Bob Baffert admits that his charge, Midnight Interlude, won’t be the fastest horse in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7th. He does think that the colt’s endurance could make him a winner at the mile and a quarter distance.
The son of War Chant, Midnight Interlude won the Santa Anita Derby in something of a surprise (he was 13-1 at post time) and was instantly transformed from ‘unproven prospect’ to ‘Kentucky Derby contender’. At the time, Baffert praised the horse’s toughness:
“We weren’t sure. He’d been training well, but he hadn’t had the class test, gut-check yet.”
Baffert reprised this theme after Midnight Interlude breezed with stablemate Mythical Power on Wednesday:
“He’s a heck of a horse; he doesn’t get tired. He can get the distance. It takes him awhile to get going, but he’s fast when he does.”
In some years, the fact that Midnight Interlude ‘takes a while to get going’ would be very problematic but in a Kentucky Derby field without much apparent speed from the front he could find a made to order pace on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. Victor Espinoza will be aboard Midnight Interlude on Derby Day, but his Wednesday workout rider–and a top notch jockey in his own right–Martin Garcia had considerable praise for the horse:
“He’s a really nice horse. I rode him in his first start, and to go from a maiden to a Grade 1 win shows he’s really talented.”
Midnight Interlude has been a much needed boost to Baffert, who has experienced a rough time on the Derby trail in 2011. At one point he was expected to have three horses in the Kentucky Derby field but Jaycito is still battling his chronic foot issues and The Factor was ruled out of the race by his owner leaving Midnight Interlude as Baffert’s only entrant. On Tuesday, Baffert trained Gilded Gem broke down and had to be euthanized. Gilded Gem was the workmate for Kentucky Oaks hopeful Plum Pretty. Plum Pretty was not injured, and Garcia said that she worked well prior to the tragic injury to her stablemate.