Asmussen ‘Expecting a very good run’ from Midnight Bourbon

May 14, 2021

BALTIMORE, Md.—Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon galloped over the Pimlico surface the day before Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1). Irad Ortiz Jr. will be aboard for the first time. The defending three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey will seek his first Preakness victory after finishing off the board in two prior mounts.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen again will lead the massive, good-feeling colt from the barn over to the paddock for the Preakness. When Midnight Bourbon schooled in the paddock Thursday afternoon, Asmussen was on the left side of the horse with assistant trainer Darren Fleming on the right.

One sign to expect something big from Midnight Bourbon may be that Asmussen has been using words like “giddy” and “jazzed up” for his quest to saddle a third Preakness winner with the sixth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

“He’s a fun horse to train,” Asmussen said. “The horse is obviously very strong-minded and willful. But he’s exciting to be around. He’s extremely physical. He’s a gorgeous horse to watch. Like I said, we’re very optimistic as horsemen. The giddy part, or the humorous part, was that less than two weeks after the disappointment of the Derby, here we are crazy enough to think we can do it again.”

Asmussen said it’s a positive that they haven’t noticed a change in Midnight Bourbon since before the Derby.

“We’re expecting a very good run from him,” he said. “I thought he was in great physical shape going into the Derby…everything was going extremely well. Missing the break did not put him in the position necessary for him to have success. From where he was, he ran reasonably well but not good enough. Here we are with a lot of horse going into the Preakness and expecting a better outcome.”

Asmussen earned his first Triple Crown victory in the 2007 Preakness with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who nipped Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in a photo finish. Two years later, in her first start for majority owner Jess Jackson and Asmussen after being sold, Kentucky Oaks winner (G1) Rachel Alexandra held off Derby winner Mine That Bird to become the first filly since 1924 to capture the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Rachel Alexandra went on to be the 2009 Horse of the Year.

“Coming back to Pimlico is extremely special,” Asmussen said. “Curlin’s Preakness win here over Street Sense was as exciting as it can get for us. Being a Classic, it being Curlin, being the first time to have success on that level, you can’t duplicate that again. And then to have the amazing opportunity to run Rachel Alexandra here, with the queen that she was, you can’t top those memories.”

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

Photo: Midnight Bourbon (Maryland Jockey Club)

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