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Midnight Lucky conquers Sunland Oaks in record-setting performance
Midnight Lucky didn't need any luck, or much encouragement from jockey Rafael Bejarano either, as she romped by eight lengths in Sunday's $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.
Trained by Bob Baffert, the gray miss was making her stakes and two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile contest and easily proved capable of handling such a task when setting a new Sunland Park track record of 1:41.06 over the fast going.
Midnight Lucky, who also romped by 7 1/4 length in her career bow on February 16 at Santa Anita, sped to the front when the gates opened but found company in the form of Majestic River to her inside. Bejarano allowed his filly to settle in a pressing spot as Majestic River set a blistering opening quarter in an initially reported :21 before slowing it down for the half in :46 2/5.
Canticle had ranged up to Midnight Lucky's throatlatch by this point and Unusual Way was putting in a game run down on the rail to Majestic River's inside. Midnight Lucky easily repelled Canticle while moving up to take command as the leader began fading through six furlongs in 1:09 4/5.
Unusual Way abandoned the inside and angled out under jockey Edwin Maldonado to put in her challenge on the outside, but Midnight Lucky kept pulling away in the lane to eventually be eight lengths clear while geared down in the final yards.
Campaigned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, Midnight Lucky was the heavy 1-5 favorite in the eight-filly field and paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Unusual Way proved best of the rest by 4 1/2 lengths over Countess Curlin, with Infinitely rounding out the top four by holding Fraudulentfootnote to fifth by a head. Cantile, Majestic River and Shesatopattraction completed the order under the wire.
All indications were that Midnight Lucky was ready to run a big race, and the sophomore daughter of Midnight Lute earned a spot in the starting gate for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs after earning 50 points on the new Road to the Kentucky Oaks point system Sunday. She could now become the second Sunland Park Oaks winner for Baffert to win the Kentucky Oaks after Plum Pretty parlayed a stunning 25-length win in the former race to a quarter-length victory under the Twin Spires in 2011.
The Sunland Park Oaks was the final race in the first leg of the championship series of races on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The six races in the second leg will now be worth 100 points to the winner.
Bred in Kentucky by C. Kidder and J.K. & Linda Griggs, Midnight Lucky is closing in on earning back her purchase price of $220,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected yearling. Thus far she's banked $153,600 to go along with her unbeaten two-for-two mark.
Midnight Lucky is out of the Citidancer mare Citiview, who was unable to win in 10 races on track, and counts as a half-sister dual stakes-placed Songofthecity. Her second dam is the stakes-winning Allen's Prospect mare Prospective Joy, who found success in the breeding shed when producing Citiview's full sister Hookedonthefeelin.
That mare would capture the Grade 1 La Brea and Grade 2 Landaluce before going on herself to foal multiple Grade 1 queen Pussycat Doll, Grade 1 victor Jimmy Creed, stakes winner Funny Feeling and multiple stakes-placed Blowing Kisses.
Farther back, this female family is responsible for champion handicap horse Bold Bidder, champion steeplechaser Top Bid and Group 1 Epsom Oaks heroine Intrepidity.