Horse racing-Derby winner Medina Spirit in peak form says Baffert

FILE PHOTO: May 1, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; John Velazquez guides Medina Spirit to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Trainer Bob Baffert, who won a record-setting seventh Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit last week, said the dark bay colt had another light workout on Thursday and is currently in peak form ahead of next week's Preakness Stakes.

Baffert said it takes about a week to determine if a horse will be ready in time for the Preakness Stakes but that Medina Spirit came out of the Kentucky Derby well, has jogged for two consecutive days and he sees no discouraging signs.

"I'll know by the weekend how he is doing but so far he is actually handling it pretty well," twice Triple Crown winner Baffert, who is scheduled to return to Louisville over the weekend, said on a conference call.

"He's a horse that's bred to go that far... he's got a light frame on him and those lighter frame horses - it's not as hard on him like a big strong heavy horse.

"I haven't seen anything right now that would make me think well maybe I should skip the Preakness but I have to see for my own eyes when I go there and watch training."

Jockey John Velazquez led Medina Spirit, who has never finished worse than second in six career starts, from the front and held off a trio of challengers down the stretch to secure a half-length victory in the 19-horse Kentucky Derby.

The 1-3/16 mile Preakness Stakes on May 15 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is the second jewel of U.S. thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown.

Baffert said there are really no certainties with horses and referred to 2010 when Kentucky Derby favourite Lookin at Lucky was completely wiped out after finishing a disappointing sixth but went on to win the Preakness Stakes two weeks later.

"The first four days he was just laying down, was cut up and really out of it and I told the owners I am not going to run in the Preakness," said Baffert.

"And by Monday I told them we are going to run in the Preakness and I think we could win. It could change that drastically."

Baffert also said if Medina Spirit does not triumph in the Preakness Stakes he was not sure whether the horse would race at the June 5 Belmont Stakes in New York.

"Medina, if he were to get beat, I don't even know if I'd run him in the Belmont," said Baffert. "He would probably have to win (the Preakness). I'll cross that bridge when I have to."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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