Champion older dirt female Midnight Bisou made short work of the expected clash with reigning Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress in Saturday’s $200,000 Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs. Launching an Eclipse Award-caliber move on the far turn, the 1-2 favorite blew past Serengeti Empress entering the stretch and opened up to take the “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) by 8 1/4 lengths.
The top-ranked Thoroughbred on the NTRA poll, Midnight Bisou was coming off an excellent second to Maximum Security in the $20 million Saudi Cup back on Feb. 29. Any potential quibble about the layoff, or the fact that Serengeti Empress promised to have things her own way up front, meant nothing as the Steve Asmussen mare was a class apart.
Serengeti Empress, the 8-5 second choice, didn’t break on top but quickly shot to the front. For the next 6 furlongs, the free-wheeling filly had her desired scenario as she rattled off fractions of :23.18, :46.15, and 1:09.74 on a fast track. Motion Emotion chased in second without getting close enough to apply pressure.
Meanwhile, Midnight Bisou was striding along comfortably another several lengths back, just about in tandem with Chocolate Kisses. The champion parted company with her, however, entering the far turn. By that point, Motion Emotion was also gaining on Serengeti Empress, but neither could cope with the sheer force of the favorite.
Engulfing the leaders, Midnight Bisou drew off under conservative handling by Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The daughter of Midnight Lute extended her advantage, despite being under wraps for the length of the stretch. After reaching the mile in 1:35.40, she was just galloping her last furlong in :13.59 for a final time of 1:48.99 for 1 1/8 miles.
There was more suspense for the minors as Serengeti Empress wilted. Motion Emotion churned on to take second, and deep closer Another Broad snatched third by a half-length. Serengeti Empress clung to the bottom rung of the superfecta by a head from Red Dane. Go Google Yourself was a remote sixth, and Chocolate Kisses a distant last.
Campaigned by Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables, and Allen Racing, Midnight Bisou has amassed $7,371,520 from a 21-13-5-3 line. All of her wins have come in graded stakes. At three in 2018, she captured the Cotillion (G1) (via disqualification of Monomoy Girl), Santa Anita Oaks (G1), Mother Goose (G2), Santa Ynez (G2), and Santa Ysabel (G3). During her Eclipse Award season in 2019, Midnight Bisou compiled a seven-race winning skein – the Houston Ladies’ Classic (G3), Azeri (G2), Apple Blossom (G1), Ogden Phipps (G1), Molly Pitcher (G3), Personal Ensign (G1), and Beldame (G2).
Her streak was snapped in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, where she ground her way into second to Blue Prize without ever appearing in love with the surface. Midnight Bisou was placing in the Distaff for the second straight year, having finished third to Monomoy Girl in the 2018 edition at Churchill. Her other marquee placings include the 2018 Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), also to Monomoy Girl, as well as that summer’s Alabama (G1). With Monomoy Girl now back in action, the prospect of a renewed match-up against a much-improved Midnight Bisou would be tantalizing.
Midnight Bisou was bred by Woodford Thoroughbreds in Kentucky. A $19,000 RNA as a yearling at Keeneland September, the dark bay sold to Jeffrey Bloom, agent, for $80,000 as an OBS April juvenile. She is out of the Grade 3-winning Repent mare Diva Delite, who is also the dam of stakes-placed Stage Left.