Medina Spirit and jockey Abel Cedillo win the Grade 3, $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Jan. 30, 2021 at Santa Anita Park. © BENOIT PHOTO

Medina Spirit to Bypass Pennsylvania Derby

Edited Press Release

Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit, the 2-1 morning line favorite for the 41st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 25, will not run at Parx Racing.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sept. 21 that he is going to keep the son of Protonico in California and run in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again against older horses at Santa Anita on Oct. 2.

“I want to do what is best for the horse,” Baffert said Tuesday morning after observing the horse after arriving back in California from the Keeneland Yearling Sale in Kentucky. “I don’t like the way he drew.”

Medina Spirit was assigned post position nine in the Pennsylvania Derby, outside of the other expected speed horses, Midnight Bourbon and Hot Rod Charlie. 

Medina Spirit has won three of seven starts this year, including the Kentucky Derby (G1) and, in his most recent race, the Shared Belief at Del Mar on Aug. 29. He still faces a possible disqualification from his first-place finish in the Kentucky Derby as he tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone in his post-race sample. Betamethasone, a Class C drug, is allowed in Kentucky as a therapeutic. However, state rules require at least a 14-day withdrawl time and any level of detection on race day is a violation.

In the Pennsylvania Derby, Medina Spirit was going to face nine others, including Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon, who was second in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in his last start.

Hot Rod Charlie, the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, is starting from post position seven and Midnight Bourbon, the 5-1 third choice has the eight.

“I have a lot of respect for the other two horses,” Baffert said. “I was really looking forward to it. It’s a great race with him in there, but it’s something I have to do. I feel that part of my success is knowing when to run. This is a management call of mine.”

Baffert also said that Private Mission, who was 9-2 on the morning line for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion Stakes, will also be staying home. She will be pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes on Oct. 3, also at Santa Anita.