She may be California-raced and Kentucky-bred, but her roots are deep into the Florida Thoroughbred industry, a product of John and Susan Sykes' Woodford Thoroughbreds operation.
Woodford Thoroughbreds, with farms in both Kentucky and central Florida, has gotten off to a big start in 2018, ranking among the top 10 breeders of the year by earnings (with more than $1.6 million) and having four black-type winners on its list so far. The Woodford Thoroughbreds-bred Discreet Lover won Aqueduct's Excelsior Stakes (G3) the same day Midnight Bisou annexed the Santa Anita Oaks.
"Mr. Sykes has retired from running his business and is 100% in the horse industry now; he's full in," said Woodford Thoroughbreds' vice president Matt Lyons. "He enjoys all aspects of it. We pinhook; we bought some foals to sell as yearlings and some yearlings to sell as 2-year-olds. We breed and we own parts of lots of stallions."
They've enjoyed watching Midnight Bisou rip through three successive graded stakes wins for Allen Racing and Bloom Racing Stable. On Jan. 7 she took Santa Anita's seven-furlong Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) and added the 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) March 3 for trainer Bill Spawr. In both of her starts at 2, Midnight Bisou was second to eventual grade 1 winner Dream Tree.
Sykes acquired Tour Hostess, the second dam of Midnight Bisou, following her racing career in 2002. Despite making most of her outings in the claiming ranks, she had appeal as a half sister to stakes winner Bay Street Gal.
"At the time we stood Repent," Lyons said. "And with mating him to Tour Hostess, we got Diva Delite (foaled in 2007). We sold her as a yearling (for $16,000) and she sold again as a 2-year-old (for $35,000) and she was in training at Calder with trainer David Vivian. We were watching her closely as she was by Repent. The stallion had come up with (grade 2 winner) Crown of Thorns and he had this nice filly, so we bought back into her as a racehorse after she won the Florida Oaks (G3, in 2010).
"We took her to Keeneland and ran in the Beaumont Stakes (G2) on Poly, which was her first start on Polytrack and first start outside of Florida and she didn't really like it but ran third in a grade 2," Lyons said. "Then we took her to the Black-Eyed Susan (Stakes, G2), in which she was one of the favorites and she was making a big move down the backside—like Midnight Bisou made in the Santa Anita Oaks—and a horse on her inside thought she was going to get boxed in and cut across and Diva Delite went down on the track.
"Unfortunately she ended up bowing a tendon as a result of the fall. We thought Diva Delite could have been a grade 1 winner and she was very talented filly."
Her first two years as a broodmare Diva Delite was bred to Congrats .Looking to add some size, the Woodford team went to super-sized Midnight Lute.
"We got this filly ... she wasn't an overly big filly as a yearling," Lyons said. "As a yearling she was probably just averaged sized but a good mover. We didn't get her sold as a yearling; we didn't want to give her away, so we put her into our training operation and she really trained well and moved well, but Midnight Lute was still kind of not a real popular stallion at the time. He was kind of going through a quiet period. We took her to the 2-year-old sale where she worked well, she went :10 1/5 I believe.
"Then she got in the hands of Mr. (Jeff) Bloom and he really liked her and that fall he kept calling us to tell us how well she was training. Thankfully she's lived up to it."
And Midnight Bisou will have a chance to add to her growing resume May 4. She'll be one of the choices to do just that.
Churchill Downs, Friday, May 04, 2018, Race 11
- Grade I
- 1 1/8m
- 3 yo Fillies
- 6:12 PM (local)