Baffert Seeking Fifth Kentucky Derby Win With Mor Spirit

Trainer Bob Baffert is seeking his fifth Kentucky Derby win with Mor Spirit.  (Photo credit: Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

Trainer Bob Baffert is seeking his fifth Kentucky Derby win with Mor Spirit. (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)

Bob Baffert is not front and center as he was last spring when he sent off the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite American Pharoah, but the Hall of Fame trainer has a legitimate shot of winning again this year with Mor Spirit.

The colt was no match for Exaggerator in his runner up finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and was beaten two lengths when second to Danzing Candy in the San Felipe (G2), but if there is one trainer that can have a horse 100% cranked and ready to go on the first Saturday of May, it’s Baffert.

Mor Spirit is currently listed at +650 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at, good for fourth choice in the betting. The colt stands at +900 at, the third choice.

Part of the reason for the betting action is Baffert, and on Derby Day the colt could garner plenty of attention at the betting windows.

Baffert will be seeking his fifth Kentucky Derby victory. The trainer first won the Run for the Roses in 1997 with Siler Charm, won again the next year with Real Quiet, and then with War Emblem in 2002. It took 13 more years before he visited the winner’s circle again with American Pharoah last year, who went on to win the Triple Crown, the first in nearly four decades.

Mor Spirit has a solid foundation as a juvenile, running a good second to Airoforce in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G1) in the slop over the Churchill Downs main track, and then winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1).

He started off his three-year-old campaign by winning the Robert B. Lewis (G3) before his runner up finishes in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. His career best Beyer Speed Figure is a 97, earned in the San Felipe, a fig that stacks up nicely among this crop.

The colt breezed over the main track at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, going five furlongs in 59.80, getting mixed reviews.

“Having never seen Mor Spirit work in person before this morning, it’s tough to be too harsh a critic, although it’s never a positive sign seeing a horse especially keyed up breaking off for a work, or wearying at the end while unable to run away from a lightly raced maiden as was the case here,” wrote Mike Welsch, clocker for The Daily Racing Form.

Bruno De Julio of had a different take:

Mor Spirit’s Work

One thing is for sure, Baffert has been down this road plenty of times and knows how to have a horse peak for the Kentucky Derby.

It also does not hurt giving a leg up to fellow Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who has won the Kentucky Derby three times and a total of nine Triple Crown races in his career.

It is questionable whether this colt can turn the tables on Exaggerator and Danzing Candy, and beat Nyquist and Mohaymen, but there is not much doubt Baffert will have this colt ready for a top performance on Saturday.


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