Kiwi connection in Kentucky Derby

Midnight Interlude has given the Kentucky Derby a Kiwi connection this year.

Midnight Interlude (3c War Chant – Midnight Kiss by Groom Dancer) booked his ticket to Churchill Downs with a Group 1 victory in the Santa Anita Derby (1800m) on Saturday.  He surged late to defeat Comma to the Top (Bwana Charlie) and Mr. Commons (Artie Schiller).

The west coast colt was a last-start maiden winner over 1600m on March 20.  “I’ve never won a Santa Anita Derby with a horse off a maiden,” trainer Bob Baffert said.  “He’s still a little green and I didn’t think he was going to run down Comma to the Top.”

The Santa Anita Derby winner is from NZ bred mare Midnight Kiss.  She won races at Arawa Park and Tauranga before finishing third in the 2004 NZ Oaks won by Wharite Princess.

Exported to North America, Midnight Kiss had already foaled the Point Given winner Prime Kiss before Midnight Interlude arrived.  She has a 2yo colt and a yearling filly by War Chant and her latest foal is a filly by Bernstein.

Midnight Interlude is by Three Chimneys Farm sire War Chant (Danzig) and is raced by owner-breeder Arnold Zetcher.  He became the sixth Santa Anita Derby winner for Baffert following Cavonnier (1996), Indian Charlie (1998), General Challenge (1999), Point Given (2001) and Pioneerof the Nile (2009).

Baffert has two other colts in contention for the Kentucky Derby.  The Factor (War Front) runs in the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 16 and Jaycito (Victory Gallop) will line up in the G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 23.