Champion Midnight Bisou set to return Saturday at Churchill Downs

Posted on June 23, 2020

If her recent works at Churchill Downs predict her racing form, champion Midnight Bisou is more than ready to return.

Appearing in her first engagement since a second-place finish in the Saudi Cup (Grade I) the 5-year-old mare will take on six challengers on Saturday, June 27, in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.

“More than anything else we are so ridiculously fortunate with her that she has such a strong constitution and positive attitude and that she’s such a happy, healthy horse,” said Jeff Bloom of Bloom Racing Stable, who owns the mare in partnership with Madaket Stables and Allen Racing. “It sounds like a broken record, but she could not be training better and it’s wonderful.”

Midnight Bisou returns from a good showing in Saudi Arabia

This will be the second trip to the post in 2020 for the daughter of Midnight Lute after besting males in Saudi Arabia.

“That’s been the problem for everyone in the industry — uncertainty around racing opening up as well as trying to know what the schedule would be like,” said Bloom. “From a training standpoint, at the time we started bringing her back after she had a mini break at Keeneland, the earliest announcement of a race that would fit the program for her was the Fleur de Lis so that is what we focused on. She comes into the race in excellent shape, and we’re excited about gearing up the second half of her campaign in this weird, COVID-19 year. ”

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Midnight Bisou has been spectacular since returning to the work tab in early spring. The mare worked four furlongs June 22 in :50.1.

“Her training before we went to Saudi was just mindboggling,” Asmussen said. “It’s just like it is now. We still wonder how she’s able to do it so easily and so consistently. Her works at Churchill have been beautiful. I was very tempted to run her in the (June 13) Ogden Phipps (Grade 1) and leaving (winner). She’s a Julie for the Fleur de Lis.

“I feel like with what she’s done — traveling to Saudi, taking on older boys and everyone knows the trip she got and knows the circumstances … how do you have an adjective for what she is and what she means to racing? Coming back, the next race isn’t the goal for this year. The Breeders’ Cup is. She is arguably the best horse in the world.”

Fleur de Lis draws competitive field

For the sixth consecutive year, the 1-1/8-mile Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event and guarantees the winner a guaranteed berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Grade 2) Nov. 7 at Keeneland. In last year’s edition, Midnight Bisou was upended by Blue Prize.

This year’s version of that contest could offer up another outstanding field, as Monomoy Girl, champion 3-year-old filly of 2018 and old rival of Midnight Bisou, won at Churchill Downs on May 16 after an 18-month layoff. Monomoy Girl will not be in the starting gate this weekend.

“I’ve said it before but I think those kinds of rivalries and matchups are really good for horse racing,” said Bloom. “As a fan you love to see those kinds of things. For Monomoy Girl, having been off so long and coming back victorious off her layoff lends itself to the potential for a matchup between the two sometime down the road. If all goes as planned I would expect we will see a race in the not too distant future where they are running against each other. We feel as though we are up to the task, and I’m sure they do too. Bring it on and let’s have some fun.”

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be aboard Midnight Bisou in the Fleur de Lis and they will leave from post 5.

Despite Monomoy Girl bypassing the race, Midnight Bisou will have plenty of competition. There is Joe Politi’s speedy 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner Serengeti Empress, who annexed the March 14 Azeri Stakes (Grade II) at Oaklawn Park.

“We have all the confidence in the world of our filly,” said trainer Tom Amoss. “We know how she likes to go and that’s to be on the lead. It’s a tough matchup against a champion, but the way our horse has prepared for this race has us very confident she’ll put in a great performance.”

A 4-year-old daughter of Alternation, Serengeti Empress began the season year with a runner-up finish in the Jan. 26 Houston Ladies Classic (Grade III) at Sam Houston Race Park prior to her triumph in the Azeri. She did not hit the board, however, in the Apple Blossom (Grade I) on April 16.

Joe Talamo will be in the irons when the pair leaves from post 4.

The Fleur de Lis field also includes Jay Em Ess Stable’s Grade III winner Go Google Yourself; Abbondanza Racing, Mark DeDomenico, and Medallion Racing’s stakes winner Motion Emotion; Debby Oxley’s recent Shawnee Stakes runner-up Chocolate Kisses; Calumet Farm’s three-time winner Red Dane and Farfellow Farm’s multiple graded stakes placer Another Broad.

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Kimberly French

Kimberly French is an award winning freelance journalist specializing in horse racing and horse health living in Louisville, KY. Her work has appeared in more than 25 national and international publications. She is currently the editor of Hoof Beats magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Trotting Association and the special assistant to the president for the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

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