Switching to the turf and taking off blinkers proved the
right moves for Midnight Interlude as he edged Surrey Star to win the $72,050
Tsunami Slew Stakes Friday night at Hollywood Park.
Well beaten in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness after
his upset at nearly 14-1 in the Santa Anita Derby, Midnight Interlude won after
a pace pressing trip under Rafael Bejarano.
Closest to Moment of Weakness for most of the trip, the
3-year-old son of War Chant and the Groom Dancer mare Midnight Kiss gained a
short lead with about an eighth of a mile to run, then outfinished Surrey Star,
who saved ground throughout under jockey Joe Talamo, to prevail by a neck.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher LLC and trained by Bob Baffert for
owner Arnold Zetcher LLC, Midnight Interlude returned $4.60, $3.20 and $2.20 as
the 13-10 favorite. The win was the third in seven starts for Midnight
Interlude. He completed the mile in 1:35.12 while increasing his earnings to
Back in California after splitting the field in the Grade II
American Turf May 6 at Churchill Downs, Surrey Star paid $4 and $2.80. Temple’s Door, the 9-5
second choice who loomed a threat early in the stretch before losing his punch,
paid $2.40 to show. The loss was the first in three starts for the son of
Leroidesanimaux, who finished 1 ¾ lengths behind the runner-up.
Moment of Weakness and Every Ego completed the order of
finish. Extensive and War Pilot were scratched.
“This is so important when you have the clientele like I
have, who will let you do a crazy thing like this,’’ said Baffert. “Win the
Santa Anita Derby, run in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, then run him back
in the Tsunami Slew on turf.
“So it worked out. They (Mr. and Mrs. Zetcher) flew all the
way in from Boston
just for this. He loves the turf, but I also think he needs a firmer dirt., He
worked terrific at Santa Anita. I think it was just the deeper, sandier tracks
he was having trouble with. I was really disappointed because he had trained so
well for the (Kentucky) Derby and Preakness.
“I took the blinkers off because we’re trying to teach him
something. We rushed him right along, rushed him right into the Santa Anita
Derby, but now we can sit back and start teaching him a little bit how to rate
and finish up like he did tonight.’’