When thriving three-year old Mor Spirit goes to post for the Robert Lewis Stakes on February 6, it is really about one thing, his education.
Coming into the grade III Kentucky Derby prep at Santa Anita, the Bob Baffert trained Spirit is highly regarded among Derby contenders. Two wins and two second place finishes in four lifetime starts means this son of Eskendereya has always been there at the end. That is what California’s most famous conditioner is looking for on Saturday as well.
“I think he is ready and there is some real speed in the race so it will not be easy,” says Baffert. “We just want to see him continue to develop. He has got good size and a nice stride.”
Teaching Mor Spirit to be a race horse has been the charge of his Triple Crown winning trainer. The workouts of this Pennsylvania bred have not been sizzling of late, but Baffert sees the talent and is laying the foundation for future success.
“He is kind of a lazy horse and does not always work real fast,” says Baffert. “He usually needs a target to run at and we are working on making him better so that he keeps running. This is a building process and we are on the ground floor with him. The challenge is trying to win races while building a race horse. Everybody always likes to win, but seeing the bigger picture is more important. As long as he can learn and finish in the top three in his early preps we will be just fine.”
Another key part of the educational team is jockey Gary Stevens. Baffert has called upon the hall of fame rider to help in Spirit’s tutelage. These two veterans do have a bit of history together as they teamed up to win the 1997 Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm.
“Gary is great in the development of horses,” says Baffert. “When we won the Los Alamitos Futurity in his last start Gary did an excellent job of mentoring the horse and making him take some dirt. We think he got a lot out of that race and hope he can get even more in this one.”
The Lewis will go off as race 4 on a blockbuster card at “The Great Race Place” with post time slated for 4pm central time. Mor Spirit is listed as the 8-5 favorite on the morning line.