05/04/2011 4:05PM

Kentucky Derby: Midnight Interlude tries to buck history

Barbara D. Livingston
Midnight Interlude will try to be the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old.

Not since 1882, when Apollo did it, has a horse won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. It is a streak that Midnight Interlude will try to end Saturday.

Many have tried and failed in that quest, including Curlin, a two-time Horse of the Year. It is an admittedly daunting task to go from an unstarted maiden to a Derby winner in four months. But Bob Baffert, the trainer of Midnight Interlude, is holding out hope that in a year without a standout horse, Midnight Interlude is just as good as any.

“I think you can do it in a certain type of year,” Baffert said. “What he lacks in experience could hinder him if he has a tough trip. I know he can get a mile and a quarter.”

Midnight Interlude comes off a victory going 1 1/8 miles in the Santa Anita Derby. That was only his fourth start in a career that began Jan. 29. He went into the Santa Anita Derby after defeating maidens in his third start.

“He’s gone from zero to hero,” Baffert said.

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Baffert said there never really was an opportunity for Midnight Interlude to race at 2.

“He came in late to me as a 2-year-old at Pomona,” Baffert said. “Then I brought him to Santa Anita and got him ready to run as quick as I could. In early January, he had mucus and a cough, so I had to scratch him from a race. He’s always been a heavy horse. Even at the Santa Anita Derby, I thought he looked heavy. It looks like he’s getting fitter and fitter.