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The Kentucky Derby Post

2014 Kentucky Derby: Midnight Hawk back for the Lewis

Midnight Hawk breaks maiden in BHP debut.
Photo: Benoit Photo


Not even the best thoroughbred trainers in the world are guaranteed an entry into the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Such was the case for Bob Baffert in 2013. After War Academy was eased up and did not finish in the Arkansas Derby, the misfortunes for Baffert’s barn continued. At the end of April three Baffert horses had qualified for the Derby, yet their status was still uncertain. Then on the Sunday before the Run for the Roses, Power Broker was ruled out. On the next day a final decision on Code West and Govenor Charlie was also made.


For the first time since 2008, there would be no horse running in the Kentucky Derby for the legendary trainer. But, that’s just horse racing and the result of a very challenging prep season. However, as with any Hall of Famer you can’t count them out for too long.


This weekend,Bob Baffert features two strong contenders in a Santa Anita Derby prep when Midnight Hawk and Chitu continue their pursuit of qualifying for the 2014 Kentucky Derby in the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, worth a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1).


Together, these two are a perfect 4-for-4 but Midnight Hawk is the stronger contender as one of his two wins was in a Kentucky Derby qualifying prep. That was when this colt by Midnight Lute and Miss Wineshine got the best of a very small field in the Sham Stakes. After two entries scratched, the field dropped to only four starters but in the end it was really just a match race.


It came down to Midnight Hawk and Kristo who took the lead going into the first turn. The two traded leads by no more than a head through the backstretch and into the final turn before Midnight Hawk claimed the lead in the stretch and fended off a closing bid by Kristo in the final furlong. The two set honest fractions out front at 23.31, 46.33, 1:10.50 before Midnight Hawk finished in 1:36.48.


Mike Smith is set to return and seems confident about his colt’s potential for qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. After his win in the Sham Smith said, "There's room to grow here and that's really something to look forward to. For such a big, heavy horse he just floats over the ground." Baffert himself has his own ideas on how good this 3-yr-old can be but he knows there's still a long way to go. "So far, so good but we'll just take baby steps as we go and just have fun." A big step could come on Saturday as this should be a true test against better class and a slightly bigger field.


As for Chitu, this will be his first dose of graded stakes racing. He has been solid but his success hasn't answered a lot of questions surrounding his chances of becoming a Kentucky Derby starter. By Henny Hughes and Sea Gift, Chitu will be displaying his racing ability through two turns for the very first time. In two successful trips over 6 furlongs in December, one at Hollywood Park and one at Santa Anita, Chitu clocked at or under 1:09 both times while racing on or just off the lead in the opening quarter. Breaking from the far outside, I expect jockey Martin Garcia to urge him out of the gate and to the front as he does not appear to be a horse that will tuck in and make a prevailing bid from off the pace.


That may be the probable strategy for team Baffert. Last time out Midnight Hawk was able to get on the lead with Kristo rather quickly but in this race here I’m looking for Mike Smith to get him in a comfortable stalking position before calling on through the final turn. As for Chitu I think his best shot at winning this race is the old fashion wire to wire score.


As for the remainder of the field here is your starting line-up in the 2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes


Horse lbs Jockey Trainer
Candy Boy 118 G. Stevens J. Sadler
Diamond Bachelor 118 J. Leparoux P. Biancone
Midnight Hawk 120 M. Smith B. Baffert
Home Run Kitten 118 J. Talamo D. Hoffmans
Cool Samurai 118 C. Nakatani J. Shirreffs
El Nino Terrible 118 E. Maldonado P. Miller
Chitu 118 M. Garcia B. Baffert




It’s easier to make tough decisions on withdrawing your horse from the biggest race of the year when you’ve earned the trophy before. For Baffert he’s compiled over 20 Kentucky Derby starts that resulted in three wins (War Emblem, Real Quiet, Silver Charm) and three runner-up finishes (Pioneerof the Nile, Bodemeister, Cavonnier). Of those, a memorable win came in 1998 with one of his most recognized owners, Mike Pegram. With Real Quiet and their back pocket the decision to withdraw Govenor Charlie was probably an easy one.


However, Midnight Hawk brings two other figures into the owner’s suite that are both looking for their very first Kentucky Derby starter. Chicago Blackhawks head Coach Joel Quenneville and Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line coach Mike Tice are a part of the team and they are going to be a fun story to watch this season. Since they are new to it we wish them the best of luck because as we saw with Code West and Power Broker last season, qualifying but having to skip can be very tough for owners.


Other notable Baffert horses that are contenders for the Kentucky Derby are Indianapolis, Tap it Rich and Bayern.


Previously known as the Santa Catalina Stakes it was renamed in honor of Robert B. Lewis in 2007. Last year Bob Baffert joined Charles Wittingham and Ron McAnally with four wins in this stakes race, the most by a trainer. The last Robert B. Lewis winner to go on and win the Kentucky Derby was I’ll Have Another in 2012. Prior, it was Ferdinand in 1986 that also won them both. 


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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Midnight Hawk back for the Lewis...

we had a sire here called Little Round Table
How about posting POST TIME so those of us watching Trackside Live will know what time to tune in???
I am a great fan of Round Table Blood
Love the "Hawk" but Candy Boy scares me... as does Diamond Bachelor (smart work tab).

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer 

Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, KY. And, it was there that my attraction to the sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about and a pleasure to cover. It all begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 

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