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Worth Watching

They Could Be Contenders
Last Updated June 1, 2014 @ 1:49 p.m. ET

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Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Owner: Godolphin Stable, Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke & W. Craig Robertson, III
Breeder: Richard L. Elam & Katherine H. Elam
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker, Star of Goshen)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Holy Bubbette (Holy Bull, Juliac)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 2-4-2-0-0 (8) 7.00
Foal Date: Feb. 17, 2011

$200,000 Keeneland January 2012.
$250,000 Keeneland September 2012.

NEXT RACE: As of late April, out of action with an front left fetlock injury.

On Dec. 24, Cairo Prince breezed four in :47.60 (2/74) at PMM.
On Dec. 31, Cairo Prince breezed four in :51.90 (48/52) at PMM.
On Jan. 5, Cairo Prince breezed five in :59.60 (1/31) at PMM.
On Jan. 12, Cairo Prince breezed five in :59.90 (1/29) at PMM.
On Jan. 19, Cairo Prince breezed four in :48:40 (7/51) at PMM.
On Feb. 15, Cairo Prince breezed four in :48:75 (16/83) at PMM.
On Feb. 22, Cairo Prince breezed four in :49:90 (51/71) at PMM.
On March 1, Cairo Prince breezed five in :59:95 (1/35) at PMM.
On March 8, Cairo Prince breezed four in :49:45 (33/71) at PMM.
On March 15, Cairo Prince breezed five in 1.00:80 (3/25) at PMM.
On March 22, Cairo Prince breezed four in :50:90 (41/55) at PMM.
On April 13, Cairo Prince breezed four in :48:60 (2/17) at PMM.


Jan. 1 NOTE: Pointing to the Holy Bull. “I was a little disappointed, he went too slow (in a :51.90 work),” trainer McLaughlin said. “He breezes in company most of the time, but last week he went 47 and 2/5 and was out in a minute. Maybe it was rider error or company error, but we have plenty of time to catch up. We’ll put him with different company next week and probably back it up to Sunday or Monday because he went so slow. He’s fine and we have time to correct it. He usually does work pretty well, but he’s the type that if you don’t put him in company, he’ll go in 53 or 46. So if he goes in company, they usually get it right. It was unfortunate, but it’s no big deal. He’s a sound and happy horse.”

Jan. 5 NOTE: With jockey Luis Saez up, Cairo Prince breezed five in :59.70 (1/22) in company with 4-year-olds Qeyaas and Elnaawi, each timed in 1:00.40. “It was a great work,” trainer McLaughlin said. “We worked back quick for us, from Tuesday to Sunday, to get him on a weekend schedule. He worked behind two nice older horses; they all needed company so it just worked out. He took the dirt real well and split horses, so we’re very happy with the way he worked. We couldn’t be happier. There was nothing right or wrong about last week. Today was beautiful. We wanted him to take dirt at some point because he’s never taken dirt in his races, so it was just perfect. He’s a fit horse. It’s not a big deal if he goes a little bit slow or a little bit fast. We have a couple more works to go before the Holy Bull. It was just a beautiful work. We got it all done today. He’s filled out some and put on a little weight. We don’t need to change anything about him, we just need to keep him the same. He gave Honor Code six pounds last time, so we’re happy. We feel like we have a very nice horse, and we just need to keep him at that level. We don’t need to change anything, we don’t need to improve; we just need to hopefully stay the same.”

Jan. 12 NOTE: “I wasn’t looking for 59-and-4 again, but he’s just doing great,” and that's what trainer McLaughlin got this date. “He had company, but he hooked into a horse that was in front of him a little bit. It kind of made him work a little faster than we needed, but he’s doing that well. No worries, no negatives; he worked great. We’ll work again next Saturday or Sunday, a half-mile probably on his own now, hopefully in something like 49, When you ask a horse to go a little slower and they end up going fast, that’s a good sign that he’s doing extremely well. He’s happy, and we’re happy.”

Jan. 19 NOTE: “We couldn’t be happier. It was exactly what we were looking for,” trainer McLaughlin said. “He’s ready to go.”

Jan. 20 NOTE: “He knows he made a mistake, but everyone makes mistakes,” said trainer McLaughlin of the ride Luis Saez gave Cairo Prince in the Remsen. “He knows the horse, and he knows not to make the same mistakes.”

Jan. 25, Grade II Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. After a perfect trip, Cairo Prince won by 5 3/4 lengths in near-track record time. Luis Saez gave Cairo Prince a picture-perfect ride, sitting in the three path and keeping him out of trouble as instructed by trainer McLaughlin, and the result was a dominant win.  Sitting behind contested early fractions of :23.63, :46.75 and 1:10.30 set by Coup de Grace and Almost Famous, Cairo Prince was in striking position leaving the second turn. Coup de Grace had suddenly dropped out of contention, and Almost Famous had the lead but was beginning to tire a bit. Mr Speaker was making a move at the leader, but began dropping back.

