by Teresa Genaro
In the minutes after the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx Racing, owner Sol Kumin paced, alone, on the racetrack. His face was tight, impassive. It was not the face of a man who owned pieces of the horses who had just finished first and second.
That’s because at that moment, he didn’t know which was which.
Favored Monomoy Girl, undefeated this year and a neck away from being undefeated lifetime, rode the rail under Florent Geroux, allowing 153-1 Jump Ruler to establish a slight lead as she ran with Separationofpowers, winner of the Test Stakes (G1), and Wonder Gadot.
Monomoy Girl established her superiority coming around the final turn, separating herself from the field, and it looked as though the presumptive three-year-old champion filly was going to easily a notch another Grade 1 race.
But Midnight Bisou, never worse than third in nine career races, said, “Not so fast.”
After having broken from post 7, Midnight Bisou and Mike Smith made their way to the rail and loomed a threat inside the eighth-pole. Ducking to the outside, they mounted a challenge to the leader, and that’s where the fun began.
Monomoy Girl moved right as Midnight Bisou came behind her, and as the latter came on nearly even terms with the former, she came out again, at the very least herding Midnight Bisou, even if no contact was made.
Monomoy Girl hit the wire first, a neck in front, and the celebrating began, by track announcer Keith Jones, who cried, “Let the coronation begin!” and by Kumin and his partners, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables.
And then Mike Smith claimed foul.
And then Kumin left his partners, knowing that regardless of the stewards’ decision, he was a winner, but they were not.
The wait, as Jeff Bloom, co-owner of Midnight Bisou put it, felt like an eternity. And when it was over, it was he and Kumin, along with Allen Racing, who were celebrating.
“She ran unbelievable,” Kumin said. “I think it was the right call. Obviously I was in an awkward position, and Monomoy is a special horse for us, but this horse was ready, and I think this was the right distance. You saw that explosive turn of foot.”
An RNA at $19,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Midnight Bisou was purchased by Bloom for $80,000 at last year’s OBS Sale of Two-year-olds in Training. Now an earner of just under $1.4 million, the Midnight Lute filly was bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds and is out of the Repent mare Diva Delite, winner of the 2010 Florida Oaks (G3).
Impressed by her way of moving, her mind, and her eye at the sale, Bloom said, “I felt like she was a horse I had to have, but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to get her. She was such an incredibly mature, regal presence.”
Kumin became a partner in the filly three months ago, shortly before she won the Mother Goose Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park by six lengths. Standing in the winner’s circle, he finally allowed some emotion to come through, then took a deep breath before heading to join the Monomoy Girl partners.
“They’re probably,” he said, “going to spit in my drink.”
“If you don’t call interference in a race like this,” Bloom added, “I don’t know what you’d call interference. It’s tough to take horses down in big races like this, or any races, but our filly was hindered substantially. It was an absolute no-brainer. Mike’s not going to make a frivolous claim of foul.”
The Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) is “absolutely the plan,” he said, crediting trainer Steve Asmussen and his assistant Scott Blasi for the plan to get Midnight Bisou to Churchill Downs in November and praising their work to get the filly to this point.