February 20, 2024

Midnight Bisou shrugs off Wow Cat, extends streak in Beldame

Midnight Bisou and jockey John Velazquez capture the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on Saturday, September 28, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand

Division leader Midnight Bisou will bring a seven-race winning streak into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) after dethroning Wow Cat in Saturday’s $291,000 Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park. The 1-9 favorite didn’t have the easiest trip from her rail post, but her class shone through, and her perfect season remains intact.

With Johnny Velazquez subbing for fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who stayed at Santa Anita to ride top Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) contender McKinzie in the Awesome Again (G1), Midnight Bisou was bumped in the opening strides by Spring in the Wind. That 48-1 longshot set the pace through fractions of :24.83 and :48.09, with Midnight Bisou attending on the inside and defending champion Wow Cat getting the more comfortable outside stalking trip.

Midnight Bisou put her head in front at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.98, and Wow Cat soon commenced her move as they rounded the far turn. Spring in the Wind beat a retreat, leaving the heavy favorite and the 5-2 second choice to fight it out down the lane.

Upon straightening, the two made contact, and Midnight Bisou had her hind end knocked sideways. The Steve Asmussen filly shrugged it off and resumed her forward momentum, in an unmistakable signal to Wow Cat that she couldn’t be intimidated. Wow Cat had no more to offer, and Midnight Bisou opened up by 3 1/4 lengths to complete 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.86.

“It was pretty easy for her,” said Velazquez, who just swept two Grade 1s on a quick trip to Santa Anita Friday. “I didn’t have to do very much, just keep her out of trouble, and she did what she had to do. I didn’t have to hit her or anything. I just showed her the whip, and let her know she had to run. That was it.”

“You’re always a little worried drawing the one-hole in short fields, but I thought Johnny rode her great and did a terrific job riding her to the wire,” assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. “She proved to be the best.”

Another 5 1/4 lengths behind Wow Cat came Crimson Frost, followed by Another Broad and the tailed-off Spring in the Wind. Vexatious was withdrawn.

Co-owned by Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables, and Allen Racing, Midnight Bisou has amassed $3,410,000 in earnings from her 18-12-3-3 line. Her last loss was a third to champion Monomoy Girl and Wow Cat in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, but the four-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute will line up a far stronger specimen at Santa Anita.

“She’s just been an amazing horse this year,” Blasi added. “The way she’s developed this year, she’s turned a corner going from three to four, and it’s exciting. She’s been training great since the Personal Ensign (G1) and hopefully we can just keep her happy going forward.”

Midnight Bisou has strung together victories in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3), Azeri (G2), Apple Blossom (G1), Ogden Phipps (G1), Molly Pitcher (G3), and crucially answered the nine-furlong question when outdueling Elate in the Personal Ensign last out. Her sterling 2019 resume makes a compelling case for the champion older dirt female title, and a Breeders’ Cup trophy would crown all.

One race later at Belmont Park, Jeff Drown and Don Rachel’s Structor raised his profile for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) by extending his record to two-for-two in the $200,000 Pilgrim (G3).

Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the 5-2 second choice worked out a clean trip from just off the pace while 2-1 favorite No Word was struggling to find daylight. Structor swept to the fore in the stretch, and although Andesite gained late to make it close, the winner’s margin was a measured head.

Our Country had a tactical mountain to climb from last early, and scrimmaging with the hemmed-in No Word didn’t help once he started to rally widest out. Thus his third is better than it might look on paper. Famished finished fourth, a half-length up on the traffic-marred No Word. Early leader Tuggle tired to last of nine.

“I didn’t want to go that wide, but I didn’t have any other option,” Ortiz said. “If I wanted to drop in some more, I would have to keep taking him back and I didn’t want to do that.”

Brown confirmed that the Juvenile Turf is on the radar for Structor, a Saratoga debut winner who has bankrolled $159,500.

“I was proud of this horse – how wide he had to travel the whole way. No fault of the jockey, just his post and the way some horses wedged their way in there early. He gutted it out,” the trainer said. “This was a solid pace, :47 and change, traveling three deep into the turn. To have enough to gut it out, I think he wouldn’t mind a cutback to a mile at all in the Breeders’ Cup. He’s an improving horse.”

Structor negotiated 1 1/16 miles on the firm Widener turf in 1:41.46 to become the first graded winner for Palace Malice. The freshman sire has a great chance of turning the turf stakes double with Crystalle in Sunday’s Miss Grillo (G2).

An $850,000 OBS March purchase by noted bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, Structor was a pinhook home run. The bay was initially sold to Marquee Bloodstock for $160,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, and Pick View, agent, consigned him at OBS.

The Three Chimneys-bred Structor is the first registered foal from the More Than Ready mare Miss Always Ready, a winning full sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) heroine More Than Real.