Midnight Bisou Headlines Saturday’s G1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga

(Midnight Bisou / Coglianese Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the Media Team at Saratoga:

Multiple graded stakes winner Midnight Bisou will look to get back on top as she leads a field of eight in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies at 1 ¼ miles, one of two stakes on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

The 138th running of the Alabama, carded as Race 9, will be joined by the Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid on Saturday’s edition of Saratoga Live presented by Claiborne Farm, airing on FS2, MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego from 2-6:30 p.m. ET.

Midnight Bisou, owned by Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stable, and Allen Racing and trained by Steve Asmussen, is exiting a runner-up finish to Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 22.

The Midnight Lute filly hasn’t finished worse than third in eight career starts, which include victories in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez, Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks under the care of California-based trainer Bill Spawr. Asmussen took over training duties after Midnight Bisou ran third in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, crossing the wire behind Monomoy Girl and Grade 1 Travers-bound Wonder Gadot on May 4.

In her first start for her new barn, she cruised to a six-length victory in the Grade 2 Mother Goose on June 30 at Belmont Park before her rematch with Monomoy Girl in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

“The filly has consistently done extremely well and we’re obviously very excited about her chances,” said Asmussen of the Alabama.

Midnight Bisou’s regular jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, has the return call. The pair will break from post 3.

Asmussen will also be represented by Whispering Oaks Farm’s She’s a Julie, exiting a 5 ½-length win in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks on July 5 at Prairie Meadows. Prior to that effort, the Elusive Quality filly won on June 3 at Churchill for the first time since her debut, holding on at the wire to win an optional-claimer by a neck.

(Steve Asmussen / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

“She’s coming off a huge win and she’s trained really well up here,” said Asmussen. “Obviously, it’s a big step up for her and caliber of competition, but she’s done all the work.”

Rodolphe Brisset trainee Talk Veuve to Me successfully stretched out to two turns last time out, drawing off in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at 1 1/16 miles by 4 ¾ lengths over fellow Alabama entrant Figarella’s Queen. The July 14 race was the first stakes victory for the Violence filly, following runner-up finishes in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Eight Belles and one-mile Grade 1 Acorn this spring.

“We can’t be overconfident, [but] you look at the numbers, the replays and the PPs, and we’re right there,” said Brisset, who co-owns Talk Veuve to Me with Team Valor International and Stephen McKay. “She deserves a shot.

“Last time, [she] was very impressive going for the first time around two turns, so if she can replicate that race and do it going a mile and a quarter, it could be an interesting race,” he added. “Luckily for me, I’ve been able to ride her for the last six months; I breeze her all the time and I know the filly pretty well. She could actually be a better filly going around two turns.”

Julien Leparoux will ride Talk Veuve to Me from the outside post.

Rock Ridge Racing’s lightly raced Auspicious Babe will take a big step up in class for trainer Dallas Stewart. The daughter of Bodemeister didn’t debut until May, finishing a well-beaten seventh in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day. She put it together in her next start, however, breaking her maiden by 1 ¾ lengths around two turns on May 27. She followed that with an encouraging one-length score on June 29, splitting horses in the stretch to win a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming race.

Auspicious Babe will leave from post 5 with Florent Geroux aboard.

Coach Rocks is entering the Alabama off a pair of second-place finishes to the talented Red Ruby for trainer Dale Romans and owners Roddy J. Valente, RAP Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds. Winner of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks in March, Coach Rocks finished seventh in the Kentucky Oaks before being beaten 4 ¾ and 13 lengths by Red Ruby in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and Grade 3 Delaware Oaks, respectively.

Coach Rocks will have the services of jockey Luis Saez from post 7.

Supplemental entrant Piedi Bianchi was transferred to Todd Pletcher earlier this year and is exiting a third-place finish in a six-furlong allowance on June 24. Hall of Famer John Velazquez is named to ride from the rail. The gray daughter of Overanalyze is also cross-entered for the main track only in an allowance optional claiming race at a mile on the turf Thursday.

Rounding out the field for the Alabama are Eskimo Kisses, fourth in the Coaching Club last time out, and Figarella’s Queen, who switched from the turf to win an optional-claiming contest by a length prior to the Indiana Oaks.

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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