The longest shot on the board at 22-1, Midnight Crossing took the lead out of the gate and refused to relinquish it all the way through the wire in Saturday's Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel Stakes. The 4-year-old Dark Angel filly set mild fractions under Brice Blanc, then held off the late charge from 8-5 favorite Elysea's World by a neck at the wire for her first graded stakes victory. Trained by Richard Baltas, Midnight Crossing made her first start for new owners Abbondanza and Medallion Racing a winning one. She covered nine furlongs over Santa Anita's firm turf in 1:48.10.
“She broke a little awkwardly but I gave her a little squeeze and she just jumped on the bridle,” said Blanc. “I just pitched her head and when I hit the first eighth of a mile she started to relax. She kept relaxing and looking around and I could tell I had a lot of horse. At the three-eighths pole, that's when the running started. She was there for me. There were some nice fillies that finished strongly. I was a little worried that they'd out-kick me but she kept really digging in.”
Midnight Crossing broke sharply, taking the lead right away in the field of six fillies and mares. Blanc eased up the pace to set mild fractions of :24.27, :48.94 and 1:12.90 with a comfortable 1 1/2-length lead. She was tracked by Gliding By and a three-wide Responsibleforlove, with Laseen riding the rail in a close fourth. Elysea's World hovered in fifth position, while Penjade took up her usual position at the rear of the field.
Turning for home, Gliding By and Responsibleforlove made their bids for the lead. Laseen waited until the straight to find clear room near the inside, but Elysea's World was forced to take the four-wide route. Elysea's World kept grinding into Midnight Crossing's lead all the way down the lane, but Blanc had gauged his mount perfectly and had enough left to cross the wire a neck in front. Elysea's World was just ahead of Laseen for second, and Gliding By wound up fourth.
“I just told the jocks to go at whatever (pace) they were comfortable,” Baltas said. “It was a good job by Brice (Blanc on Midnight Crossing). The other horse (Gliding By) was sitting perfect, but just wasn't good enough, although she didn't run bad, either. We're very happy.”
Bred in Ireland by Tom and Geraldine Molan, Midnight Crossing was a purchased for $240,000 at the most recent Keeneland November sale. The filly began her career in Ireland, breaking her maiden at Leopardstown, but she did not win again until her second start in 2017. Midnight Crossing went on to earn a graded stakes placing at Woodbine in July, but the Frankel is her first black-type victory. Overall, the filly has a record of three wins in 18 career starts, with earnings of just over $130,000.
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