Cairo Prince suddenly moved away from Almost Famous as Conquest Titan and Intense Holiday made belated runs to take second and third place, separated by a half-length at the finish line. Almost Famous came in another three-quarter length back in fourth, and Best Plan Yet was a neck behind him.  The time was faster exactly one-half second faster than that recorded by Top Billing, a blooming Kentucky Derby contender, in an allowance optional claiming race earlier on the card..

Kiaran McLaughlin: "I was just very pleased with where we were sitting. We wanted to be kind of in the three path in the clear, and he rode it perfectly, and it was just a great trip. I wasn't woried about fractions as long as he didn't get in trouble. Yes, very talented horse. I just hope I keep him going to the first Saturday in May." Next race? "Fountain of Youth Feb. 22 most likely, but we'll see how he's doing.

“I love for the horse to make the statement, but it’s hard not to get excited when you have these kind. He just had a beautiful trip and he asked him, he responded. He won carrying 122, giving a lot of weight away. Obviously, we’ll look at the Fountain of Youth Feb. 22 or we could wait until the Florida Derby. We’ll see how it goes. I hope he stays as good as he is today. He’ll have one or two more.

“Obviously, we’re holding a strong hand with this colt. We feel very confident moving forward. You just hope we keep going forward because things happen to horses all the time. We just want to keep him the same happy and healthy horse and keep going.

"We gave (Honor Code) six pounds (in the Remsen) and got beat a nose. We felt we were the best horse and we’re marching on. There are plenty of good horses out there and we hope we can keep making it.

“He trains exceptionally well. He’s got a great mind. A lot of times, you don’t get those two things in the same package. He does everything right and he is a neat horse to be around. He’s got a great stride and a great mind.”

Luis Saez: “He broke so well, and the whole race I kept him in the clear. When we got to the half-mile pole, I know I have a lot of horse. When we got to the three-eighths pole, I knew I could win the race, so when we came into the stretch I asked him and he responded. He just took off. I had so much horse. He’s a nice horse.

“I felt like I was in control pretty much. I didn’t have any trouble. I know everyone wanted to beat me, so I kept him in the clear, and when we came into the stretch I felt I was going to win the race. He’s very special. He’s one of the best horses I’ve ridden in my life. I have to say thanks for Kiaran McLaughlin and the owners for the chance to ride him.”

THE NEXT DAY: “Cairo came out of the race great. He ate up well and is happy, sound and healthy this morning, so we’re very pleased with that,” trainer McLaughlin said. “It’s exactly what I wanted to see. That’s the key, because if they back out of the tub, it’s the first indication it was a tough race on him, but he ate up everything and he’s bright and happy. He couldn’t have come out of the race better. He is perfect this morning, so that’s all we can ask for. The most important thing is he doesn’t have to improve. He doesn’t have to do anything but stay the way he is, and that’s all we hope for is for him to stay healthy and happy.”

Feb. 28: Darley announces its purchase of a majority interest in Cairo Prince and says he will race in Goldophin blue.

March 29, Grade I Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Constitution edged Wildcat Red, with General a Rod close by and favored Cairo Prince fourth. With General a Rod and Constitution tracking him, Wildcat Red went through the opening quarter-mile in :24.01. Spot was third after a half-mile in :48.19, with Constitution still close. Spot quickly faded while the other three kept running, and six furlongs were in the book in 1:12.00. General a Rod loomed and Cairo Prince made his move. Constitution moved up on the rail entering the stretch. At the furlong marker, Constitution led by a head in 1:36.46. He managed to keep Wildcat Red at bay and prevailed by a neck. General a Rod finished another 1 1/4 length behind, and Cairo Prince was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by the winner, timed in 1:49.16.

Kiaran McLaughlin: “We’re obviously disappointed. He flattened out late. He looked like he got there and in the clear, which is what he likes, and he just flattened out. So, it’s disappointing, but we’ll look to carry on and go on to the Derby and hope that we regroup and he rebounds from this effort.

"Maybe the nine weeks was telling on him, maybe the inside was better, it's hard to say, but we'll regroup and move on to May 3. (Luis Saez) just said that he got there and flattened out a little bit. He's fine, he just didn't fire like he did last time. If 24 don't get us in, then we don't go to Kentucky. We feel like we'll get in and if we don't, we won't."

Luis Saez: "I had a pretty good trip. He broke so well. We got a clear position at the 5/8th pole and then he was making his move, but when the other horses kept running, he got a little tired. He's better than that. He's a good, nice horse."


