G2 Beldame Stakes Preview: Can Midnight Bisou Stay Undefeated in 2019?

(The beautiful Midnight Bisou is captured by our photographer — Holly M. Smith)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Midnight Bisou will look to improve to 7-for-7 in her 4-year-old campaign when she headlines a talented six-horse field in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame at 1 1/8 miles at Belmont Park.

The 81st running of the Beldame, for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, is one of four graded stakes on Saturday’s lucrative 11-race card, including two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events with the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup offering a berth in the Grade 1, $6 million Classic and the Grade 1, $300,000 Vosburgh providing a berth in the Grade 1, $2 million Sprint, both on Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita Park.

America’s Day at the Races will present live national television coverage of Jockey Club Gold Cup Day at Belmont Park, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Midnight Bisou will return to Belmont for the first time since winning the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day, June 8. Owned by Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing, the Midnight Lute filly enters on a six-race winning streak, all against graded stakes company.

After ending her sophomore year with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November at Churchill Downs, Midnight Bisou has not lost, commencing with a three-quarter length score in the Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic in her seasonal bow on January 27 at Sam Houston before winning the Grade 2 Azeri and Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Following her 3 ½-length win in the Ogden Phipps, she was victorious in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher on July 20 at Monmouth Park and earned a personal-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure for her nose victory over Elate in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign last out on Travers Day, August 24, at Saratoga Race Course.

“I think, more than anything else, she has continued to both physically and mentally mature as she has gotten older. There’s really no magic to it,” said co-owner Jeff Bloom. “We’re pretty proud of her 3-year-old campaign, but certainly she’s much better this year. Oddly enough, she seems to get better with each race, including the Personal Ensign where she battled with Elate. One would think that would take something out of her, but she was jumping out her skin after the race. She’s just really continued to grow.”

Midnight Bisou, 11-3-3 in 17 career starts with earnings of $3.245 million, is 2-for-2 in her career at Belmont including a six-length win in the 2018 Grade 2 Mother Goose. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who entered the week tied with Jerry Bailey for the most career graded stakes wins with 660, will pick up the mount, breaking from post 1.

Peter Brant and Stud Vendaval’s Wow Cat will look to repeat in the Beldame, where she was a 3 ¼-length winner in 2018 for trainer Chad Brown. The daughter of two-time Eclipse champion Lookin At Lucky parlayed last year’s effort into a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she edged Midnight Bisou by a half length and finished one length back to winner Monomoy Girl in a star-studded field.

Brown gave the Chilean-bred eight months off following that race. Wow Cat, 8-for-8 in her native country with three Group 1 wins, made her 5-year-old debut with a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Shuvee on July 21 at Saratoga. She is coming off her first career off-the-board finish in 14 starts with a fourth-pace effort in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign last month at the Spa.

Jose Ortiz will ride from post 6.

Calumet Farm’s Vexatious made an impressive return to the main track, running second to Blue Prize in the Summer Colony on August 18 at the Beldame distance at Saratoga. After making her previous eight starts on turf, the 5-year-old Giant’s Causeway mare earned a career-best 95 Beyer and will now compete on Belmont’s Big Sandy for the first time since running fifth in the 2017 Grade 2 Mother Goose.

Jack Sisterson, who took over the training duties from Neil Drysdale, has seen Vexatious post back-to-back second-place finishes, including a start on grass in the Grade 3 Modesty on July 13 at Arlington Park before switching back to dirt.

“I think she has a big dirt race in her and if she can somehow handle Midnight Bisou, we have a chance,” Sisterson said. “The way she trains; she trains great every day on the dirt. She has a ton of natural speed and we thought since she had a big turn-of-foot as a grass filly, she’d have a good cruising speed on the dirt.”

Vexatous, who has raced at 11 different tracks through her first 18 career starts, has been training at Keeneland ahead of the Beldame.

“You can ship her anywhere and she ships in clean, it’s not an issue,” Sisterson added.

Joel Rosario, aboard for the Summer Colony effort, will have the return call from post 5.

Crimson Frost won her first stakes race last out in the Bodacious Tatas on September 2 at Monmouth. The Michelle Nevin trainee will make her graded stakes debut in her 26th career start, drawing post 4 with Manny Franco in the irons.

Another Broad, who won the Top Flight Invitational at 1 1/8 miles in April at Aqueduct Racetrack for trainer Todd Pletcher, will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano from post 3.

Spring in the Wind will be seeking her first stakes win. Conditioned by Robert Hess, Jr., she will be stretching out to the Beldame distance for the first time, breaking from post 2 in tandem with Jose Bracho.


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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