MEDINA SPIRIT returns in the Shared Belief Stakes

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Sunday, August 29, 2021

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 non-descript field.

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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