As with his previous six Kentucky Derby winners, trainer Bob Baffert is expected to enter Medina Spirit in the Preakness on May 15 in Baltimore. As to who might join him, that was up in the air Sunday.
After pointing Rebel Stakes winner Concert Tour toward the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Baffert was non-committal about whether Gary and Mary West’s 3-year-old would be making the trip to Baltimore.
“I’m not ready to commit to anything right now,” Baffert said at his barn on the backside of Churchill Downs after Concert Tour worked at the track on Sunday morning.
Concert Tour and Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit share similar racing styles. Baffert said that wasn’t necessarily an impediment to running them both. He said he wanted to speak to Concert Tour’s owners, who have expressed a desire to let their colt develop.
Baffert returned to his home base in California on Sunday, but Medina Spirit remained in Louisville to train up to the Preakness.
“He came out of it well,” the trainer said. “It takes about a week to determine, so I’m going to come back next weekend and see. But I don’t see anything discouraging right now.”
Trainer Brad Cox said he was hopeful that Derby runner-up Mandaloun and fourth-place finisher Essential Quality would run in the Preakness. Essential Quality went off as the 3-1 Derby favorite Saturday.
“We were so grateful that both of our horses ran as well as they did,” Cox said Sunday. “Essential Quality got a tough trip being so wide but coming that close to a Derby win makes me want more. We’ll be back.”
Hot Rod Charlie will not be going to Baltimore, said trainer Doug O’Neill. The Louisiana Derby winner, who finished third on Saturday, will be pointed toward New York.
“We’ll look to run him next in the Belmont Stakes (June 5 at New York’s Belmont Park),” O’Neill told Churchill Downs. “We’ll get him back to California and start planning for that.”
As expected, trainer Todd Pletcher said he is not planning on entering any of his four Kentucky Derby horses in the Preakness. Florida Derby winner Known Agenda finished ninth, followed by Sainthood at 11th, Bourbonic 13th and Dynamic One 18th.
“That’s not my M.O.,” Pletcher said of the Preakness. “We’ll get back to New York and regroup. Then we can think about some major decisions with those horses.”
Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World, a disappointing 17th on Saturday, will be brought back to California before trainer John Sadler determines a next move.
“We’ll get him home and regroup,” Sadler said. “At this point I don’t know what we’re going to do with him. But we’ll come up with a plan.”
Trainer Wesley Ward indicated that 12th-place finisher Like the King will probably run on grass in his next race.
In addition to Concert Tour, Cox’s Caddo River, Kenny McPeek’s King Fury and Michael McCarthy’s Rombauer are all possibilities for the Preakness. Lexington Stakes winner King Fury spiked a fever on Friday and was scratched from the race. Entries for the Preakness will be taken on May 10.
Dave Grening of the Daily Racing Form reported Sunday that France Go de Ina, a Kentucky-bred Japanese-based horse, is being flown to the U.S. to run in the Preakness. France Go de Ina finished sixth in the UAE Derby.
Baffert does have one problem to solve before then. Ordinarily, Medina Spirit would be flying from Louisville to Baltimore on Tex Sutton Equine Air Transportation. But Baffert said Sunday he found out last week that Sutton is shutting down for a couple of months.
Will Medina Spirit be vanning to Maryland?
“We’re working on that,” said the trainer. “We just found out. It’s hot off the presses.”