MIKE SMITH, MIDNIGHT HAWK, WINNER: “It kind of turned into a match race today. Today, more so than winning I wanted to find out if he could go long. If you can’t go long, there’s no use worrying about anything else. He proved he could go long.
“He was much better in the gate today. It was evident the work they have done, he’s improved. There is some other work to be done though. He’s still a bit green down the lane. When the crowd screams he over-exaggerates (when he changed paths to the rail late in the stretch), he thinks they’re yelling right at him and gets scared. There are some things that Bob can do that should help that as well though.
“It’s great to see a colt this talented with room to grow. That’s what you want to have. I hate to see him be, excuse the expression, but “balls-to-the-wall” and that’s all he is. There’s room to grow here and that’s really something to look forward to. For such a big, heavy horse he just floats over the ground.
“He was better today, without the blinkers, than he was his first race. When he hears the crowd especially, if he couldn’t see them today it would be even worse. That’s the way I take it, maybe some cotton in the ears, we’ll see.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO, KRISTO, SECOND: “My horse broke real easy to the lead. I thought No. 6 was going to cross in front of me, but he never did, so I went to the lead. But the winner was much too fast. He lost ground on both turns and still beat me. He’s a nice horse, a really good horse. He finished a really good second. He tried hard to the end.”
BOB BAFFERT, MIDNIGHT HAWK, WINNER: ” . . . He’s still a little green, but I liked him a lot better without the blinkers . . . He was waiting a little bit on horses but he came back, he didn’t look like he was very tired. He wasn’t blowing very hard, so that’s a good sign.
“It’s a good step. But that’s the way Midnight Lute (sire) is. Midnight Hawk was showing up in the mornings, but you don’t know until you do it. You hate to get everybody puffed up, but the way he worked his last couple times, it was like, he was pretty impressive.”
Next race? “We’ll let him tell us when he’s ready to roll. He’s a big, heavy horse, and he can handle a lot. He’s so heavy, I’d rather run him than work him . . . So far, so good, but we’ll just take baby steps as we go and just have fun with him.”
ATLANTA FALCONS’ OFFENSIVE LINE COACH MIKE TICE, PART OWNER: “It’s pretty exciting. It’s nice to be a part of a winner. Anytime you win it’s exciting, in anything, tiddlywinks, horse racing or football.”
JOHN SADLER, KRISTO, SECOND: “We think he can get better. We think he wants to run farther. That’s not the style we wanted to run today, but when it came up sort of like a match race, you’re drawn inside of the other guy, what are you going to do? We had to run head to head all the way around, but he ran well.”
NOTES: Midnight Hawk is owned in part by John Sikura of Lexington, who races as Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc., along with Mike Kitchen, Mike Pegram and former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice and Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
The Sham is worth 10 qualifying points to the winner for the Kentucky Derby on May 3. Trainer Kory Owens said he scratched Top Fortitude due to a readjustment on a back shoe that developed late Saturday morning, but didn’t resolve itself after jogging the colt about noon time. “It looked like we were going backwards and we didn’t want it to get worse,” Owens said.