Cairo Prince debuted with a 2 3/4-length win under Luis Saez in a six-furlong race on Oct. 6 at Belmont Park,

Nov. 3, Grade II Nashua Stakes, Belmont Park, One Mile. In only his second start, and at 4-1 odds, Cairo Prince employed a strong turn of foot on the far turn and held sway in the stretch to win. He came away fifth of 12 and launched a three-wide rally after Manhattan Johnnie, the 5-2 favorite, ran the opening half-mile in :46.90. After gaining the lead with five-sixteenths left, Cairo Prince rapidly opened up on his rivals and was in front by five lengths at the eighth pole, with Financial Mogul running on late to reduce the winner's margin to 2 1/2 lengths. Noble Moon, who was bumped at the start, finished an additional half-length behind in third. The final time was 1:37.59.
Luis Saez: "He keeps improving, Today, he was impressive. On the turn, he wanted to run, so I let him, and he was flying. I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch and he just kept going."
Assistant trainer Artie Magnuson: "There was a strong headwind down the backside. We thought he'd be pretty close, but you worry at the five-sixteenths pole about how much he has left after he's made a run into that wind. Of course, you're also excited about the Remsen and Florida and next year in May."

Nov. 8 NOTE: Trainer McLaughlin said Cairo Prince came out of the Nashua in good order and would be nominated to the Remsen on the Cigar Mile undercard. "We don't know what we're going to do," he said. "The Nashua was impressive for his second start, coming off a 5 ½-furlong maiden race. He had a great post, he tracked beautifully, and he swept to the lead impressively."

Nov. 23 NOTE: "Cairo Prince might have won the photo by a head," said Kiaran McLaughlin of the Pioneerof the Nile. "He looked great doing it. He's done everything righfor us so far, he's been a pleasure to train, and we hope he runs well on Saturday."

Nov. 27 NOTE: "We don't think he has to be in the clear (in the Nashua); it just happened he drew the 12 and was clear," trainer McLaughlin said. "He hasn't taken dirt in his face, but he's done everything right, and he's a classy horse. We expect him to do well in the Remsen."

Nov. 30, Grade II Remsen Stakes, Aqueduct, 1 1/8 Mile. Honor Code won by a nose over Cairo Prince, who ceded six pounds to the winner, after coming back on that one in the stretch. Cairo Prince had gotten about a half-length in front after they turned for home. The race had a very slow early pace, and neither Honor Code nor Cairo Prince was ever very far off of it. The first six furlongs went in 1:17.56, led by Master Lightning, who finished fifth, beaten seven lengths. Honor Code's winning time was 1:52.92. Luis Saez rode Cairo Prince at 9-5 odds. The chart call: "Cairo Prince, three to four wide in close aim of the front, got set down swinging outside the leading pair from the three path at the quarter pole, took narrow command nearing the eighth pole, dug in gamely fighting head to head with the aforementioned foe (Honor Code) through to the wire but was nailed in the last jump."

Kiaran McLaughlin: "That was a tough beat. The winner is a good horse, but that was a tough one. I thought we had it won."

Luis Saez: "He tried to wait on the other horse (after getting the lead). Last time, he took the lead and opened up five, then stopped a little bit. Today he was doing the same. The other horse, he beat me on the wire."

THE NEXT DAY: "He was wide on both turns and then when he got there at the eighth pole, the jockey was maybe a little overconfident and thought he was the winner," said trainer McLaughlin. "Then Javier came back (with Honor Code), and it was his day yesterday, winning five. Honor Code is a nice horse, but we were giving him six pounds and to lose by a nose, we feel like we have the best horse right now. Moving forward, we'll see. He's the real deal. He'll get the distance; he was unlucky yesterday."

McLaughlin said Cairo Prince would depart for Florida in the coming week, but he didn't rule out returning to New York for the Gotham Stakes and/or Wood Memorial.

ABOUT A MONTH LATER: “I’d rather not think about it,” trainer McLaughlin quipped. “But the facts are that we gave the winner six pounds, and the jock (Luis Saez) just rode him overconfidently. He had his stick down and went by him and thought he had it won. It was unfortunate, but as of now, Saez will ride him in the Holy Bull.”


Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Twin Creeks Racing Stables LLC & WinStar Farm LLC
Breeder: Grapestock LLC & Fox Hill Farms
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Baffled (Distorted Humor, Surf Club)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-6-8-1-0 (20) 3.00
Foal Date: Feb. 11, 2011

$400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August 2011.

NEXT RACE: Look for him to return to training around the middle or end of June after recovering from a hairline fracture.

On Feb. 2, Constitution breezed four in :49.50 (44/82) at PMM.
On Feb. 9, Constitution breezed four in :48:30 (12/67) at PMM.
On Feb. 16, Constitution breezed four in :47:95 (2/55) at PMM.
On March 8, Constitution breezed four in :50:60 (62/71) at PMM.
On March 15, Constitution breezed five in 1.01:50 (11/25) at PMM.
On March 22, Constitution breezed four in :49:30 (22/55) at PMM.
On April 13, Constitution breezed four in :50:60 (17/17) at PMM.


