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow).
“That reminded me a little bit of Silver Charm,” said trainer Bob Baffert, winning the race named in honor of Silver Charm's beloved part-owner for the ninth time. “He had every reason to give it up late in the stretch [when] those horses came to him. I thought he was beat. I thought they were going to get by and he wouldn't let them by, he fought on.”
Hard sent from gate one by the oft-aggressive Abel Cedillo, Medina Spirit was intent on making the running, but had plenty of pace pressure from longshot Parnelli (Quality Road) and Wipe The Slate (Nyquist) through a fast opening quarter in :22.89. Parnelli took back a bit into third, but the pace was still very much on past the half-mile in a taxing :46.61. Medina Spirit was still going along nicely, while Hot Rod Charlie was working his way into it four deep on the track. Under the pump, but clinging grimly to the lead after six panels in 1:12.36, Medina Spirit looked to be a sitting duck as Hot Rod Charlie and Roman Centurian came at him, but he found just enough at the fence to scrape in first.
A three-length maiden winner at first asking at Los Alamitos Dec. 11, Medina Spirit chased his 'TDN Rising Star' stable companion Life Is Good (Into Mischief) every step of the way in the GIII Sham S. Jan. 2 and was doing much the better of the two through the final eighth of a mile, pulling back significant ground to be beaten three-parts of a length. Medina Spirit is the first and only listed produce for his dam. Florida-based horsewoman Gail Rice, whose broodmare band currently consists of just two mares, is also the breeder of last year's GI Central Bank Ashland S. winner Speech (Mr Speaker) (Click here for a TDN feature on Rice).
Medina Spirit is one of three winners from 21 reported foals for his sire and was knocked down for the upset price of $1,000 as a short yearling at the OBS Winter Mixed Sale in 2019. As agent for Zedan, Gary Young signed the ticket on Medina Spirit at $35,000 at the delayed OBS June sale last summer after the colt was one of three horses to breeze three-eighths of a mile in :33 flat. Medina Spirit is the first and only listed produce for his dam.
Saturday, Santa Anita
ROBERT B. LEWIS S.-GIII, $100,500, Santa Anita, 1-30, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:46.26, gd.
1–MEDINA SPIRIT, 120, c, 3, by Protonico
1st Dam: Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed
2nd Dam: Bridled, by Unbridled
3rd Dam: Holy Niner, by Holy Bull
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($1,000 Ylg
'19 OBSWIN; $35,000 2yo '20 OBSOPN). O-Zedan Racing
Stables Inc; B-Gail Rice (FL); T-Bob Baffert; J-Abel Cedillo.
$60,000. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0, $105,200. *First stakes
winner for sire (by Giant's Causeway). Werk Nick Rating: C+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Roman Centurian, 120, c, 3, Empire Maker–Spare Change, by
Bernardini. ($550,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Don Alberto Stable
and Qatar Racing Limited; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY);
T-Simon Callaghan. $20,000.
3–Hot Rod Charlie, 120, c, 3, Oxbow–Indian Miss, by Indian
Charlie. ($17,000 Ylg '19 FTKFEB; $110,000 Ylg '19 FTKOCT).
O-Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, LLC and Strauss, William;
B-Edward A. Cox (KY); T-Doug F. O'Neill. $12,000.
Margins: NK, NO, 11. Odds: 1.00, 11.20, 2.50.
Also Ran: Spielberg, Parnelli, Wipe the Slate. Scratched: Rombauer, Waspirant. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.