You could make a credible case that Midnight Bisou isn’t just the best filly or mare in the world, but that she’s the best horse in the world. And Midnight Bisou will further that case at Churchill Downs in Saturday’s Grade 2 Fleur de Lis.
Waiting for her in a loaded field of stakes winners is Serengeti Empress who returns to the scene of her biggest victory, the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. And waiting for the winner of the 1 1/8-mile race is a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, down the road at Lexington’s Keeneland on Nov. 7. The Fleur de Lis is a “Win and You’re In” challenge race.
When it comes to challenges, Midnight Bisou doesn’t back down. The 5-year-old mare owns 12 victories in 20 career races and hit the board in all 20 events. Her record goes beyond the $7.25 million in career earnings, directly to the races she’s won. Midnight Bisou won five Grade 1 races and all 12 of her victories came in graded stakes events.
Since moving to trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn after a third in the Kentucky Oaks in May 2018, Midnight Bisou captured nine stakes races, including five Grade 1s. Scratch most of the important filly & mare races and you’ll see Midnight Bisou’s name on the trophy: the Ogden Phipps, the Cotillion, the Personal Ensign, the Apple Blossom, the Azeri.
Breeders’ Cup Remains Midnight Bisou’s Elusive Goal
All but the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she’s finished third and second the last two years. Asmussen said the Distaff is Midnight Bisou’s end goal this year. It’s the missing piece to a stellar career mosaic that includes one of the best runner-up finishes by any horse this year. And you could make a case for it being the best race of her career.
That came in February when Maximum Security beat her by only three-quarters of a length in the $20 million Saudi Cup. Midnight Bisou was one of two fillies or mares in the richest horse race in the world, but she beat 12 other horses of varying class levels. All but perhaps the best horse in the world.
“We still wonder how she’s able to do it so easily and so consistently,” Asmussen told Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers. “Her works at Churchill have been beautiful … I feel like with what she’s done – traveling to Saudi, taking on older boys and everyone knows the trip she got and knows the circumstances, how do you have an adjective for what she is and what she means to racing? Coming back, the next race isn’t the goal for this year. The Breeders’ Cup is. She is arguably the best horse in the world.”
Only One Race Under Her Saddle This Year
That Saudi Cup near-miss is Midnight Bisou’s only race this year. She hasn’t run since, and has only run twice since last September, finishing second both times. She’ll likely go off as a heavy, odds-on favorite Saturday and that – combined with the layoff and Serengeti Empress – makes for an interesting betting proposition.
Still, can you make a case for any other horse – even Serengeti Empress – as the best horse in the world?