Jan. 10 NOTE:  Constitution was entered to run at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4 and was the 5-2 choice on the morning line, but he was scratched after drawing the rail. Vinceremos won the race for the same connections. “We did scratch because of the post, but we also felt that Vinceremos was going to win,” WinStar President Elliott Walden said. “He had had a start and finished second -- he was ready to win, and we felt that it was the right thing to do.”

Jan. 11, MaIden Special Weight, Gulfstream Park, Seven Furlongs. This was his debut, and Constitution won the hard way. Away slowly from the gate, Javier Castellano put him into the race going up the backstretch. He took the rail route throughout and outmatched Juba in a stretch-long duel to win by a length. Early fractions were very fast, the half in under :45. Constitution was timed in 1:23.36 after hitting the furlong marker in 1;09.71. The chart call: "Constitution hesitated at the start, rushed up the rail into contention, dueled inside Juba into the stretch, took over and edged away under urging."

Javier Castellano: “Sometimes, with first-time starters you never know how they’re going to break. He’s been showing speed in the morning. Today he was the second horse loaded in the gate in a big field of horses, and I think he waited too long. When they opened the gate, he was surprised. After that, when he saw the daylight, he ran off. He wanted to run today, and he wanted to put on a good show. I would have liked to cover up a little more behind horses, but I couldn’t find it because half of the rest of the field was outside. He didn’t get panicked because he went really tight on the rail. I really like him because he’s got good heart, good courage and he never gave up. You could see with those very fast fractions, he never gave up. He just kept going and I let him gallop out. I think this is a special horse.”

WinStar's Elliott Walden: “He didn’t break well, and he’s been a free-running colt, so that did concern us. But he is very athletic, and he showed that in the first eighth of a mile when he got back into the race again and into position. It was nice to see him overcome that down the stretch. It was a really, really good effort, and you don’t see them do that very often. You might see them get back into it, but then they back up and finish third or fourth. It was pretty impressive. He’s very fast, so I’m not sure that we would go right to two turns with him. We’ll see how it goes.”

Feb. 22, Entry Level Allowance/Optional Claiming, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Under Javier Castellano, Constitution left the gate as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10, and he won easily. After once again having some difficulty breaking cleanly from the gate, Constitution was soon on the lead with a quarter-mile run in :24.31, the half in :47.71 and six furlongs in 1:11.03. Longshot Big Guy Ian chased Constitution up the backstretch in vain, vying with Tonalist, the 5-2 second choice, for second position. Tonalist kept running and stayed on to get the place, beaten 3 1/4 lengths behind a winning time of 1:42.19. Mexikoma broke from post 10 and trailed the field after a half-mile, 10 1/2 lengths in arrears. He made a quality late run to take the third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Tonalist. Wicked strong finished fourth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, after also trailing much of the field in the early running.

Todd Pletcher: “It actually played out really well. I just wanted to make sure we got to the first turn in a good position. I don’t know why he broke as poorly as he did first time because he’s not a bad gate horse, but he broke cleanly today and Javier was able to get to the position we wanted to be in, and he ran really well from there He’s certainly very talented. The issue that we have with all of these that are only making their second start and didn’t start until this year, historically, I think we’re trying to buck a trend, but I think we have a horse that’s talented enough to keep moving in the right direction.”

March 29, Grade I Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Constitution edged Wildcat Red, with General a Rod close by and favored Cairo Prince fourth. With General a Rod and Constitution tracking him, Wildcat Red went through the opening quarter-mile in :24.01. Spot was third after a half-mile in :48.19, with Constitution still close. Spot quickly faded while the other three kept running, and six furlongs were in the book in 1:12.00. General a Rod loomed and Cairo Prince made his move. Constitution moved up on the rail entering the stretch. At the furlong marker, Constitution led by a head in 1:36.46. He managed to keep Wildcat Red at bay and prevailed by a neck. General a Rod finished another 1 1/4 length behind, and Cairo Prince was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by the winner, timed in 1:49.16.

Todd Pletcher: “I’m very, very proud of him. It’s a testament to the quality of horse he is – to go from a maiden to an allowance to a grade 1 and to show a different running style and get some dirt in his face and put in an effort like that against much more seasoned horses. It was a huge effort.

“It didn’t unfold exactly like we had planned. We were thinking we’d be in the same stalking position that General a Rod was in. When that didn’t happen, Javier called an audible and tucked into a good spot. He felt there might be a good opportunity to slip inside Wildcat Red at some point. He was able to cut the corner and get through there. You know when he gets in a battle with Wildcat Red, it’s going to be a battle. It gives you confidence moving forward, knowing he got some education and got some dirt in his face.

"I could see the opening. I was actually watching the race live, but also had a TV close by with the head-on view and could see that Wildcat Red was a bit off the rail down the backside. I saw Johnny take a look back like he knew Javier was there, but by that point the seam was kind of open.

