Midnight Hawk wins the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita

midnight-hawkThere were just four runners at Santa Anita Park in the $100,000 Sham Stakes on January 11 so it wasn’t surprising that it went down to the last sixteenth of a mile. It was the first major three-year-old race in Southern California this season and Life is a Joy and Top Fortitude were both scratched from the event. Midnight Hawk, who is trained by hall of famer Bob Baffert, and Kristo were head to head for most of the mile-long race which is good for 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby.

Midnight Hawk, who is the undefeated three-year-old son of Midnight Lute, eventually pulled away and won the event by 1 ¾ lengths. The colt’s owners include Mike Tice, the offensive line coach with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL and Joel Quenneville, the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks NHL hockey team. Tice said it was exciting to see the horse win especially since jockey Rafael Bejarano took the lead early on with Kristo.

Midnight Hawk, who was ridden by hall of famer Mike Smith, quickly caught up though and was just ahead at the halfway point and hung on for the victory. This was the first race Midnight Hawk has run without blinkers and finished the mile in 1:36.48. Ontology finished in third place followed by I’ll Wrap It Up in fourth. Midnight Hawk paid out $2.80 and $2.10 to win and Kristo paid $2.20 to place.

Baffert said he liked the way Midnight Hawk ran without blinkers and he didn’t seem to be tired at the end of the race, which is a good sign. He added that he was impressed with his horse and happy with the win. Midnight Hawk, a roan or gray colt, was bred by Mike Pegram in Kentucky, has won both of its starts now and has earned $87,000.

Smith feels the horse still needs experience and there’s more work to be done even though he’s improved quite a bit since his debut. He added that Midnight Hawk seems to get a little scared by the crowd noise and they may try to alleviate that by putting some cotton into his ears. Smith stated that there’s some room to grow for the talented colt and he’s excited about his future potential. Midnight Hawk will run again on February 8 at Santa Anita in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

Meanwhile, John Sadler the trainer of runner-up Kristo, was happy with the race and believes the horse will get better with time, but Midnight Hawk was simply too fast this time out. Top Fortitude was scratched by trainer Kory Owens due to a problem with one of the horse’s back shoes.

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