Analysis: Midnight Bisou fits in prospective Saudi Cup field

November 13, 2019 09:22am
From a competition standpoint, aiming for the new $20 million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz racetrack makes sense for the 4-year-old filly Midnight Bisou. Even though she ran second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, there is no reason to believe she cannot fare well against males at nine furlongs.

The idea that a female needs to hold a perfect record in order to succeed against males is false, as sometimes those female Grade 1 are similarly difficult. 

Remember Serena's Song and her campaigns in 1995 and 1996? She competed against males six times those seasons and won two of those races, the 1995 Jim Beam Stakes (G2) and Haskell Invitational (G1). But her record against females reflects several losses too, including a runner-up finish in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) before the Haskell.

Consider the pending field for the Saudi Cup, there is no reason why Midnight Bisou should not take a shot.

Reading down the list, the only horse worthy of exceedingly high respect is Maximum Security. Given he crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby, then won the Florida Derby (G1) and Haskell, his credentials are not in question. He also recently captured the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) exiting a layoff with some of his best speed figures yet.

While Midnight Bisou fits competing against the current version of Maximum Security, the latter is also horse capable of going on a Gun Runner-type tear next season.

But the rest of the list lacks any potential superstars, and any placing in the world's richest race -- which has no entry fee -- would pay quite well.

Before the Distaff loss, Midnight Bisou won seven races in a row, including the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1), the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) and Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). Her TimeformUS figures ranged from 110 to 127 in that time span.

To compare those numbers to a few males, Maximum Security ran a 128 in his Bold Ruler and Haskell wins. Tacitus, another being pointed to the Saudi Cup, earned a 124 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), and McKinzie picked up a 129 in his Breeders' Cup Classic loss.

Going from age 4 to 5, Midnight Bisou's numbers already fit, and she still could improve some. In her final three starts of 2019, the daughter of Midnight Lute also proved she can contend in top-level races at 1 1/8 miles, which was a question mark on her resume until a hard-fought win over Elate in Saratoga's Personal Ensign (G1).

As far as other potential Saudi Cup competition, Mucho Gusto has won consistently at the Grade 3 level; Gift Box ran Vino Rosso close in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) before tailing off this season; and Higher Power and Math Wizard seem more competitive in the Dubai World Cup (G1) at 1 1/4 miles.

Bravazo is close to returning and will do so with some hype. But until proven otherwise, this is just a board hitter on a 10-race losing streak.

Gronkowski is an interesting closer off since the Dubai World Cup, when he finished a good second to Thunder Snow. But similar to Bravazo, this horse is on a losing streak of six races and needs to prove himself.

Joevia has not been seen since his pace-setting third in the Belmont Stakes behind Sir Winston and Tacitus. He could become a major player if he moves forward. But without any races since that effort, it is difficult to tell.

And those are among the top male horses Midnight Bisou could face in Saudi Arabia. 

If Midnight Bisou enjoys a nice trip and runs to the level we saw so consistently this season, there is no reason why she cannot compete against some big names that, in reality, make up a mediocre group of male rivals. None of the horses lining up against her seem like monsters yet, although as noted, Maximum Security does hold the potential.

Given the prize money and Midnight Bisou's talent, the Saudi Cup is a logical choice for this filly returning to the races. She fits as a solid contender if she goes in that direction.

2020 Saudi Cup


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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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