“In his first start, he didn't break well at all and he rushed up the rail. He was in a pretty long duel that day and I thought he showed that type of potential.

“Wildcat Red is a fighter. You know that if you get to him, you're going to have to keep working. It looked like they were both finding more and it looked like in the last 50, 60 yards he found a little more.

“We were maybe putting all of our eggs in one basket, but the Florida Derby was the plan that we were all comfortable with. If it happened, fine, and if it didn't, then the timing just wasn't right for him this year. Luckily for us, it all fell into place."

Javier Castellano: “At the three-eighths pole I thought I’d have to go around two horses, the two pacemaker horses. But one thing, it was kind of early and second, I was going to lose a lot of ground. I just took my shot, and it worked out great.

“I was very confident with the horse. The first time I rode the horse, he really impressed me. He broke slow out of the gate and he kind of run off on the backside and I hooked up with the pacemaker. We went in :22, :44 and the horse still had something in the tank at the top of the stretch. That impressed me very much. As soon as I jumped off the horse, I told Mr. Walden and Mr. Pletcher, ‘That’s a super horse.’ I’ve never seen a horse like that, a first-time starter, do that the way he did it. It was impressive.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m from Venezuela, and when I came to this country my first stop was in Florida. I’ve been watching a lot of Florida Derbies, and I always wanted to win one. To win it here is very special.

“I’ve been riding him twice, and the second time was very impressive. We stretched him out, he broke better out of the gate, he ran two turns. I think he learned a lot the second time. He was able to relax beautiful in the race. I think the horse is learning little by little, and he has got a great future.

"It's really hard to predict with young horses, anything can happen. We had bad news with Honor Code last week, so you never know. And now Constitution has come on and won the Florida Derby very impressively. I like the horse a lot, have a lot of confidence in him.

"I took a shot (staying on the rail). It's race-riding. Sometimes you have to anticipate what's going to happen in the race and you study the jockeys. I know that Johnny V isn't going to open the rail for anybody. I took a shot and his horse didn't help him much, when he tried to drift a little. I cut the corner and it worked out great for me. I didn't want to get to the hole and move too soon, a premature move.

My mount is a young horse and stretching out to a mile and an eighth. You want to take consideration and save something for the end. I didn't want to check and lose the race like that. I had my spot and I kept it all the way to the top of the stretch."

Elliott Walden, president of co-owner WinStar Farm: "We try to name horses like they'll be in the stallion barn someday. It was a no-brainer with a well-bred colt like this. Todd will decide when the horse goes to Kentucky. (Todd is) going to go down as the greatest of all time, so we just kind of hint at things. He does a great job and he usually comes to the right decision."

March 30 NOTE: Constitution may ship to Kentucky about 12 days before the Derby. Trainer Pletcher said he'd be watching the weather and wants the colt to put in a workout at Churchill Downs.




Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman
Breeder: Betz/D.J. Stable/Kidder/J. Betz/Robenalt
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Any Given Saturday (Distorted Humor, Weekend in Indy)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Refugee (Unaccounted For, Polish Maid)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index:  3-6-11-0-0 (20) 2.64
Foal Date: May 7, 2011

$300,000 Keeneland September 2012.

NEXT RACE: Connections hoping for the Preakness after scratch from Kentucky Derby.

On Feb. 10, Hoppertunity worked four in :47.20 (6/61) at SA.
On Feb. 16, Hoppertunity worked five in 1:00.60 (20/53) at SA.
On March 6, Hoppertunity worked four in :47:40 (4/42) at SA.
On March 11, Hoppertunity worked five in 1.00:20 (14/48) at SA.
On March 30, Hoppertunity worked five in 1.01:20 (12/19) at SA.
On April 18, Hoppertunity worked five in 1.00:20 (10/62) at SA.
On April 23, Hoppertunity breezed five in 1.00:20 (2/15) at CD.
On April 28, Hoppertunity breezed four on a sloppy track in :48.00 (3/15) at CD.


Hoppertunity was unplaced in his seven-furlong debut, finishing fifth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Bayern and a time of 1:22.24.

Jan. 30, Maiden Special Weight, Santa Anita, One Mile. It was a three-length, going-away win timed in 1:36.94 under Martin Garcia at 6-1 odds. Hoppertunity pulled along while on the rail, stalked in third and easily won. Snuggley Bear was second and Day of Fury was almost three more lengths back in third. The chart call: "Hoppertunity pulled some early then stalked inside, bid along the rail in the stretch to gain the lead, inched clear under left handed urging nearing the
sixteenth pole and proved best."

