Medina Spirit will be getting a fresh dose of competition on the front end in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and it will come from a familiar face around trainer Bob Baffert's barn.
Baffert, who won a record seventh Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) last weekend with the son of Protonico , confirmed that Gary and Mary West's speedy Concert Tour will be running in the May 15 second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course.
"The Preakness is a big race and that's why (owners) are in this business. He's doing well, so we're going to run," Baffert said May 3 about Concert Tour, a 3-year-old homebred son of Street Sense .
Like Zedan Racing Stables' Medina Spirit, who captured the May 1 Run for the Roses in front-running style, Concert Tour has sharp early speed that he flashed while winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) in gate-to-wire fashion for his third win in as many starts.
Baffert said he has no qualms about running two horses with keen early speed in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, which also happened in 2015 when he ran Dortmund against eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at Pimlico.
"They're both fast. Concert Tour, he's quick, but the break is so important. They have to break. So many things can go wrong in a race," said Baffert, who owns seven Preakness wins. "I had Dortmund and American Pharoah, they were both fast horses and I just let them run their race and let the best horse win. I don't worry about that."
In what was supposed to be his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, Concert Tour chased Caddo River from second in the Arkansas Derby (G1), only to tire and finish third behind Super Stock and Caddo River as a heavy 3-10 favorite in a performance that derailed plans to run in the May 1 opening leg of the Triple Crown.
"After the Arkansas Derby we were so disappointed. I was talking with Gary West and he felt we shouldn't run in the Kentucky Derby. You hate to take a step backwards and then come back in three weeks (in the Derby) after a poor showing like that," Baffert said. "We thought we'll either run him in the Preakness or freshen him up for the Haskell (G1, July 17 at Monmouth Park)."
The Preakness became Option 1 for the multiple grade 2 winner after a 1:00 3/5 five-furlong work May 2 at Churchill Downs.
"I worked him the day after the Derby and he worked really well. I told Gary that I still can't figure out why he didn't win the Arkansas Derby, so I'm willing to take a shot at the Preakness and then maybe we'll freshen him up. Definitely no Belmont Stakes (G1, June 5 at Belmont Park)."
The decision was first reported by The Daily Racing Form.