Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Medina Spirit

January 31st, 2021

Medina Spirit doesn’t have the most commercially popular pedigree, which may explain why he sold for just $1,000 as a yearling and for $35,000 as a two-year-old.

But commercial viability isn’t everything. Medina Spirit might not be a blueblood, but he’s certainly bred to be an honest, durable, and long-winded racehorse. He’s already displayed these traits on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, sandwiching a gritty front-running victory in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) amidst runner-up efforts in the Sham (G3), San Felipe (G2), and Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Medina Spirit’s sire, Protonico, exemplifies the notion of an admirable (but not quite elite) racehorse. Over the course of four seasons he earned nearly $1 million without ever winning a Grade 1 race. A stoutly bred son of three-time leading sire Giant’s Causeway, Protonico was produced by Alpha Spirit, a daughter of 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1) winner and renowned stamina influence A.P. Indy.

Protonico has the breeding to run all day and delivered as expected on track. All four of his graded stakes wins came running one mile or farther on dirt, including a gutsy victory over Grade 1 winner Noble Bird in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba (G2). For good measure, Protonico recorded a close runner-up effort in the 1 1/8-mile Clark (G1) and a respectable third-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

It’s too early to judge Protonico as a stallion, considering his first foal crop contains just 18 named members. But Protonico’s early runners have performed best in races over one mile or farther, so it seems safe to assume Protonico is passing stamina on to his progeny.

Medina Spirit’s broodmare sire, Brilliant Speed, was very similar to Protonico as a racehorse. A versatile runner equally capable across all racing surfaces, Brilliant Speed scored his biggest victory in the 2011 Blue Grass (G1) racing 1 1/8 miles over the old Keeneland Polytrack course. But Brilliant Speed also proved sufficiently talented to place third in both the Belmont on dirt and the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) on grass, accounting for two of his five placings at the Grade 1 level.

Brilliant Speed’s long-winded and versatile nature is easy to understand when you review his pedigree. His sire, Dynaformer, was a stamina influence responsible for major winners on both dirt and turf, including Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Meanwhile, Brilliant Speed’s dam—the unraced Gone West mare Speed Succeeds—counts 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) runner-up Souper Speedy among her other foals.

Sadly, Brilliant Speed was killed by a lightning strike after siring just four crops of foals. The best of them unsurprisingly emulated Brilliant Speed with fine form racing one mile or farther on turf, including multiple stakes winner Americium and the Grade 3-placed Adonis Creed.

It remains to be seen how Brilliant Speed will fare from limited opportunities as a broodmare sire, though he’s off to a promising start. Medina Spirit is the first runner to represent Brilliant Speed as a broodmare sire, and you can’t ask for greater success than kicking off with a graded stakes-winning Kentucky Derby contender.

Digging into the specifics, Medina Spirit was produced by Brilliant Speed’s daughter Mongolian Changa, who broke her maiden racing one mile on Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs. She, in turn, is a daughter of the productive broodmare Bridled, whose three previous foals all won a minimum of five races.

Bridled’s pedigree is dotted with classic influences. Her sire, Unbridled, won the Kentucky Derby, while her dam sire—the brilliant Horse of the Year Holy Bull—counted Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo among his best foals.

Only time will tell if Medina Spirit can exceed the accomplishments of Protonico and Brilliant Speed, but at least we don’t have to worry about his breeding. Whether commercially viable or not, Medina Spirit’s pedigree is unquestionably geared toward success running 1 1/4 miles.