Feb. 22, Grade II Risen Star Stakes, Fair Grounds, 1 1/16 Mile. Albano made almost all the running, but Intense Holiday came and got him in the shadow of the wire for the win. Fifth in the early running, 5 1/2 lengths off the pace set by Albano, Intense Holiday was adroitly handled by Mike Smith. Reserved near the middle of the field halfway through the race, he went three wide early on the far turn and five wide leaving it. Intense Holday, three lengths back with a furlong left, rallied to the outside of Albano and got up to win by a nose. Albano set fractions of :24.30, :48.14 and 1:13.00. The final time was 1:43.86. Post time favorite Vicar's in Trouble, sent off at 2-1 odds, broke alertly from post 13, was in seventh position after a quarter-mile, and made a sustained run only to weaken and finish third, beaten 5 1/2 lengths. California shipper Hoppertunity finished fourth, beaten seven lengths.

Martin Garcia:“Good trip, they just went so slow. He doesn’t have that kind of speed, and in that race, it was wherever you started was where you finished.”

March 15, Grade II Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/16 Mile. After a tense stewards' inquiry, the order of finish in the Rebel Stakes was declared unchanged, and Hoppertunity's number stayed on top at 7-1 odds after a late surge in the stretch. On a track rated wet-fast, Hoppertunity was always close to the lead. Strong Mandate set the pace into the stretch with fractions of :24.06, :47.96 and 1:12.24. Ride on Curlin was right there with him going up the backstretch and into the second turn. Hoppertunity was behind them on the outside while Tapiture sat on the rail stalking. Once heads turned for home, the race to the wire was wild, and although there was some bumping, the stewards decided it did not affect the order of finish. Hoppertunity prevailed by a half-length over Tapiture, who also surged late, while Ride on Curlin stayed on for third, another half-length back. Strong Mandate backed up just a bit to fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. The 1 1/16-mile race was timed in 1:43.90.

Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert: "That was exciting. Wow. I saw what happened in the race live, and I was saying to myself, that kid (Santana, Jr. on Tapiture) is trying to push us out of the way to get by. We had enough horse that he wasn't getting by. Mike said he just started running when he got bumped. That just made him run faster. He's tough. He's lightly raced. That was only his fourth race, so that was exciting and I'm glad we came. Whether we come back for the Arkansas Derby is up to Bob."

Mike Smith: "There was some bumping going on, but I was just holding my ground. He'd already pushed me out to get out, which is fine, because he was looking for racing room, and I totally understand that. But I wasn't just going to give him ground. I gotta hold my ground at some point. And that's all I did. I held my ground, and we bumped. It caused me to lay in and that caused me to tip. If anything I'd say 60-40, 60 on the inside 40 on the out.”

Mike Pegram, winning co-owner: "Bob is in charge and he knows what to do. I'm just having fun being a passenger. He looks like he'll go a mile-and-a-quarter and I wouldn't trade places with nobody. He's a nice horse, and he proved it today. What you really want to see is a horse that will fight, and he showed it when he got bumped in there and held his ground. He responded. He's a fighter. His next race will be a derby if he comes out good out of here."

April 5, Grade I Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, 1 1/8 Mile. Hoppertunity finished second. After laying in fifth the first two calls, but never too far back, Hopperrtunity made a bold move coming out of the second turn. He seemed to flatten out behind the winner, but that may have been an optical illusion created by California Chrome's strong run through the stretch. After a crowded start, California Chrome rated in third position going into the first turn, then ran easily in second while pressing pacesetter Dublin Up in the backstretch and around the far turn. After initial fractions of :22.89, :47.02 and 1:10.86, California Chrome had plenty left in the tank and spurted away from the field in the top of the stretch. He prevailed by 5 1/4 lengths, timed in 1:47.52.

Bob Baffert: “(California Chrome is) a really good horse. I was really happy with my race. I’m glad I ran my horse. He got $200,000 for finishing second. I got beat today but I’m really happy with my horse. Oh, yeah, he’s going (to the Kentucky Derby).”

May 1 NOTE: Scratched from the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Baffert says its' probably a bruise on his left-front foot but that he'll be scanned at Rood and Riddle to make sure.

May 6 NOTE: No Triple Crown races for Hoppertunity. "It was a combination; his foot had a bruise but when they X-rayed him they saw he had a spur in the fetlock," trainer Baffert told Bloodhorse.com. "It was small but as long as we were going to stop on him, they went ahead and took it out."




Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. (J. G. Sikura), Kitchen, Pegram, et al
Breeder: Michael E. Pegram
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Midnight Lute (Real Quiet, Candytuft)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Miss Wineshine (Wolf Power (SAF), Miss Mississippi)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 0-1-3-2-0 (6) 0.71
Foal Date: May 14, 2011

No auction history.


