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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By DEL MAR PRESS STAFF — A delicious confrontation between two of the aces from this year’s Triple Crown events will unfold at Del Mar Sunday when Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit and Kentucky Derby/Belmont Stakes competitor Rock Your World match strides over a mile in the 47th running of the $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes.

Six in all have entered the headliner for 3-year-olds, but the two “Triple” guys will draw the most eyes and the most action. Jon White, Del Mar’s morning line maker, has made Medina Spirit a slight 7/5 favorite over rival Rock Your World at 8/5.

It is likely that both colts are using the Shared Belief as a “prep” for bigger and better things to come in the near future. But both undoubtedly have designs on this year’s Breeders’ Cup, which will be held at Del Mar. Sunday’s test will be a perfect chance for each to get a feel for the seaside oval where neither has raced before.

Medina’s Spirit, a son of the relatively unknown sire Protonico, made history with his Kentucky Derby win on May 1, then was the victim of a controversy centering on him possibly racing that afternoon with a drug not permitted on race day. A ruling on that matter still awaits a Kentucky Racing Commission statement. Subsequently, he ran third in the Preakness Stakes. The smallish Florida-bred races for Zedan Racing Stables and trains out of the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

Rock Your World is by the top stallion Candy Ride and lost all chance in the Kentucky Derby when he broke slowly and never had an opportunity to use his natural speed, finishing far back in the 19-horse lineup. Subsequently he showed speed in the 12-furlong Belmont, but could only finish sixth of eight. The tall, dark Kentucky-bred is trained by John Sadler for Hronis Racing or Talia Racing.

Medina Spirit has won three of seven starts with purses of $2,285,200. Of that amount, $1,860,000 was earned in the Kentucky Derby. Rock Your World has won three of five starts, including a tally in the Santa Anita Derby, and $591,600.

Both horses have been training in spirited fashion at Del Mar this summer for their return to racing. Both will have first-class riders in the boot Sunday – Hall of Famer John Velazquez coming in from New York to handle Medina Spirit and international riding star Umberto Rispoli returning to his role with Rock Your World.

Four other 3-year-olds are also in the lineup for the race and a victory by any of them obviously would be a large feather in their caps.

Here’s the full field for the Shared Belief from the rail out with riders and morning line odds:

Thomsen Racing’s Willy the Cobbler (Victor Espinoza, 20-1); Medina Spirit; Rock Your World; Reddam Racing’s Team Merchants (Mario Gutierrez, 5-1); ERJ Racing, Brennan or Strauss, et al’s The Great One (Flavien Prat, 6-1), and Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy (Kent Desormeaux, 6-1).

The Shared Belief was originally run as the El Cajon Stakes from 1973 to 2015. In 2016 it was rename for the champion horse – a winner of 10 of 12 starts and nearly $3 million in purses, including a score in Del Mar’s 2014 TVG Pacific Classic — who had died unexpectedly from complications of colic.

The feature will be Race 9 on a 10-race card with a first post of 2 p.m.

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