He's almost in a no win or must win situation.
The last time horseplayers saw MEDINA SPIRIT he was finishing
a well beaten third in the 2021 Preakness. A third in leg two of the Triple
Crown isn't a bad thing, but for MEDINA SPIRIT nothing short of a win would do. Fading late in the Pimlico afternoon forever tarnished
MEDINA SPIRIT's run for the roses. Of course, none of this is on the horse.
MEDINA SPIRIT was basking in the glory of an improbable
Kentucky Derby win when the news broke, he tested positive for a banned substance.
There is no need to rehash the details, everybody who follows horse racing
knows the story and has their own opinions.
Today, MEDINA SPIRIT attempts to start his road to reputation
recovery in the $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes Sunday afternoon at Del Mar. He's
the morning line favorite in the non-graded affair.
In a way, coming back to the track at this level could be
viewed as confirmation that minus some help, MEDINA SPIRIT cannot compete at
the highest level. At the very minimum, it looks bad. After debuting with an easy
win at Los Alamitos, MEDINA SPIRIT went straight to graded stakes, bypassing
races like the Shared Belief Stakes.
He could have just as easily competed in yesterday's Pat O'Brien
Stakes; a Breeders' Cup win and you are in race. Had he won the Pat O'Brien,
and then claimed the hardware for the Breeders' Cup Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile, MEDINA
SPIRIT's redemption, reputation restoration would be complete. Anything short
of a dominate win in the Shared Belief Stakes rekindles a smoldering fire that's
on the verge of burning out.
Under normal circumstances, the Shared Belief Stakes wouldn't
be a challenge for the reigning Kentucky Derby winner. Yesterday, two that
finished behind MEDINA SPIRIT at Churchill Downs ran in the $1.25 million
Travers Stakes at Saratoga with ESSENTIAL QUALITY getting by a game MIDNIGHT
BIURBON late. Does anybody really believe that ESSENTIAL QUALITY or MIDNIIGHT
BOURBON wouldn't smash the Shared Belied field?
WILLY THE COBBLER (PP: 1 ML 20-1) is moving up from a $50k
Allowance. ROCK YOUR WORLD (PP: 3 ML 8/5) beat MEDINA SPIRIT in the Santa Anita
Derby in his first dirt race but hasn't been closer than 22 lengths to winner
in his last two on dirt. TEAM MERCHENTS (PP: 4 ML 5-1) just won a $40k Optional
Claimer. THE GREAT ONE (PP: 5 ML 6-1) broke his maiden in his fifth try and
then faced MEDINA SPIRIT twice, finishing 15 ½ and 8 lengths behind. STILLETO
BOY (PP: 6 ML 6-1) has topped 90 on the speed gun two times in eight races, one
of which was a wire-to-wire win in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows versus a
Personally, I am rooting for MEDIAN SPIRIT the horse. Who
doesn't love good comeback story? I hope he takes care of the Shared Belief
Stakes and goes on to prove he's a legit, clean winner. Afterall, none of post-Kentucky
Derby nonsense/controversy is his fault.
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