Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 27
The 2011 Kentucky
Derby is now officially wide open. The champ has been beaten. Other highly
regarded prospects have left the trail with physical setbacks. Still others have
turned in uninspiring performances. To say you know which horse will wear the roses
in 27 days is an admission of overconfidence. With the fragility of the
favorites on full display comes renewed hope for horses that no one knew much
about just a short time ago. Horses who are developing quickly and suddenly
putting everything together. One such colt stepped up in a big way yesterday
evening, as Midnight Interlude jumped from a maiden winner to a Grade 1 victor
in less than one minute and fifty seconds.
Midnight Interlude galloped into the Kentucky Derby picture by snatching the $1 million
Santa Anita Derby over a game front runner, Comma to the Top. In the process,
he earned Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his sixth winner in the prestigious
Derby prep. Under jockey Victor Espinoza, Midnight Interlude, a son of War
Chant rallied down the middle of the track to get up in the final few strides by
a neck. Final time on the fast Santa Anita Park strip was 1:48.66. The win was
even more impressive than the neck margin when you consider the runner-up
impeded Midnight Interlude down the stretch, but the young horse, making only
his fourth lifetime start, was able to regain his stride and power past his
competitor for the win. The two finished more than two lengths clear of third
place finisher, Mr. Commons, while race favorite Silver Medallion checked in
[See the Santa Anita Derby replay now on HRN's 2011 Kentucky Derby Trail Replay Wall]
Interlude is a Kentucky bred, bay owned by Arnold Zetcher. Zetcher also bred
the colt, and is now dreaming of Louisville with the horse who had only broken
his maiden three weeks before.
even thought about it until this moment,” Zetcher said after Midnight
Interlude’s Santa Anita Derby win. “But it’s a lifelong dream.”
The job for
Midnight Interlude became easier with the defections of the two favorites during
the week, in Premier Pegasus, who will be out four months with a hairline
fracture, and then Jaycito, who was not fully recovered from a hoof bruise.
Baffert did mention that Jaycito, whom he also trains, will now be pointed for
Keeneland’s Coolmore Lexington Stakes. But no mistake, this was an impressive
win for the up and coming Midnight Interlude, and in a year where everyone has
taken missteps, he might be the kind of horse to look out for on the first
Saturday in May.
two of his three Kentucky Derby winners ran in the Santa Anita Derby, none of
Baffert’s previous five Santa Anita Derby winners went on to win in Louisville,
but three of them went on to finish in the money, and one (Point Given) became
a Preakness and Belmont champion.