On Jan. 21, Midnight Hawk worked four in :47:40 (5/33) at SA.
On Jan. 27, Midnight Hawk worked five in 1.03:20 (35/40) at SA.
On Feb. 2, Midnight Hawk worked five in 1:00.60 (18/71) at SA.
On Feb. 16, Midnight Hawk breezed four in :47:40 (6/66) at SA.
On Feb. 21, Midnight Hawk worked five in :59:60 (6/61) at SA.
On Feb. 26, Midnight Hawk worked five in :58:80 (2/82) at SA.
On March 4, Midnight Hawk worked four in :49:40 (45/61) at SA.
On March 17, Midnight Hawk worked five in 1.00:20 (8/46) at SA.
On April 3, Midnight Hawk worked four in :46.00 (1/40) at SA.
On April 13, Midnight Hawk worked six in 1.13:60 (7/17) at SA.
On May 22, Midnight Hawk breezed five in 1.01:62 (14/19) at PID.


Jan. 10 NOTE: Blinkers off for the Sham Stakes. “I was surprised how green he was (in his debut). He’s much better without the blinkers,” trainer Baffert told DRF.com.

Jan. 10 NOTE: “I worked him the other day, and he didn’t want to sit behind horses. Pace is going to be important in (the Sham), and we’ll find out if he can go that far. We don’t know yet,” trainer Baffert said.

Jan. 11, Grade III Sham Stakes, Santa Anita, One Mile. Kristo (2-1) and Rafael Bejarano took the lead from post 1, but Midnight Hawk (2-5) and Mike Smith were breathing down their neck from the get-go. Leaving the far turn, Midnight Hawk got the better of Kristo, and he was able to get clear by mid-stretch. After shifting in deep stretch, Midnight Hawk still had more and beat Kristo by 1 3/4 length, timed in 1:36.48. Early fractions were :23.31, :46.33 and 1:10.50. Ontology (10-1) never threatened and finished third, beaten five lengths. I'll Wrap It Up (13-1) was fourth and last, another 9 1/2 lengths behind Ontology.

Bob Baffert: "He’s still a little green, but I liked him a lot better without the blinkers . . . He was waiting a little bit on horses, but he came back, he didn’t look like he was very tired. He wasn’t blowing very hard, so that’s a good sign. It’s a good step. But that’s the way Midnight Lute is. Midnight Hawk was showing up in the mornings, but you don’t know until you do it. You hate to get everybody puffed up, but the way he worked his last couple times, it was like, he was pretty impressive. We’ll let him tell us when he’s ready to roll. He’s a  big, heavy horse, and he can handle a lot. He’s so heavy, I’d rather run him than work him . . . So far, so good, but we’ll just take baby steps as we go and just have fun with him.”

Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line Coach Mike Tice, part owner: “It’s pretty exciting. It’s nice to be a part of a winner. Anytime you win it’s exciting, in anything, tiddlywinks, horse racing or football.”

Mike Smith: “It kind of turned into a match race today. Today, more so than winning I wanted to find out if he could go long. If you can’t go long, there’s no use worrying about anything else. He proved he could go long. He was much better in the gate today. It was evident the work they have done, he’s improved. There is some other work to be done though. He’s still a bit green down the lane. When the crowd screams he over-exaggerates, he thinks they’re yelling right at him and gets scared. There are some things that Bob can do that should help that as well though. It’s great to see a colt this talented with room to grow. That’s what you want to have. I hate to see him be, excuse the expression, but 'balls-to-the-wall' and that’s all he is. 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.

“He was better today, without the blinkers, than he was his first race. When he hears the crowd especially, if he couldn’t see them today it would be even worse. That’s the way I take it, maybe some cotton in the ears, we’ll see.”

Jan. 12 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said Midnight Hawk came out of his victory in good order, but “we haven’t even strategized” plans for his next race.

Jan. 17 NOTE: “I didn’t see anything in the Sham that scared me, even a little bit,” Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said. “The last eighth, that horse (Midnight Hawk) was lookin’ for a bleeping taxi to get him home. He went in 13 and one (fifth). You could have timed him with a sun dial.”

Jan. 19 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 8 is “an option” for Midnight Hawk’s next race. Baffert said he's also considering out of town stakes. The Southwest?

Feb. 8 NOTE: “He’s been a little green down the lane when he hears the crowd. He kind of wants to get away from the noise, but he’s improving. Other than that, I don’t know how good he is yet. We’re just going to let him tell us,” Mike Smith said on Feb. 7, eve of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

Feb. 8, Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile. Candy Boy stalked an honest pace under Gary Stevens, made a winning move in the stretch and got up in the final jumps. Timed in 1:41.83, Candy Boy prevailed over Chitu by a half-length, followed another 1 1/4 length by Midnight Hawk. Pacesetter Diamond Bachelor faded to fourth, beaten six lengths. Diamond Bachelor led the field through fractions of :23.33, :46.80 and 1:10.84. Chitu and Midnight Hawk were on his tail while Candy Boy sat patiently in fourth. There was almost no change in the order of the top four runners from the first call of the race through the second turn. After heads turned for home, Diamond Bachelor began to fade while Candy Boy began to surge. He got by Chitu in the closing strides.

