Medina Spirit Takes On Older Horses As Eight Go In Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes

September 29, 2021

Race is a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win & You’re In’ qualifier to $6 million BC Classic

ARCADIA, Calif. – Medina Spirit, upset winner of the Kentucky Derby, will face older horses for the first time as an outstanding field of eight three-year-olds and up contest Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. A Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, the winner of the Awesome Again will earn a fees-paid berth into the Grade I, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.

Although a cloud of uncertainty continues to hover over the validity of the Derby result due to the fact the Kentucky Racing Commission has not yet issued a ruling on Medina Spirit’s positive test for an excessive amount of the permitted steroid betamethasone, the Florida-bred colt by Protonico has gone on to finish third in the Grade I Preakness Stakes May 15 and he comes off a sharp gate to wire score in the ungraded Shared Belief Stakes going one mile at Del Mar Aug. 29.

Entered but scratched by Bob Baffert out of last Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, Medina Spirit stayed home and drilled a solid five furlongs Saturday in 59.80, fourth best of 59 at the distance. Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., Medina Spirit, who was purchased for a bargain $35,000 at the 2020 Ocala Breeders’ July Sale of 2-year-olds in training and older horses, has now amassed earnings of more than $2.3 million. With a win in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes in his third start on Jan. 30 and three seconds from four starts at Santa Anita, Medina Spirit has an overall mark of 8-4-3-1. 

An overachiever with an abundance of natural speed, look for regular rider John Velazquez to send Medina Spirit in a race that will unquestionably command the focus of the entire racing world. 

John Sadler’s Tripoli, an up and coming 4-year-old colt by Kitten’s Joy, has the look of a “now” horse as he comes off a scintillating 1 ¼ length score going a mile and a quarter in the Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 21, a race in which he pressed the early pace en route to his third win from six starts this year. A maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs on turf in his second start here on June 14, 2020, Tripoli will be making his second Santa Anita main track start on Saturday.

Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Tripoli has had three recorded works since his Pacific Classic win, his most recent a five-furlong drill at Santa Anita Sept. 26 in 1:00.20, which ranked sixth of 89 that morning. With his first career stakes victory in-hand, he’ll again be ridden by Tiago Pereira.

Well beaten by Tripoli as the 2-1 favorite in the Pacific Classic, the John Shirreffs-trained Express Train, a forwardly placed winner of the Grade II San Diego Handicap two starts back on July 17, will try to bounce back with regular rider Juan Hernandez up. A close second five starts back in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 6, Express Train, who is owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, LLC, is 6-1-3-1 at Santa Anita and should bounce back with a much-improved effort on Saturday.

C R K and Shirreffs will also send out the venerable but quirky 6-year-old gelding Midcourt, who will likely be forwardly placed in the early going. 

Sent to San Luis Rey Downs over the summer, the Richard Baltas-trained Idol will be making his first start since rallying from off the pace to win the Santa Anita Handicap, which was his first stakes win. Lightly raced, this 4-year-old colt by Curlin has three wins from six starts and he’s got a pair of local works to his credit for his return, a five-furlong drill in 1:01.40 on Sept. 19 and six furlongs on Sept. 26 in 1:12 flat. Owned by Calvin Nguyen, Idol will be out to validate his Big ’Cap score and to make his way on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic stage.

Tizamagician, who earned a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure while finishing second, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Tripoli in the Pacific Classic, can be counted upon to be sent early as he again tries to employ gate to wire tactics with Flavien Prat up. Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm, LLC, this 4-year-old colt by Tiznow is enjoying a terrific year with three wins and as many second from seven starts and 2021 earnings of $487,000.

The Grade I Awesome Again with jockeys & weights in post position order

Race 10 of 11, Approximate post time 5 p.m. PT

1. Tizamagician—Flavien Prat—124
2. Midcourt—Edwin Maldonado—122
3. Express Train—Juan Hernandez—124
4. Stilleto Boy—Kent Desormeaux—118
5. Medina Spirit—John Velazquez—122
6. Azul Coast—Abel Cedillo—122
7. Tripoli—Tiago Pereira—126
8. Idol—Joe Bravo—124

The Awesome Again is one of five stakes to be run a blockbuster 11-race card Saturday. Special early first post time is 12:30 p.m.  For additional information, please visit or call (626) 574-RACE.

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Office

Photo: Medina Spirit winning the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar under John Velazquez on August 29, 2021. (Benoit Photos)

@jonathanstettin such a great read! In my car reading this on my lunch break with a huge smile.

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