Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing's Midnight Bisou was making her 4-year-old debut in Sunday's G3 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston Race Park. The daughter of Midnight Lute briefly looked like she might settle for third when behind a pair of rivals in the stretch, but Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith hit the afterburners and the filly made up several lengths in a matter of strides. Midnight Bisou hit the wire a half-length ahead of Moonlit Garden to win as the 1-9 favorite; the Steve Asmussen trainee completed 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:44.52.
Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen had targeted the Houston Ladies Classic for Midnight Bisou following her third-place finish in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff last November at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute is owned by Bloom Racing Stable, LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and Allen Racing, LLC and showed her class as she prevailed as the 1-9 favorite in the six-horse field.
Top North American jockey Mike Smith made his first trek to Sam Houston Race Park aboard Midnight Bisou, trailing the field in the early stages of the race. Heavenhasmynikki ridden by Gerard Melancon went to the lead, setting fractions of :24.68; :49.38 and 1:13.38. Entering the final stretch of the mile and one-sixteenth feature, Moonlit Garden and Jose Ortiz took the lead briefly before Smith came with a final run. He finished on top by a margin of ¾ length in a final time of 1.44. 52.
“I certainly didn't mean to make it so close,” said Smith in the post-race interview. “We were six, seven wide early, so I dropped her back. The two fillies in front of her ran a huge race. Once she got going, her best movement was probably two strides past the wire.”
Asmussen made the trip to Sam Houston, where he won his tenth-leading training title last March. His runners have fared well here since the meet opened on Friday night.
“She's a very special filly,” he said. “I had tremendous confidence in the surface here and felt it was the perfect spot for her to make her first start as a 4-year-old. Most likely she will have one race between now and the Apple Blossom (at Oaklawn Park). I think she'll continue to make Houston fans proud this year.”
“It was a little closer than we liked, but she got the job done,” said Jeff Bloom, who serves as racing managing director for the ownership group. “This was a great spot that Steve had picked out to ease her back for her 4-year-old campaign. When I was saw her this morning and in the paddock before the race, I was very pleased. Steve has her looking spectacular.”
Bloom manages all the acquisitions for Bloom Racing Stable and shared his evaluation of Midnight Bisou, who he purchased for $80,000 at the 2017 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. The daughter of Midnight Lute out of the Repent mare Diva Delight was bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds. Midnight Bisou won $180,000 this afternoon, improving her career record to six wins from 12 starts and earnings of $1,715,000.
Town and Country Racing's Moonlit Garden earned $60,000 for her runner-up finish. Trained by Christopher Davis, the 5-year-old mare by Malibu Moon shipped to Houston off a third-place finish in the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds last month.
“She got a good trip,” stated Ortiz. “I felt she was running well in the final sixteenth, but the winner was too good,”
Heavenhasmynikki owned by Looch Racing Stables Inc, completed the trifecta, followed by Prado's Sweet Ride, Remedy and Viva Forever. Song From Above was an early scratch.
Sent off as the prohibitive favorite, Midnight Bisou paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10. She joined an elite group of Houston Ladies Classic champions, including Forever Unbridled, Cassatt and Joyful Victory. Last year's winner, Tiger Moth, has been retired and will be bred to Justify, which was announced last Thursday by Eclipse Award Winning Breeder John Gunther.
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