Medina Spirit, the real reason

September 23, 2021

The real reason Medina Spirit scratched

When Bob Baffert announced that as of now still Kentucky Derby winning Medina Spirit would skip the Pennsylvania Derby in favor of the Awesome Again, a flurry of negatives and accusations flooded social media. That led to a series of what I’d call hit pieces about Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby betamethasone positive. This is not really surprising. Bob went from the racing man many loved to the racing man many love to hate. The problem with hate and venom is it often clouds judgement amongst other things. Let us not forget that prior to this the social media cries were for the Breeders’ Cup to ban Bob from running this year and the Breeders’ Cup announced they were reviewing that very issue.

We live in a society that likes to re write history and shape how things will be perceived in the future. It happens in horse racing a lot. Ask anyone who knew him and you’ll learn Frank Pancho Martin was nothing like he was portrayed in the Secretariat movie. Sadly that is how he’ll be remembered by many. There are still many people who believe Ruffian rose from her operation and tried to continue racing. A poignant story, but not what happened. That one bothered me to the point I wrote about it and spoke to the two men who cradled her the entire time she was in the recovery room. Yes, two, not all the dozens who claimed to be there or witness the euthanasia. It is the only true account of her final hours ever told. I don’t believe we should change history and if you’d like to know what really happened you can read it HERE.

All you have to do is watch the large national news networks and you’ll see exactly what I mean. They don’t report the news anymore. There is no Walter Cronkite saying “here now the news.” Now it is what they want you to believe and remember and the history they want to create.

The funny thing about the Medina Spirit scratch aftermath is I didn’t see one single hit piece, article, social media opinion or anyone at all come up with the likely real reason. Not a one. If I missed it apologies, and kudos I believe you got it right just as I believe I’m about to.

I didn’t call and ask Bob the reason. I could have but I didn’t think it was necessary. I didn’t think it was the big nefarious mystery or conspiracy many seemed to opine. I also didn’t think anything was dishonest. I thought it was blatantly obvious.

Bob was quoted in part saying he didn’t like the post draw. Quoting in part can be misleading. It is especially misleading in circumstances where you go back in time to find a different race and different scenario where he liked the very same post position, post 9. What Bob said was he didn’t like the post draw for his horse with all the speed inside of him and as a handicapper and gambling man that makes sense. It projects for a trip where Medina Spirit would have to be used to get where he likes to be, the front.

That is really the only explanation a trainer owes anyone. I don’t for a second believe it is the only reason.

I think Bob made the right choice for both the horse and for him and the connections. One race, the Awesome Again where Bob is opting to start Medina Spirit is a Breeders’ Cup win and you’re in race. The Pennsylvania Derby, although a Grade 1 with a cool million dollar pot isn’t. Which do you think is more important long term while the Breeders’ Cup announced they are reviewing if they will allow Bob to run. I’d bet the right people at Parx realize this. Personally, I think it is much harder for them to take a position you can’t run a win and you’re in horse as opposed to a Pennsylvania Derby winner. Bob already has Gamine as a win and you’re in possible entrant and Medina Spirit would make two. We know Bob had to fight a legal battle just to be allowed to run Gamine at Saratoga despite never having a violation at a NYRA racetrack. I’m no lawyer but if I was and Bob was my client I know where I’d tell him to run. It makes all the sense in the world to opt for the Awesome Again as opposed to the Pennsylvania Derby and no matter how you feel about Bob it was the right call for him and the horse.

Do I know this? No, I don’t but I’d bet on my opinion before anybody else’s in a horse race or in life.

So at least now somewhere out there in cyber land long after we’re all gone there will be a real account of why Medina Spirit scratched from the Pennsylvania Derby in favor of the Awesome Again. Is it true, who knows, you’d have to ask Bob but does that really matter? I’m sure the fact the Awesome Again will have a smaller field with less speed over his home track had nothing to do with it. It’s the win and you’re in!

Photo: Medina Spirit wins Kentucky Derby, Coady Photography

Contributing Authors

Jon Stettin

Jonathan’s always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. Growing up around the game, he came about as close as anyone...

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  1. paul lawrence Sep 24, 2021 at 6:05 am

    Good article

    1. Jonathan Stettin Sep 24, 2021 at 7:19 am

      thank you

  2. Mary Richter Sep 24, 2021 at 11:10 am

    The Breeder’s Cup could probably award the goodies from winning a “win and you’re in” race to the second place finisher if Baffert wins the race but the BC committee that will decide his fate rules that he needs to sit this one out to think about the very bad smell that he has cast on the Sport of Kings this year.

  3. John Vannoy Sep 24, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Thanks, I’d not considered this as a possibility. But only to play devils advocate, why bother entering the PA Derby then? Think he might have shipped if he drew satisfactorily?

    1. Jonathan Stettin Sep 25, 2021 at 7:11 am

      I’m sure those plans were made prior to the Breeders’ Cup announcing their review.

  4. joani jiannine Sep 25, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    Thank you for this, Jonathan Stettin. Exactly right.

  5. joani jiannine Sep 25, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you for this Jonathan Stettin. Exactly right in my opinion.

    1. Jonathan Stettin Sep 25, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      Thank you

  6. Casey Phillips Sep 25, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks, Jon for your argument. I, for one, as a photographer, am happy I get to shoot Medina in the Awesome Again.

    1. Jonathan Stettin Sep 25, 2021 at 6:03 pm

      thank you

  7. Paula Macejak Sep 25, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you being the voice of reason. Refreshing. Well done Mr. Stettin

  8. Ric Sep 25, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    He scratched both his horses at Parx today -Private Mission from post 7 in the filly stakes race prior to PA Derby

  9. John Nester Sep 25, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    After backing Mandaloun big in the derby, i wanted to just quit betting horse racing. The rules always screw the bettor, who helps finance the sport. Instead, i decided to no longer wager on any race with Bob Baffert. Once more people do the same, the sport will move forward and grow. Weed out cc the cheaters. And yes, Baffert is a cheater over and over again.
    Truth is, I’m missing very little as everyone knows hes a cheat and his horses pay even money most of the time.

  10. joani jiannine Oct 2, 2021 at 3:57 am

    Again you are absolutely right!! Hit that nail right on the head! It’s so refreshing to read your column, a voice of sanity amongst those that have turned into rag sheets in the horse racing world! I apreciate you!

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