Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit crushes older horses in Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes, winning by five lengths

October 3, 2021

Race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” qualifier to $6 Million BC Classic

ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 2, 2021)–Drama aside, Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winning Medina Spirit made a loud, emphatic statement on Saturday at Santa Anita:  Forget the drama and check the scoreboard as he seized command out of the gate and drilled a solid group of older horses in the Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes, winning by five lengths.  Ridden by John Velazquez, Florida-bred Medina Spirit got a mile and one eighth in 1:49.67.

As the Awesome Again is a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, Medina Spirit gets a fees-paid berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar Nov. 6.

Breaking from post position five in a field of eight, Medina Spirit, who was originally ticketed to run a week ago in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, got into his high cruising speed in short order and with his ears pricked turning for home, posed a most elusive target as he widened through the lane.

Most recently a 1 ¼ length winner going a flat mile in the ungraded Shared Belief Stakes Aug. 29, Medina Spirit was off as the 6-5 favorite and paid $4.60, $4.20 and $3.40.

“I keep saying and I probably sound like a broken record, but this guy, he has a ton of heart,” said Velazquez, who has ridden Medina Spirit in his last six starts.  “He’s very competitive and when the horses come to him, he gives you everything he can.  That’s all you can ask of a horse.

“He’s not very big, he’s not very beautiful, but obviously, he’s all heart and you can’t ask for anything else.  The way he ran today, that was impressive.  Maybe they will give him the credit he deserves now.”

Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., Medina Spirit, who is by Protonico out of the Brilliant Speed mare Mongolian Changa, picked up $180,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $2,525,200 from an overall mark of 9-5-3-1.

With the prospect of a Derby disqualification and more hanging in the air nearly five months after the Run for the Roses, Baffert relished his victory in the Awesome Again.

“I’m happy for Zedan and what we have had to deal with,” said Baffert.  “We stayed focused on the horses.  The fans came out to see this horse and they are rooting for him.  I could tell by the crowd noise.  They are all pulling for him.  It’s an emotional win for us.  Johnny V. can do whatever with the horse.  He can wait, stalk, whatever.  This horse keeps getting better and better.”

The longest shot in the field at 54-1, Stilleto Boy out-finished Express Train by two lengths and paid $25.40 and $12.00.

Well back early, Express Train finished well under Juan Hernandez and paid $4.20 to show while off at 6-1.

Fractions on the race were 23.34, 47.72, 1:11.76 and 1:37.05.

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Santa Anita Press Release

Photo: Medina Spirit, (Benoit)

Nice score King! @jonathanstettin Well played with the 4 singled on one ticket. 2 times! Big congrats.

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