Derby Profile of #8 Ranked Medina Spirit

Horse Racing Radar
Frisco Bash
Frisco Bash is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, March 19, 2021

MEDINA SPIRIT takes the stage in this edition of the Derby Profile. He's ranked #8 on the KY Derby Leaderboard with 20 points. 10 points came from his victory in the Robert Beverly Lewis Stakes, 20 points for his second place finish in the San Felipe Stakes (G2), and 4 points for his second place finish in the Sham Stakes (G3).

This is a colt who, if it weren't for his stablemate LIFE IS GOOD, would probably be one of the favorites of the Kentucky Derby right now. He has lost to LIFE IS GOOD twice but MEDINA SPIRIT is still a major Derby contender due to his versatility on the front end. He can set the pace or sit off of it, and battle all the way to the wire. He's never finished worse than second in four starts.

Compared with the rest of the Kentucky Derby prospects, MEDINA SPIRIT owns the highest early speed rating of them all — save for CADDO RIVER, who tied him from a maiden victory. Nevertheless, it's quite a statement to own a better early speed rating than LIFE IS GOOD. How is this possible? Well, the paper favored MEDINA SPIRIT's Robert Beverly Lewis effort, where he dueled early and ran a hot :22.8 and :46.3 for opening splits before ultimately going on to win. That was faster than LIFE IS GOOD's opening fractions over the same distance — :23.6 and :46.8 — while uncontested! Let's not dismiss MEDINA SPIRIT so easily.

MEDINA SPIRIT's best performance so far might even be the Sham Stakes (G3) even though he came up short. It's where he flashed his strongest late-race kick, going a shorter distance. The metrics say the late speed he showed is competitive enough to win the Derby. Yet it's still a head scratcher why he did not run back to this effort in his most recent start.

MEDINA SPIRIT is a long-striding colt by PROTONICO out of MONGOLIAN CHANGA by BRILLIANT SPEED. Can he endure the one mile and one-quarter Kentucky Derby distance? We can find hints from his sire PROTONICO, who was a dual-Grade 3 winner at age three, plus who showed his routing ability when he ran one of his best speed figures in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at the classic distance.

On paper, MEDINA SPIRIT has the wherewithal to run big on Derby day and win. He checks off the early, middle, and late speed criterion. But visually, we'd want to see a rebound effort from his defeat last time out. What will it take? Probably a vacation from LIFE IS GOOD until the Kentucky Derby. Or maybe Bob Baffert puts the blinkers back on MEDINA SPIRIT for these upcoming races and it sharpens his edge. Remember that MEDINA SPIRIT broke his maiden with them on.

There were some talks in the Horse Racing Community that MEDINA SPIRIT wasn't given a chance to win his last race — that his role in the San Felipe was to assist LIFE IS GOOD over his own interests. This is based off what we saw entering the first turn on the San Felipe Stakes. Jockey John Velazquez kept his horse MEDINA SPIRIT on the 3-path into the first turn, floating THE GREAT ONE 3wide, consequently putting LIFE IS GOOD in an uncontested position, almost three lengths in front. This may have decided the race. MEDINA SPIRIT somewhat neutralized himself and THE GREAT ONE from applying early pressure. THE GREAT ONE would've had to be sent early and go 3wide to apply pressure — and then be committed for the duration of the race. Whatever the strategy was, MEDINA SPIRIT still could've finish stronger than he did. He still has to improve to stay competitive with our top ranked horses.

Currently, MEDINA SPRIT is a probable for both the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Arkansas Derby (G1). If he chooses Santa Anita, he'll have to contend with LIFE IS GOOD, DREAMSHAKE, and IT'S MY HOUSE. If he chooses Arkansas he looks to face CONCERT TOUR, CADDO RIVER, KEEPMEINMIND, PREVALENCE, SPIELBERG, CANDY MAN ROCKET.

MEDINA SPIRIT has not worked out since his last race on March 6th. He's got 2 wins and 2 seconds from 4 total starts. We'll have to wait until we see his upcoming workouts to get a clue as to how he's come off his last race, and where he'll be pointed to next. Stay tuned!


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