Midnight Hawk powered away to a clear win in the Sham Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
Ever wonder how owning a racehorse on the Triple Crown trail compares with competing in the National Football League playoffs or the National Hockey League’s postseason run to the Stanley Cup?
With Midnight Hawk winning the Grade 3 Sham Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Park for an ownership group that includes an NFL coach and a pair of coaches in the NHL, it appears racing fans are about to find out.
Midnight Hawk outdueled game pacesetter Kristo to prevail by 1 ¾ lengths in the $100,000 Sham Stakes. He earned 10 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby scoring system that determines which horses make the field for the first jewel of the Triple Crown.
Midnight Hawk races for an ownership group that includes Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice and Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Kitchen as well as John G. Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holding and Midnight Hawk’s breeder, Mike Pegram.
Tice, formerly the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, and Quenneville both are passionate fans of horse racing, with Tice hitting a pair of pick six bets at Del Mar within a week last August and Quenneville owning horses in partnership in the past. After the Sham, it’s fair to say they have a good one.
Midnight Hawk entered the Sham off a dominant 6 ¼-length romp in his career debut in December at Hollywood Park. He had no trouble making the step up from a maiden race to a Kentucky Derby prep race.
Midnight Hawk dueled Kristo through a swift opening half-mile in :46.33 and the duo battled it out around the turn for home. Midnight Hawk then surged away to a clear lead under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith. He did show some immaturity by ducking in toward the rail after taking command but nonetheless won easily.
The gray or roan colt by Midnight Lute completed a mile in 1:36.48 to improve to 2-for-2 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Baffert has yet to decide on a next race for Midnight Hawk.
“We’ll let him tell us when he’s ready to roll. He’s a big, heavy horse, and he can handle a lot. He’s so heavy, I’d rather run him than work him,” Baffert said. “So far, so good, but we’ll just take baby steps as we go and just have fun with him.”
Pegram raced Midnight Hawk’s sire, champion sprinter Midnight Lute, as well as his grandsire (paternal grandfather), 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet. Pegram also raced Midnight Hawk’s dam (mother), Miss Wineshine, a stakes winner who finished third in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes in 1999.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
TICE GUIDES MIDNIGHT HAWK TO WINNER'S CIRCLE
Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates