After finishing a valiant second to fellow champion Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) in the G1 Saudi Cup Feb. 29, Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) makes her first start back on U.S. soil in Saturday’s GII Fleur de Lis H. at Churchill Downs, a “Win and You’re In” event for the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The dark bay dominated the distaff division last season, winning seven straight graded races, including the GI Apple Blossom H., GI Ogden Phipps S. and GI Personal Ensign S. The Eclipse winner suffered her only loss of 2019 when rallying from well-back to be second to Blue Prize (Arg) (Pure Prize) in the Distaff at Santa Anita Nov. 2 and made a bold move up the rail to be second by just 3/4 of a length in the Saudi Cup.
Distaff third-place finisher and GI Kentucky Oaks victress Serengeti Empress (Alternation) will take another crack at the champ here. Setting the pace in the GIII Houston Ladies Classic Jan. 26, she was run down late by Lady Apple (Curlin) and forced to settle for second. Returning to winning ways with a front-running 6 1/4-length demolition in a sloppy renewal of Oaklawn’s GII Azeri S. Mar. 14, the dark bay never made the front in the Apr. 18 Apple Blossom and faded to 11th. Don’t count her out off that performance, however. Serengeti Empress won the Oaks after being vanned off in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks last spring.
“If you want to talk about a challenge, this is it,” trainer Tom Amoss told the Churchill notes team. “We face a challenge with champion Midnight Bisou. We have great respect for her but we also have a ton of confidence in our filly. Her preparation has been great for this race and we’ll be ready.”
Also exiting the Apple Blossom is seventh-place finisher Go Google Yourself (Into Mischief), who won Oaklawn’s GIII Bayakoa S. prior to that effort. The bay also won the Groupie Doll S. and GIII Locust Grove S. last summer and was second in the GII Falls City S. in November.