Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who hasn’t run since finishing third in the May 15 Preakness Stakes, could be back this Saturday for the Grade 3 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.

Medina Spirit-Shared Belief return?
Controversial Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit may return to the gate for the first time since May 15 for Saturday’s Grade 3 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

According to the Daily Racing Form, the Bob Baffert-trainee’s return is contingent on a Monday workout for the Protonico colt. In that Monday workout, Medina Spirit clocked a bullet 58.60-second, five-furlong outing at Del Mar. That was the fastest time of 68 horses working that distance Monday.

Baffert told Del Mar’s notes team on Saturday the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx is Medina Spirit’s target. The Shared Belief would act as a prep for that Sept. 25 contest. He wasn’t one of the 14 nominated horses by last Thursday’s deadline, but can be supplemented into the field for $1,000 by Friday’s entry date.

“I go work-by-work with him. I’m looking at the Pennsylvania Derby maybe as an option,” Baffert told Del Mar. “Do I give him a race here? I’m going to let him tell me. The horse will let me know.”

Medina Spirit remains Derby champion — for now

Medina Spirit finished first in the May 1 Kentucky Derby, but later tested positive for the anti-inflammatory betamethasone. That medication is banned on race days.

Baffert and owner Amr Zedan claim the positive test was the result of a topical ointment used to treat dermatitis, and not as a PED. That case remains in the courts. Baffert and attorney Craig Robertson filed suit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission seeking additional testing on Medina Spirit’s post-race urine samples.

Barring the KHRC holding a disqualification hearing, Medina Spirit remains the Derby champion.

Shared Belief could be a Baffert affair

The one-mile Shared Belief ran in early August last year as a Derby prep, due to the pandemic sending the Run for the Roses to September. Baffert’s Thousand Words captured that race at 9/1, upsetting favored Honor A.P.

If Medina Spirit runs the Shared Belief, Baffert may have three horses in the field. He’s already sending Classier and Defunded to the gate. That pair went 1-2 in the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby on July 4. Defunded returned for a 1 1/16-mile Del Mar allowance earlier this month, blowing away the field by nearly nine lengths.

Waiting for that duo – or trio – will likely be Rock Your World, who trainer John Sadler nominated for his first race in nearly three months. Sadler nominated his 3-year-old Santa Anita Derby winner for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, then decided not to run him. Since winning two turf races and that Santa Anita Derby, Rock Your World stumbled to a 17th-place finish in the Derby and a sixth in the Belmont Stakes.

Stilleto Boy trying to break into the spotlight

Two other recognizable colts were nominated to the Shared Belief: Stilleto Boy and The Great One. Stilleto Boy won the Iowa Derby last month with a career-best 106 Equibase Speed Figure. That effort was obscured by Knicks Go blowing away the Cornhusker Handicap field on the same card. Stilleto Boy came back to finish fifth by less than three lengths in the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap earlier this month.

The Great One returns after a nearly five-month absence. The Doug O’Neill-trained son of Nyquist hasn’t run since finishing a distant seventh in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s worked out three times this month, the last being last Saturday’s six-furlong outing of 1:13.0. That was third of five running that distance.

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