SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – History repeated itself Saturday when jockey Mike Smith, this time aboard Midnight Bisou, was able to just eke out rider Jose Ortiz and Elate to win the $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti (G1) at Saratoga.
The Personal Ensign is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Midnight Bisou receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking from the rail as the 8/5 second choice, Midnight Bisou took back and saved ground early while Coach Rocks posted early fractions of :23.46, :47.88, and 1:11.58. Heading into the far turn, the stalking Elate made her move and emerged onto the stretch with the lead, but she didn’t run unopposed for long.
Midnight Bisou made a wide move in the far turn to circle everyone but Elate, then met the new pacesetter’s throat latch near the 3/16 marker. The two superstars raced noses apart, neither yielding a hair, but in the shadow of the wire, Midnight Bisou’s nose poked through for the victory.
Carrying high weight of 124 pounds (conceding as much as 6 pounds to her rivals), the Steve Asmussen trainee completed the 1 1/8-mile event in a final time of 1:47.92.
“The mare ran a tremendous race,” Smith said. “It was a fight to get by Elate, who is a champion in her own right. With the extra four pounds there, it took me a bit to get going, but once I got her going, I was really happy that she handled the mile and 1/8. I thought I got there at the wire, but there have been times before when I thought I did and didn’t. You don’t know the bob exactly, but I felt like I got it anyway. I’m happy to know that I did.”
After seemingly running too good to lose for the second straight year, the 4/5 favorite Elate had to settle for second. She ran a very similar race last year when Smith and Abel Tasman narrowly defeated her.
She’s a Julie ran the best of the rest, taking third by 1 1/4 lengths over Wow Cat. Coach Rocks tired to fifth to complete the order of finish, while Golden Award was pulled up in the far turn but walked off under her own power.
Midnight Bisou’s win was her sixth straight, all coming in 2019 and all against graded foes, to improve her record to 17-11-3-3. The 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute, purchased by Bloom Racing Stable for $80,000 as a juvenile, has now bankrolled $3,245,000 for co-owners Bloom, Madaket Stables, and Allen Racing.
“Two great mares hooked up at Saratoga in a Grade 1,” Asmussen said. “A beautiful day, a beautiful setting, and two great mares.”
Midnight Bisou returned $5.40 to win, $2.90 to place, and $2.70 to show. Elate brought back $2.50 to place and $2.20 to show, while She’s a Julie paid $3.90 to show.