Derby Contenders

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Bob Baffert

Trainer

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert won the Kentucky Derby back-to-back in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet and again in 2002 with War Emblem. He has saddled 19 horses in the Run for the Roses. He has won the Preakness stakes a record tying five times and has won the Eclipse Award for top trainer three times. Baffert has saddled two Kentucky Oaks winners, Silverbulletday and Plum Pretty.

Victor Espinoza

Jockey

Espinoza made national headlines when he guided War Emblem to victory in the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2002. The native of Mexico City, Mexico began riding in the United States in 1993 and has found great success on the California circuit. He won the 2000 Breeders’ cup Distaff aboard Spain and has ridden other great horses such as Evening Jewel, The Usual Q.T., Smiling Tiger, and Congaree.

Arnold Zetcher

Owner

Zetcher is the former CEO of Talbots, a manufacturer and retailer of upscale women’s clothing. While attending college at Washington University in St. Louis, Zetcher began attending races at different tracks including a trip to Arlington Park where he saw the great Secretariat. In 2000, he started owning horses and his stable has included Grade 1 stakes winners Gabby’s Golden Gal, E Z’s Gentleman, and El Brujo.

  • Photo: Benoit Photography

  • Photo: Benoit Photography

  • Photo: Benoit Photography

  • Photo: Benoit Photography

  • Photo: Benoit Photography

Pedigree

Product of a top-class miler and a staying mare has a pedigree more often associated with the turf.

Midnight Interlude was bred in Kentucky by owner Arnold Zetcher

Midnight Interlude is in some sense bringing his sire War Chant full circle, for War Chant started out as a Derby contender on the dirt before becoming identified as a turf star and later a turf sire. A son of supersire Danzig and champion filly Hollywood Wildcat, War Chant won his first three starts, capped by the San Rafael S. (G2), before finishing second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). He threw in his only poor effort in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1), winding up ninth, but excelled when switched to the grass for his two remaining appearances. A handy winner of the Oak Tree Mile (G2) in his comeback, War Chant went out on a high note by storming from far back to defeat an international cast in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), held that year at Churchill Downs.

Retired to stud after a seven-race career, War Chant has chiefly made his mark with his turf runners -- reigning Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G2) hero Chamberlain Bridge; Irish Group 1 star Kingsfort; Grade 2 victor Brilliant; Chattahoochee War, a course record-setting winner of the Transylvania S. (G3) at Keeneland; and multiple Grade/Group 3 queen Karen's Caper, who lost a pair of agonizing photos in the prestigious Coronation S. (Eng-G1) and Queen Elizabeth II Invitational Challenge Cup (G1). War Chant has had a sprinkling of main-track successes prior to Midnight Interlude, including Sea Chanter, a Grade 1-placed stakes winner on dirt, and the sprinter Peace Chant, but his Grade 2 winner War Kill is better described as a synthetic specialist.

Midnight Interlude's dam, the New Zealand-bred Midnight Kiss, had an even briefer stint on the turf in her native land. In her second start, she broke her maiden by five lengths going 1 3/16 miles, came right back to score over nearly 1 3/8 miles, and finished a close third in the 1 1/2-mile New Zealand Oaks (NZ-G1). Midnight Kiss was then sold privately and expected to continue her career in Southern California, but she never made it to the races here. Midnight Interlude is her third foal, and by far her best.

Midnight Kiss is by the high-class Groom Dancer, whose signature win came in the 1 5/16-mile Prix Lupin (Fr-G1). He has sired a variety of noteworthy runners, ranging from highweight sprinter Pursuit of Love (himself a sire); to 1 1/2-mile performers like multiple German Group 2 winner Egerton and Italian Derby (Ity-G1) victor Groom Tesse; and those in between, like French Group 1 winners Le Balafre and Lord of Men, and Australian Group 1 hero Sphenophyta.

Groom Dancer's daughters have produced a similarly diverse spectrum -- Group 1 winners Rouvres, Tout Seul and Beckett, who could be classed under the broad heading of milers; multiple French Group 3 victress Celimene, at home at 1 1/4 miles; and Italian highweight older mare Stella di Quattro, best at around 1 3/8 miles.

Midnight Interlude descends from the same female line as Grade 1 queen Bemissed, the dam of Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1) romper Jet Ski Lady. Further back in the direct maternal line, his seventh dam is Broodmare of the Year *Knights Daughter, the dam of Hall of Famer Round Table and ancestress of champion Turkish Trousers, English/Irish highweight Minardi and Grade 2-winning sires Pulpit and Tale of the Cat.

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