Mor Spirit earned his first win in over 13 months when he took home first place in the $250,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park on March 18. His previous win came in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) Stakes last year, which kickstarted his run to qualifying for the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1). While Mor Spirit’s absence from the winner’s circle was lengthy, he showed indications of a return to his previous winning ways when he finished in second to stablemate Hoppertunity in the San Antonio Stakes (G2) on February 4.

“Heading for home, a horse came up to his outside. He dug in and I just stayed a little busy on him,” said jockey Mike Smith. “Just because it’s his first time here. You’re so close to the crowd here, which is pretty cool, but sometimes it will get a horse looking around a little bit. So I just stayed more or less just after him to keep his attention, and he won very nice today.”

While Shotgun Kowboy set the early pace with fractions of :23.48, :46.63, and 1:10.81 through the first six furlongs, Mor Spirit took over late and crossed the finish line in a time of 1:41.62.

“We were hoping he’d jump well and sit off whoever, and if not, I’d be the aggressor and take the lead,” said Smith. “I was thinking about it for a minute, but I was happy with where I was at and we just went from there. He ran really good—really well today.”

In 11 career starts, Mor Spirit has won four times and came in second in five other races. He has earned $886,400 during his career.

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