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Sunland Oaks produces dazzling performance by Midnight Lucky
By Jay Privman
SUNLAND PARK, N.M. – It was her first race against winners, around two turns, in a stakes race, and away from her home.
And it all mattered not a bit.
In a crushing performance that stamped her as one of the elite candidates for the Kentucky Oaks on May 4, the dazzling 3-year-old filly Midnight Lucky rolled to an eight-length win in track-record time on Sunday when defeating seven outmatched rivals in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.
“Oh my God,” jockey Rafael Bejarano said after dismounting.
That’s what just about everyone else watching moments earlier probably said. Midnight Lucky volleyed with Majestic River for the lead for the first half of the 1 1/16-mile race, effortlessly took command on the far turn, and then drew clear with Bejarano sitting motionless.
Unusual Way, like Midnight Lucky an invader from Southern California, finished second, 4 1/2 lengths in front of Countess Curlin.
Infinitely was fourth and was followed, in order, by Fradulentfootnote, Canticle, Majestic River, and Shesatopattraction.
Midnight Lucky completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:41.06, which bested the previous track record by 0.85 of a second on a day when the track was lightning fast. Earlier in the card, a track record for 6 1/2 furlongs was set, and then a track record was set for 1 1/8 miles by Govenor Charlie in the Sunland Derby.
Regardless, what Midnight Lucky did was special. All she had done prior to Sunday was win a maiden race at Santa Anita, going 6 1/2 furlongs, in her debut on Feb. 16. The race was so impressive that Midnight Lucky was sent off the heavy, odds-on favorite. She paid $2.60 for $2 to win.
“She’s freaky. I was hoping she’d do something like that,” her trainer, Bob Baffert, said from his home in California, where he watched the race. Assistant Jim Barnes was here to saddle Baffert’s runners, including Govenor Charlie.
The Sunland Oaks was worth 50 points to the winner under the rules put in place this year by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility to the Kentucky Oaks. It will be more than enough to get Midnight Lucky into the field.
“It’s a big step, but she’s got a lot of natural ability,” Baffert said of Midnight Lucky. “She’s got that brilliance.”
Midnight Lucky is by Midnight Lute and is out of the Citidancer mare Citiview, a full sister to stakes-winning filly Hookonthefeelin. Both Midnight Lute and Hookedonthefeelin raced for Mike Pegram, who purchased Midnight Lucky as a yearling for $220,000 with partners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
On to the K Oaks ......Beholder Vs. Midnight Lucky ...My ticket (in the gimmicks) has both of these fillies on it ! Beholder with her throat prob. fixed , looms a threat to all contenders ..Usually when it comes down to the two best fillies in the race ,someone comes from ' out of the blue ' to spoil it ...Not this time though ..Pegram + Partners know how to pick out yearling fillies forking over a mere 220K for her ...Thats beer money for Pegram , congrats to all connections ....
Wonderful next step for Midnight Lucky; she passed a number of tests. And she won very easily, geared down. And there is every reason to believe she has much more to give, and could even improve as this was just her 2nd race. A really exciting runner. But let's keep in mind who she was beating. Unusual Way is a solid Cal-bred restricted stakes horse, but she's not close to being an Oaks contender. My guess is that there are a number of other 3 year old fillies who could beat Unusual Way by 8 lengths under wraps. In a more legit race with deeper quality, the second Midnight Lucky puts away the other speed, she would have been attacked by at least one, and most likely more challengers, challengers who would have looked Midnight Lucky in the eye a lot longer than Unusual Way. And these early and mid challengers could leave her vulnerable to a last second charge from a closer. Most horses are going to look fantastic just cruising around the track when they tower over their rivals to such an extent that the rest of the field basically melts away on the far turn. Having cautioned all this, there is a chance that Midnight Lucky is just one of those very special fillies, and few will be able to warm her up; at this point she has unlimited potential. But it's just that, potential. I will need to see her do it against much tougher competition before I mention facing males are putting her up with Rachel. Until then, however, she certainly makes it fun to dream.
Midnightlucky and Beholder show down what a race to look forward to. Lets not get too carried away just yet with this one, as we all know these horse's can be like strawberries they go bad very easily. Let's pray for good health for this special miss in the making.
these track officials should be ashamed they always scrape up the track into a paved highway to get track records i think there were at least 5 horses who broke track records on sunday.so what do theses times mean absolutely nothing if the real big horses were running here they too would have broken records especially the ones with front running speed .im amazed at some of the comments you would think these horses beat stellar fields instead of a pretty moderate bunch of horses.the correct morning line for midnight lucky in the k oaks would be about 12/1 and governor Charlie in the derby 29/1 as for the filly in the derby 100/1.
Why say she could win derby. She can't even run in the derby unless she runs against the boys and has enough points to make it. An even if she could run a filly in just her 3rd lifetime start at 1 1/4 miles. PLEASE!!!
Had she been seriously challenged,she would of broke 1;40 and change are you freaking kidding me,I dont care how fast the track is playing, thats some serious Heat. Beholder and Live Lively await
she is the best 3 year old period at this pont , Maybe better than Genuine Risk or Winning Colors,,,,, Stays sound and wins Kentucky Derby. Ask Bejarano ........!
Jay, I usually agree with most of your stories, but one of the elite candidates? Please! This will be the overwhelming favorite in the oaks. If the tried the derby, she would be the 2nd choice behind Verrazano. This is the best filly I have seen in years. She could win the Derby, but if she runs in the Oaks she will crush them!!!
There is a better than good chance that if she was in the Sunland Derby, Charlie would have run second.
A real problem for Baffert, because this filly is something special , Derby, maybe ! I got crushed by her in her maiden race, I was stunned she did it effortlessly, like it was just a gallop in the park ! Take my word, this filly isnt good, this filly is something special ! Same thing Governor Charlie, two races then this cake walk ! Wow !
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