By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: The superlatives were flowing on Saturday when champion racemare Midnight Bisou (Steve Asmussen/Mike Smith) destroyed a decent field to win the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs by a widening 8¼ lengths.
“She’s an amazing mare,” said jockey Mike Smith, while trainer Steve Asmussen said she was “really special” after a brilliant display in the G2 contest, a ‘win and you’re in’ contest for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
Midnight Bisou was running for the first time since her gallant runner-up in the Saudi Cup four months earlier.
“To come back in that sort of style is just tremendous,” said Asmussen, who won four races on Saturday’s card.
“She has such an amazing talent and such a great relationship with Mike. She beat a wonderful-looking group of mares. We have nothing but respect towards them.”
Last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress dictated affairs but had no answer as Midnight Bisou rocketed to the lead entering the stretch and drew away to score at 1-2.
“She’s just an amazing mare,” Smith said. “I actually had took the lead a little before I wanted to. We were planning on laying a little bit closer but the way Serengeti Empress was winging it on the front end we were a little further back. She’s just incredibly special.”
Tom’s D’Etat (Al Stall/Miguel Mena) just missed the track record as he completed a stakes-race four-timer in a 4¼-length victory in the G2 Stephen Foster, a ‘win-and-you’re in’ contest for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Newspaperofrecord (Chad Brown/Irad Oriz) took the starring role at Belmont Park, winning the only G1 race of the weekend with a comfortable all-the-way success after getting an easy lead in the Just A Game.
After a winless three-year-old campaign, this was the first time the daughter of Lope De Vega had struck at the top level since the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf capped an unbeaten juvenile season.
Mean Mary (Graham Motion/Luis Saez) also looks destined for G1 targets after taking her career record to five out of seven with a dominant five-length victory in the G2 New York Stakes.