ARCADIA, CA – She might have been the least-favorite at the betting window, but Midnight Crossing didn’t care, wiring the field to upset Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita.
Off sharply from post 2 under Brice Blanc, Midnight Crossing quickly took command of the six-horse field by 2 lengths. None of her competitors saw fit to challenge, which allowed Blanc to set slow fractions of :24.27, :48.94, and 1:12.90. She remained unhurried until halfway through the far turn, when stablemate Gliding By closed around her outside, but as the field hit the top of the stretch, Midnight Crossing repelled her foes and kicked away. Elysea’s World and Laseen overcame less-than-ideal trips to launch late rallies in deep stretch, but their efforts proved too little, too late. The Richard Baltas-trained Midnight Crossing crossed the wire first by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:48.10 for the 1 1/8-mile turf race.
“On paper, it didn’t look like there was much speed,” Blanc said. “When I went into the paddock, Rich (Baltas) said, ‘Just don’t get into a speed duel. Don’t fight her. Get her in a comfortable spot.’ She broke a little awkwardly, but I gave her a little squeeze, and she just jumped on the bridle. I just pitched her head, and when I hit the first 1/8 of a mile, she started to relax. She kept relaxing and looking around, and I could tell I had a lot of horse. At the 3/8 pole, that’s when the running started. She was there for me. There were some nice fillies that finished strongly. I was a little worried that they’d out-kick me, but she kept really digging in.”
After running a handful of lengths back in fifth for much of the race, the favored Elysea’s World was forced to bid four-wide through the far turn and into the stretch. She was a neck faster to the finish than Laseen, who was full of run in the stretch but was in tight along the rail behind the winner and Gliding By, who faded late to cross in fourth. Responsibleforlove took fifth ahead of Penjade, who like Elysea’s World shipped from New York for trainer Chad Brown.
Midnight Crossing’s win improved her career record to 18-3-2-1 with earnings of $131,377. The 4-year-old daughter of Dark Angel had only ever raced in her native Ireland before debuting at Keeneland this past April. Until this race, she had made seven starts in 2017, all for trainer Richard Attfield, who’s based at Woodbine. Her current ownership group, Abbondanza Racing and Medallion Racing, purchased her at the Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale in November for $240,000 and sent her to Baltas, who won this race last year with Goodyearforroses.
“It was just a question of if she had enough speed and enough room and she did today,” said Bing Bush of Abbondanza Racing. “You know, I don’t know if I can put it into words. I’m just so thankful for this group. Yes, we’re owners together, but we’re friends, we’re really friends. For us to be able to go through this experience together is just wonderful, it’s beyond words.”
Midnight Crossing returned $47.60 to win, $12.80 to place, and $5 to show. Elysea’s World brought back $3.60 to place and $2.40 to show, while Laseen paid $3.60 to show.