Medina Spirit is getting used to chasing his betters. First, it was Life is Good in the Sham (G3) and San Felipe Stakes (G2). After his stablemate’s unfortunate injury, Medina Spirit looked like the best 2021 Kentucky Derby prospect in California.
Medina Spirit previously had beaten four of his rivals, including Roman Centurian and Dream Shake. With seemingly no powerhouse in the field, The Bob Baffert trainee was the favorite for the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Then Medina Spirit felt the earth move when Rock Your World put forth an effort reminiscent of Life is Good. Accustomed to chasing his stablemate around the Santa Anita oval, Medina Spirit ended up in the same position, finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind Rock Your World. Medina Spirit again was clearly second best, besting Dream Shake by 2 1/4 lengths.
Medina Spirit sits in eighth place on the Derby leaderboard with 74 points. He collected 40 points from the Santa Anita Derby. Previously, he earned four qualifying points for his runner-up finish in the Sham (G3) and 10 points for his R. B. Lewis victory. Medina Spirit has a 5: 2-3-0 record with earnings of $315,200.
This isn’t your usual pricy Bob Baffert trainee. Bred by Gail Rice, the colt brought only $1,000 at the 2019 OBS Winter Mixed Sale as a yearling. He returned to the OBS auction in July and sold to his owners Zedan Racing Stables for $35,000 at the Horses of racing age sale.
Pedigree: Medina Spirit (Protonico - Mongolian
Changa, by Brilliant Speed) has a deep, slanting shoulder and the conformation
of a route horse. He lowers his head and has a steady, grinding, ground-eating
stride with no wasted movement. He’s professional and keeps a straight course.
His pedigree and conformation indicate that middle to classic distances
shouldn’t be an issue. (Click here for the Medina Spirit pedigree chart.)
Protonico (Giant’s Causeway - Alpha Spirit, by A.P. Indy) is a good-looking dark bay son of Giant’s Causeway who physically resembles his damsire. Campaigned by Todd Pletcher for Sumaya U.S. Stable, Protonico won his 2-year-old debut at six furlongs but did his best work as a late-season 3-year-old through his fourth year.
Protonico won from six to nine furlongs and set a track record of 1:48.79 for nine furlongs in the Ben Ali Stakes (G3). He couldn’t break through with a Grade 1 victory but came close in the Clark Handicap (G1), missing by a half-length to Hoppertunity. In his career finale, the Todd Pletcher trainee was third in the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Protonico retired with a 16: 7-1-2 ($997,587) record.
In 2017, Protonico stood his first year at stud in 2017 at Taylor Made Stallions for $6,500. The following year, he stood at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky for the same fee and moved to his current location at Castleton-Lyons, Ky., with a $5,000 stud fee. The second-crop sire has 35 foals of racing age, eight starters and three winners, including his most accomplished, Medina Spirit.
Medina Spirit is the only foal out of Mongolian Changa. The mare won once in six starts, at a mile, and placed twice. Her half-brother Backstreet Boss (Street Boss) placed in the 5 1/2-furlong Buena Park Stakes, and he owns the only black type in the second generation of Medina Spirit’s distaff line. The third generation has comparable results, with one stakes-placed sprinter as the most accomplished. We have to reach to Medina Spirit’s fourth generation to find a stakes winner. His fourth dam, Scoop the Gold (Forty Niner), produced multiple Grade 1 winner and sire High Yield (Storm Cat).
Medina Spirit’s damsire Brilliant Speed (Dynaformer - Speed Succeeds, by Gone West) was adept on multiple surfaces but did his best work over the lawn. He won the 2011 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) over Polytrack and the Saranac Stakes (G3) on turf, both at nine furlongs. His only placing on the dirt was finishing third in the Belmont Stakes. In all, Brilliant Speed won or placed in 10 graded stakes, six of them at the Grade 1 level. Sadly, the stallion sired only four crops before being struck by lightning in his paddock. In all, he sired 129 foals, 100 starters, 78 winners and three black-type winners. Brilliant Speed’s first crop are 7-year-olds, and as a young broodmare sire, Medina Spirit is his first stakes winner.
Medina Spirit tries hard and doesn’t back down when challenged. He earned his two victories when he was allowed to take the early lead. He strikes me as colt that can fill out the lower exotics in the Kentucky Derby if he can settle near the pace and hope to maintain position.