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Twelve hours after winning the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit put on another show Sunday morning at Bob Baffert’s Barn 33 on the Churchill Downs backside.
As a group of reporters, photographers and fans watched, Baffert brought the dark bay colt out of the barn for a victory lap of sorts.
“There he is; he’s posing,” Baffert said with a smile. “What do you think, boy?”
Baffert was still basking in the glow of Medina Spirit’s half-length victory over Mandaloun, the closest Kentucky Derby finish since Giacomo beat Closing Argument by a half-length in 2005.
Baffert captured his seventh Derby victory, breaking a tie with Ben Jones for the most won by a trainer in the race’s 147-year history. No. 7 came with a 12-1 shot Baffert had given little shot to win earlier in the week.
“Turning for home, they came to him and he dug in,” Baffert said Sunday morning. “I didn’t know if he was still going to do it, but he just dug in and fought hard. … After the race (jockey John Velazquez) said, ‘He showed me a gear that I didn’t know that he has.’ Just the way he did it and the way he kept on going, he was just pretty exciting.”
As is tradition on the Sunday after the Kentucky Derby, attention immediately turned to the Preakness and the run at a possible Triple Crown.
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Baffert wouldn’t commit to running Medina Spirit in the May 15 Preakness in Baltimore, but added, “Right now, I don’t see anything that would discourage me.”
“He came back and acted like he handled it pretty well,” Baffert added. “He wasn’t as tired as I thought he was. After a big race like that, they’re pretty tired. But he handled it pretty well.”
Baffert could face the awkward situation of having another of his horses competing against his Derby winner in the Preakness.
Concert Tour skipped the Kentucky Derby, and Baffert said last week he would be pointed toward the Preakness. Concert Tour breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Churchill on Sunday morning, and Baffert said the work went well.
Baffert said a decision on Concert Tour’s status for the Preakness likely won’t come until next weekend. Owned by Gary and Mary West, Concert Tour most recently finished third in the Arkansas Derby on April 10.
“(Gary) wants that horse to develop and don’t get in a rush with things because we know he’s a really good horse,” Baffert said. “So we’ll see how he is next week. …
“I really can’t make the call right now on anything.”
Baffert’s first five Derby winners – Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) – all went on to win the Preakness. American Pharoah and Justify completed their Triple Crown runs by winning the Belmont.
Baffert’s Derby-Preakness streak ended last year when Derby winner Authentic lost by a neck to filly Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness.
As of Sunday morning, a handful of Kentucky Derby horses were being considered for the Preakness and/or the Belmont on June 5.
Trainer Brad Cox said Mandaloun (second) and Essential Quality (fourth) could be considered for both but seemed to be leaning toward Mandaloun going to the Preakness and Essential Quality to the Belmont.
“It’s a huge ask,” Cox said. “Right now, based off what they did yesterday, I’m not in a big hurry to run them back. It’s just not the norm to run a horse back in two weeks.”
Trainer Doug O’Neill said Hot Rod Charlie (third) will skip the Preakness and aim for the Belmont. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Midnight Bourbon (sixth) is possible for the Preakness. Trainer Greg Foley said O Besos (fifth) likely is off the Triple Crown trail.
“He’s a good colt,” Foley said. “We’ll see how he trains after this. There are a lot of good 3-year-old races. We’ll pick them out and make some money with him.”
Among horses who skipped the Derby being considered for the Preakness are Caddo River (Brad Cox, second in Arkansas Derby), Crowded Trade (Chad Brown, third in Wood Memorial), France Go de Ina (Hideyuki Mori, sixth in UAE Derby), King Fury (Kenny McPeek, won Lexington), Rombauer (Michael McCarthy, third in Blue Grass), The Reds (John Kimmel, won Federico Tesio) and Unbridled Honor (Todd Pletcher, second in Lexington).
Preakness entries are due May 10.
Jason Frakes: email@example.com; Twitter: @KentuckyDerbyCJ.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Bob Baffert faces Preakness decision on Derby winner Medina Spirit