Midnight Bourbon, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, will run the 146th Preakness Stakes, trainer Steve Asmussen announced Thursday.
With the announcement, the Tiznow colt becomes only the third Derby horse committing to the Preakness. He joins winner Medina Spirit and Keepmeinmind in the May 15 field.
Midnight Bourbon ran a game sixth in the Derby, despite the 19-horse Derby traffic neutralizing his front-running stalking style. He broke out slowly, but turned that speed loose as the race went on, a deviation from his normal running style. Midnight Bourbon wound up 8 1/4 lengths behind Medina Spirit. He beat seventh-place Keepmeinmind by a quarter-length.
David Fiske, the racing agent for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds, said Midnight Bourbon took so much energy from his finish that it took two handlers to get him back to the barn for his post-race bath.
“We didn’t think he got the opportunity that he deserved after he missed the break and his back end went out from underneath him,” Fiske told the Maryland Jockey Club’s David Joseph. “He got jostled around by the horses on either side of him, then lost some ground. He was pretty wide on the second turn; I think eventually, he ran 52 or 56 feet farther than the winner. So that would have put him a little closer. And speed seemed to be lethal on Saturday. There weren’t a lot of horses that were closing on the front-runners.”
No running early means Midnight Bourbon can run late
Midnight Bourbon remains at Churchill Downs. Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s assistant, put the colt through gate schooling on Thursday, followed by a moderate gallop.
“The horse is doing great,” Blasi said. “I don’t think he did a lot of running early (in the Derby), so he seems to have come out of the race pretty fresh.”
Midnight Bourbon placed in all three Fair Grounds Derby preps. He won the Grade 3 Lecomte, finished third in the Grade 2 Risen Star a month later, and second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March.
With Midnight Bourbon, Asmussen seeks his third Preakness title. He won the Triple Crown’s second jewel with Curlin in 2007 and two years later, with the incomparable Rachel Alexandra. She went on to capture Horse of the Year honors later that year.