July 18, 2024

Midnight Crossing steals Frankel in first start for new connections

Midnight Crossing posted a 22-1 upset thanks to a well-judged Brice Blanc ride in the Robert J. Frankel Stakes © BENOIT PHOTO

Abbondanza Racing and Medallion Racing went to $240,000 to acquire Midnight Crossing at Keeneland November, and the Irish import repaid her new connections with a graded breakthrough in Saturday’s $100,345 Robert J. Frankel (G3) at Santa Anita.

Transferred to Richard Baltas, Midnight Crossing was overlooked as the 22-1 longest shot on the board in her Southern California debut. Jockey Brice Blanc eased the Dark Angel filly to the early lead once none of her five rivals was particularly interested in the job, and she did the rest. Midnight Crossing controlled proceedings through splits of :24.27, :48.94, and 1:12.90 on the firm turf, shook off stablemate Gliding By, and established just enough separation in upper stretch.

Elysea’s World, the 8-5 favorite from the Chad Brown barn, had the race shape all against her as a closer. Although finishing fast out wide, the New York shipper could not reach Midnight Crossing in time, and the winner held on by a half-length at the wire. After negotiating 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.10, Midnight Crossing sparked a $47.60 win mutuel.

Laseen, an unlucky third in the Red Carpet (G3) last out, found trouble here as well. Stuck on the rail with no exit, she didn’t get the split until too late and once again had to settle for third.

Gliding By couldn’t pick up when the pace quickened turning for home and wound up fourth. Fellow stalker Responsibleforlove was similarly caught flat-footed in fifth. There was a long gap back to Brown’s other shipper, 2-1 second choice Penjade, who trailed throughout and was eased.

Midnight Crossing came to California by way of Canada, where she competed on Woodbine’s Tapeta for Hall of Famer Roger Attfield. Her best results were an entry-level allowance victory in May and a third to Ami’s Mesa in the Ontario Matron (G3), her only blacktype going into the Frankel. Following a closing fourth in the off-the-turf River Memories November 3, the four-year-old toured the Keeneland auction ring.

Originally sold to trainer Eddie Lynam for €65,000 as a yearling at the Goffs Sportsman’s Sale, Midnight Crossing won once from 10 starts in Ireland for Clipper Logistics Group. She broke her maiden at Leopardstown in her sixth attempt, but notably finished second to Aidan O’Brien’s Long Island Sound at Dundalk along the way. Midnight Crossing was given multiple stakes chances over there, coming closest when fourth to Creggs Pipes in the 2016 Cairn Rouge at Killarney. She was off to North America after selling to Triton Stable for 70,000 guineas at Tattersalls last December.

Midnight Crossing was bred by Tom and Geraldine Molan in the Emerald Isle. She is a half-sister to Dubai Group 2 winner Excellent Result (by Shamardal). Their dam, Line Ahead, is a Sadler’s Wells half-sister to South African Group 1 victor Potala Palace. Further back, this is the prolific family of Golan, Tartan Bearer, Bonny Scot, and North Light.

Quotes from Santa Anita

Bing Bush of Abbondanza Racing, co-owner of Midnight Crossing: “It was just a question of if she had enough speed and enough room and she did today.

“You know, I don’t know if I can put it into words. I’m just so thankful for this group. Yes, we’re owners together but we’re friends, we’re really friends. For us to be able to go through this experience together is just wonderful, it’s beyond words.”

Trainer Richard Baltas on Midnight Crossing and fourth-placer Gliding By: “I just told the jocks to go at whatever (pace) they were comfortable. It was a good job by Brice (Blanc on Midnight Crossing). The other horse (Gliding By) was sitting perfect, but just wasn’t good enough, although she didn’t run bad, either. We’re very happy.”

Winning rider Brice Blanc: “I’ve worked her in the morning and she’s very delicate, very light-mouthed. On paper it didn’t look like there was much speed so I thought Joe (Talamo on Responsibleforlove) would be on the lead. When I went into the paddock, Richie said, ‘Just don’t get into a speed duel. Don’t fight her. Get her in a comfortable spot.’

“She broke a little awkwardly but I gave her a little squeeze and she just jumped on the bridle. I just pitched her head and when I hit the first eighth of a mile she started to relax. She kept relaxing and looking around and I could tell I had a lot of horse. At the three-eighths pole, that’s when the running started. She was there for me. There were some nice fillies that finished strongly. I was a little worried that they’d outkick me but she kept really digging in.

“So far I think I’m happy as my own agent. I’ve won three stakes the past month, so I think he’s doing a good job (smiling). Thanks to Bing (Bush of Abbondanza Racing) and a bunch of his owners for giving me the opportunity with these two fillies today. And, Richie gave me a chance again, riding some nice horses and that’s really all it takes. Little by little, things are picking up again.”

Jockey Javier Castellano on Elysea’s World, runner-up as the 8-5 favorite: “The slow pace was really hard to overcome.  Especially in a small field, I didn’t want to change my filly’s style of running.  She likes to come from off the pace and I thought, ‘Hopefully, she can kick like she always does.’  She did, but the winner didn’t come back enough. I’m proud of the way my filly ran because she came running.”