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Derby Trail Darlings Medina Spirit, Rock Your World Face Off In Shared Belief
Rock Your World winning the Santa Anita Derby (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Derby Trail Darlings Medina Spirit, Rock Your World Face Off In Shared Belief

DEL MAR, CAMedina Spirit and Rock Your World, a pair of darlings from the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail whose expectations and results in the big race were polar opposites from start to finish, face off for the third time in Sunday’s $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.

The Shared Belief is a dirt mile route restricted to 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 6:20 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Shared Belief:

1. Willy the Cobbler 20/1 – The lightbulb finally went off in his seventh career start when he was an impressive 6-length winner routing a mile at Los Alamitos 2 races back, because he backed it up with a rallying 3 1/2-length score over this course and distance. That came against $50k starter allowance horses with only 1 career win, so the waters get much deeper here, but he has some appeal at the price.

2. Medina Spirit 7/5 – The beleagured Kentucky Derby winner ran an uninspiring third in May 15’s Preakness Stakes (G1), fading steadily in the stretch after setting a pressured early pace. His connections supplemented him into the field for $1,000 after he fired a 5-furlong bullet in :58.60 over this surface and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez ships in from New York to keep the mount.

“He worked a little fast, but he came out of it good,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’s going to need the race, coming off a layoff, and he’s got to go a mile, but if I can run him here, that will set him up to go on to the Pennsylvania Derby (a $1 million Grade 1 at Parx on September 25).”

3. Rock Your World 8/5 – He won 2 straight on turf including a stakes, then upset 4/5 favorite Medina Spirit in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his dirt debut. After breaking slowly in the Kentucky Derby and never recovering, he pressed the Belmont Stakes (G1) pace but tired to sixth. His recent works made his connections consider entering last week’s Pacific Classic (G1), won by his stablemate.

4. Team Merchants 5/1 – The Saratoga juvenile winner missed 8 months before returning in a 6-furlong turf sprint Santa Anita Park, but he took an awkward step at the dirt crossover and was never involved. He worked well before and after that race, then defeated optional claimers going 6 1/2 furlongs on the local dirt last month. Being in form could give him a sneaky edge over the two favorites.

5. The Great One 6/1 – Team Merchants’ stablemate in the Doug O’Neill barn attracted the meet’s leading rider Flavien Prat for the first time. He showed flashes of brilliance during the winter, missing in the Los Al Futurity (G2) by a nose while still a maiden before breaking through next out in a 14-length romp against maidens, but he’s unraced since finishing seventh in the Santa Anita Derby.

6. Stilleto Boy 6/1 – He returns to dirt after setting the pace and weakening to fifth in the La Jolla Handicap (G3) last time out, his first foray on turf. He won 2 of his past 3 starts, all dirt routes: a gutsy maiden-breaking effort at Oaklawn Park and a romping score in the Iowa Derby. Both wins were gate to wire and trainer Ed Moger Jr. removes the hood after the horse wore it for his first 8 starts.

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