Bob Baffert: “I liked his race a little better today. He got a little tired there. I backed off him a little because I’m trying to slow him down a little. I liked the way he sat off horses today. He wouldn’t do it before. He’s been a little bit of a project mentally to get him back, and he just got a little tired at the end. But he hung in there. That’s a pretty impressive time. When they run 1:41 and change, those are really good horses. We got beat by a really good horse today. I think they’re both good horses.

Mike Smith: “He ran well today. Those were our best three year olds so I was really hoping he would kick on when I asked him. He was a bit keen early on. I really can’t give him a lot of excuses. I mean, I was there at the quarter-pole and I wasn’t at the wire. He was great today, he didn’t lug in at all. He was good; he just didn’t kick on.”

Feb. 21 NOTE: Co-owner and former Chicago Bears assistant coach Mike Tice, now with the Atlanta Falcons, told the Chicago Tribune, "I think his numbers are good enough to go on in the prep races for the Kentucky Derby, but it'll be up to Bob if he runs in it. The Triple Crown isn't all there is in life. There are a lot of good races and a lot of good racetracks. If Midnight Hawk isn't in the Kentucky Derby, I'd love to come back to Chicago for the Illinois Derby and have him win it. To me, it's all about winning. I'd rather go somewhere and win a race than go to Churchill Downs and run 12th."

March 8, Grade II San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile. California Chrome, who came from off the pace to win his last race, led all the way in fast fractions. He and Victor Espinoza sped through splits of :23.09, :45.55 and 1:09.45 en route to a blistering final time of 1:40.59 -- and left the rest of the field far in their wake. Midnight Hawk, who stayed with California Chrome for a little over six furlongs, finished a distant second, beaten 7 1/4 lengths. Kristo, who was midpack much of the way, got up for third, but he was 13 1/2 lengths back of the winner at the finish. Schoolofhardrocks gave way to Kristo to come in fourth, another 1 1/2 length back.

Bob Baffert, Midnight Hawk: “I told Mike, ‘That’s the horse you’ve got to beat.’ It was a two-horse race going in. He ran good. My horse ran huge. I was a little disappointed running second -- he ran with that horse, but he couldn’t sustain it, and he got a little tired there at the end. You don’t want to see a horse go out that fast. When it gets warm like this, the track gets pretty fast. It’s pretty speed-biased. The horse that won it, he’s a good horse.”

Mike Smith, aboard Midnight Hawk: “He did good. He got away a bit slow. He didn’t break as well as we’d like, but in saying that, he had no excuse. The winner just beat me. I wish the outcome was different, but it is what it is.” (California Chrome is) a serious 3-year-old. People should start paying attention to him now. It was pretty straightforward, to be honest with you. Except for getting out a bit slow, what you saw was what happened. There are no hiccups after that. He (Victor Espinoza aboard California Chrome) asked his horse to run as I did, and he happened to have more than I did.”

March 23, Grade III Sunland Derby, Sunland Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Chitu, favored when the gate opened, prevailed over second choice Midnight Hawk by 2 1`/4 lengths. Commissioner was third, beaten seven lengths. Ridden by Martin Garcia, Chitu and Garen each broke well and ran to the first turn in tandem. Garen took the lead and ran the field through early fractions of :23.24 and :46.46, with Chitu, Midnight Hawk and Tanzanite Cat stalking. Meanwhile, Commissioner was six lengths back, eighth of nine, after the first four furlongs. Heading into the far turn with six furlongs gone in 1:09.60, Chitu and Midnight Hawk pounced on Garen, and the race was on. With Midnight Hawk to his outside, Chitu dug in through the far turn and into the stretch, hit the furlong marker a half-length best in 1:34.58 and completed the 1/18-mile race in 1:47.88. Rebranded, a local runner,, was another 1 1/2 length back in fourth.

April 19, Grade III Illinois Derby, Hawthorne, 1 1/8 Mile. Dynamic Impact won by a nose. He and Miguel Mena challenged Midnight Hawk and Martin Garcia early, pressing them through early fractions of :24.11 and :48.06. Midnight Hawk had a one-length lead heading into the far turn with six furlongs run in 1:12.19. At the furlong marker, Midnight Hawk looked like a winner with a 1 1/2-length lead, but Dynamic Impact came back on him under urging by Mena. The winning time was 1:49.07.

Martin Garcia: “He got a little tired.


Midnight Hawk romped by 6 1/4 lengths in his 7 1/2-furlong debut on Dec. 13 at Betfair Hollywood Park. He was sent off at 6-5 in a field of six, ridden by Mike Smith. After vying for the early lead, he was just too much for the others and hit the finish line in 1:29.76 while extending his margin. Snuggly Bear ran second. The chart call: "Midnight Hawk broke slowly, pulled his way between horses to duel for the lead, stalked off the rail leaving the backstretch and into the turn, re-bid three deep leaving the turn and into the stretch, took the lead in upper stretch, kicked clear while drifting in despite left handed urging and was under steady handling along the rail in the final stage.


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