Even-money favorite Midnight Lucky bounced back from her effort in the Kentucky Oaks and rolled to a commanding 6 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 Acorn at Belmont Park.
It was the third victory in four starts for the 3-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute, who had set the pace and finished fifth as one of the favorites in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3. Monday, with new jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard, Midnight Lucky overcame a stumble at the start and then perched in second, on the outside, behind fractions of 22.53 and 45.28 seconds set by 32-1 shot Momentary Magic. Moving up eagerly on the turn, Midnight Lucky took over at the quarter-pole and never looked back as she completed the mile in 1:35.11.
“We had a great trip,” Napravnik told NYRA Press. “I really liked the post position (No. 5) and we were able to sit off the speed. Kauai Katie actually kind of had to sit back, so it was good for us, too. This filly just did it very easily and she’s a very, very nice filly.”
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert – who won last year’s Acorn with Contested – Midnight Lucky earned $180,000 to nearly double her bankroll to $362,100 for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman with her first graded stakes score. She returned $4.20 for a $2 win bet.
“I was expecting maybe the 1 [Kauai Katie] to be on the lead, not the 2 [Momentary Magic], but other than that it shaped up as I expected,” said Baffert’s assistant, Jim Barnes. “I wanted to be sitting anywhere from 2 to 2 ½ lengths off the pace, which we were. They were moving right along, and at no point did it look like she was struggling with the racetrack. She’s just a really nice filly and we’re so happy to train her. The plan right now is day by day. We’ll go back to Churchill and go from there.”
A $220,000 yearling purchase at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton select sales in Saratoga, Midnight Lucky broke her maiden by 7 ¼ lengths on February 13 at Santa Anita Park, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, then was an eight-length winner of the ungraded Sunland Park Oaks on March 24, running the 1 1/16 miles in a track-record 1:41.06.
Close Hatches rallied from last to finish second, with Kauai Katie finishing another three-quarters of a length back in third. Following her under the wire were Cue the Moon, Let Me Entertain U, and Momentary Magic.