September 18, 2021

Midnight Bisou holds all cards in Beldame; Pilgrim attracts nine

Midnight Bisou and jockey Mike Smith capture the Azeri Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park on March 16, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park

She’s already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) by virtue of her photo-finish win in the Personal Ensign and has virtually sewn up an Eclipse Award following earlier wins this season in the Azeri (G2), Apple Blossom H. (G1), Ogden Phipps (G1), and Molly Pitcher (G3).

That’s the tremendous class and form advantage Midnight Bisou brings into Saturday’s $300,000 Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park, her final nine-furlong stopover before Santa Anita. Midnight Bisou has found the one-turn at Belmont quite hospitable having garnered the Mother Goose (G2) at three in addition to her easy Phipps triumph in June.

“We’re pretty proud of her three-year-old campaign, but certainly she’s much better this year,” co-owner Jeff Bloom said. “Oddly enough, she seems to get better with each race, including the Personal Ensign where she battled with Elate. One would think that would take something out of her, but she was jumping out her skin after the race. She’s just really continued to grow.”

Among her five rivals is Wow Cat, won won the 2018 Beldame by more than three lengths before finishing a fast-closing second in the Breeders’ Cup. However, the Chilean-bred has finished second and fourth in her only two starts this term, though both were at Saratoga, where she is winless in four starts.

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Nine two-year-olds with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) aspirations will line up in the $200,000 Pilgrim (G3) at 1 1/16 miles over the Widener turf.

Two debut winners from the Saratoga meet, the Todd Pletcher-trained No Word and the Chad Brown-conditioned Structor, could vie for favoritism.

The top two from Saratoga’s With Anticipation (G3) are not in, but Andesite and Our Country will attempt to improve on their respective third- and fourth-place finishes in that 1 1/16-mile heat.

Tuggle, sixth in the With Anticipation after a rough journey early, is a son of prominent grass performer Point of Entry and could improve.

“I’m drawing a line through that last race,” said trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who won the 2018 Pilgrim with Forty Under.