Mor Spirit

A talented member of Bob Baffert's stable, this Pennsylvania-bred dark bay/roan knew how to run. And for three seasons, he did just that while being equipped with a competitive streak that gave him a respectable career.

Campaigned by Michael Lund Petersen, Mor Spirit liked to track the leader of a race by a couple of lengths. The strategy paid off many times, for Mor Spirit showed himself to be a consistent horse. Take his two-year-old season, for example. In four starts, he was never worse than second, and he captured his biggest win as a juvenile in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity.

But Mor Spirit did more than just win. He showed different aspects of his repertoire, notably at Churchill Downs. Racing under the Twin Spires, Mor Spirit alerted folks that he could be competitive out of state, finishing second on an off track in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Debuting in early autumn of 2015, Mor Spirit's campaign was a short one, but it was productive.

Inevitably, a three-year-old in the Bob Baffert barn will be seen as a Kentucky Derby hopeful at some point during the winter months. Mor Spirit was no exception to that. Based at Santa Anita, he extended his streak of top two finishes during the meet, winning the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes before finishing second in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes and Grade I Santa Anita Derby. Though he missed out on first place in the latter two events, he still showed something in defeat. He closed well in the San Felipe after being farther behind than usual, and again had a good result on an off track when he ran in the Santa Anita Derby.

On an interesting note, the only horse to beat him in California's final Kentucky Derby prep race was Exaggerator, who would go on to win the Preakness later that spring. That fact emphasized the class Mor Spirit carried with him as a racehorse.

Mor Spirit made it to the Kentucky Derby, but the day was not what his fans and connections hoped for. Coming in tenth place, Mor Spirit showed up next in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita in December. He again finished off the board, this time coming in fourth, but Mor Spirit had always been a router. And to his credit, he closed well in the seven-furlong race after a few months on the sidelines.

Returning as an older horse in 2017, Mor Spirit went back to running at longer distances. The Malibu turned out to be a good leg stretcher for the son of Eskendereya, for it set him up for what could be called a return to his 2015 form. He put together a second place result in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes at a mile and one-eighth, and then rattled off victories in Oaklawn Park's Essex Handicap, Lone Star Park's Grade III Steve Sexton Mile, and Belmont Park's Grade I Metropolitan Handicap. Powerful in the stretch, no one was a match for him at in the Met Mile, and he took the historic race in what was the most prestigious victory of his career.

The consistency was back, the wins were back, and Mor Spirit again had no trouble traveling to other venues and performing well. Already a tough racehorse, he showed more layers to his strength during that portion of his career. First, Mor Spirit demonstrated he could battle up front with rivals early on in a race and take over, doing so in the Essex. And second, every single opponent of his had nowhere near the amount of energy Mor Spirit did at Belmont. He found another level that all the remaining members of the field found unattainable, and he simply dominated en route to his biggest win. It was a nice return to the earlier days of his career.

After the Met Mile, Mor Spirit's next start did not come until the Grade I Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Favored to win like he had in several of his past races, Mor Spirit was in his customary tracking position for much of the way. It would not be his day, however. Before reaching the top of the stretch at Del Mar, Mor Spirit began moving backwards before finishing up in eighth.

Retired to Spendthrift Farm for stud duty almost a year after the Dirt Mile, Mor Spirit recorded six wins and five seconds in fourteen starts, an impressive record of consistency. He accumulated five stakes victories, four of them graded. As for tracks, he won at five different venues across the United States, and he won going a mile and a mile and one-sixteenth. He teamed up with Hall of Fame riders Mike Smith and Gary Stevens, winning stakes with both of them in the saddle. And he and then-Southern California based rider Martin Garcia joined forces for a second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Easily able to work with different jockeys, he always put forth an effort no matter where he finished.

Looking back at his days as a racehorse, Mor Spirit surely lived up to his name due to the spirit he showed against his competition.

Entry added November 28, 2020 by AF.