Pioneer Spirit gamely held off Seeking the Soul by a head to take the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial S. on Saturday evening at Indiana Downs.
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The win was the first stakes victory for 5-year-old Pioneer Spirit, who was joined by Apalachee Bay as another first-time stakes winner for Malibu Moon on Saturday.
While Apalachee Bay was an easy five-length winner, Pioneer Spirit had to work much harder for his win. Seeking the Soul, winner of the Grade 1 Clark H. in 2017, gave Pioneer Spirit a stiff challenge in the stretch, but under a well-timed ride by Florent Geroux, the winner had just enough to secure the win.
The final time for the 1 mile and 70 yards was 1:39.82, just a half-second off the track record.
“We had a great trip,” said Geroux. “My horse was very game. When Seeking the Soul came (up to) him, he was going to fight back. Even if we were going a little bit farther, I felt like I had him. From the eighth pole to the wire, my horse put his head in front and kept on going.”
Pioneer Spirit, owned by Steve Landers Racing, is now 7-3-3 in 15 starts and has earned $327,900. The winner is a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Devious Intent.