Baffert: Medina Spirit More Of A Silver Charm Than An American Pharoah

A favorite interview standby for turfwriters speaking to a jockey, trainer, or owner with historical success is to ask them to compare their most successful horses to each other. Who is better than who? Who reminds you of who? Trainer Bob Baffert, who is asked this sort of question often, was queried on Thursday’s NTRA national media teleconference about the similarities between Derby winner Medina Spirit and Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify.

Baffert said the colt by Protonico reminded him of neither champion, but did harken back to some more vintage runners.

The trainer has made no secret of the fact he was surprised by Saturday’s result.

“After watching the race, it was pretty impressive because he didn’t get an easy lead,” he said. “He carved out some serious fractions; it wasn’t a gimme. Turning for home when the swarm came, I was expecting all those horses to go by him and he just dug in and outran them all to the wire. I just kept thinking of Cavonnier — I didn’t want to get too excited.”

Cavonnier was Baffert’s great hope for the roses in 1996, and is best remembered for a breathless finish fighting off a late charge from D. Wayne Lukas-trained Grindstone after dealing with a smack to the face from Craig Perret, who accidentally struck the gelding with his whip while urging on Halo Sunshine. Though the official margin indicates Grindstone prevailed by a nose, many on site that day swore it was a dead heat. Cavonnier would go on to be fourth in the Preakness and pull up with a badly-bowed tendon in the Belmont. Two and a half years later, Baffert got him back to the races for a win in the 1998 Ack Ack. Cavonnier would leave the track in 2000 a hometown, homebred hero in Sonoma County, Calif., where he was born. A 2016 feature by the Press Democrat indicated that the family who bred Cavonnier retired him to a life of leisure at a ranch in western Sonoma County.

Medina Spirit was 12-1 when the gates opened, and Baffert said he could see why. It was a tough field and although he had solid finishes in his prep races, Medina Spirit hadn’t looked dominant. He’s also not a hugely physically imposing horse — he’s not short at 16.1 hands, but is a light-framed creature.

“I really can’t compare him to a horse like American Pharoah or Justify,” said Baffert. “They were superior horses that came in with the Beyers were off the charts, the numbers were faster. He’s getting better though. We’ve learned a lot about that horse.

“He reminds me of Silver Charm. He’s gutty. He’s going to fight, give you that extra. He’s a courageous horse. When he turned for home, he had every reason…I really thought Mandaloun was going to go on by him and he would not let him by. He did that in the Robert Lewis, where Hot Rod Charlie and all these horses came to him, and he went really, really fast early. I noticed that day when he came back, he wasn’t tired, he wasn’t blowing hard.

“All these good horses, they have a set of lungs on them. And you can’t worry about what they cost. Real Quiet was the same way, he only cost $17,000. Actually Silver Charm was a $15,000 yearling, you know. We never take their cost into consideration.”

Neither do they.

The post Baffert: Medina Spirit More Of A Silver Charm Than An American Pharoah appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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