Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Midnight Bourbon

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 17th, 2021

As the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) twice, Tiznow was a pretty special racehorse. He was also a pretty special stallion, siring a bevy of Grade 1 winners prior to being pensioned from stud duty in 2020.

Tiznow’s first crop of foals was arguably his best, producing champion 2-year-old filly Folklore and Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Armed. But subsequent crops produced a steady stream of top-class runners on dirt, turf, and synthetic, including the long-winded Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Da’ Tara, the early-maturing Hopeful (G1) winners Strong Mandate and Sporting Chance, and the slow-developing Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Tourist.

About the only thing missing from Tiznow’s record is a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, but perhaps Midnight Bourbon can remedy this situation. Already the bay colt has made his sire proud with admirable heroics on the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby, including a victory in the Lecomte (G3) and a runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. Maybe, just maybe, Midnight Bourbon can succeed where seven previous Tiznows faltered and prevail at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Certainly Midnight Bourbon has the pedigree to handle the task. Historically, the one knock on Tiznow’s progeny—at least as far as the spring classics are concerned—is their tendency to reach peak form after the Kentucky Derby has been run. A perfect example is Tiznow’s son Mr. Hot Stuff, who won a Grade 1 steeplechase at the age of 11… eight years after finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

This tendency isn’t surprising since Tiznow himself didn’t find his best stride until the second half of his 3-year-old season. In fact, he didn’t even debut until two weeks before the Derby. With a few exceptions, Tiznow’s best runners have followed suit.

But this is where the bottom half of Midnight Bourbon’s pedigree can come to the rescue. His dam, the unraced Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon, has been nothing less than a 100% success as a broodmare. Her first four foals to race have all won graded stakes, including the early-maturing Iroquois (G3) winner Cocked and Loaded and Haskell (G1) winner Girvin. The latter came to hand early enough to win the Louisiana Derby (G2) and compete in the Kentucky Derby.

As a result, Midnight Bourbon is Catch the Moon’s third foal to achieve graded stakes success prior to the spring of his 3-year-old season, and these early-maturing bloodlines have the potential to balance the long-term durability offered by Tiznow. It’s also worth noting Malibu Moon is the sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, adding another dose of ideal classic genetics to Midnight Bourbon’s pedigree.

Only time will tell if Midnight Bourbon’s bloodlines have mixed and matched in the precise combination necessary for success under the Twin Spires. But the potential definitely exists, and it would be fitting to see Midnight Bourbon win the roses during Tiznow’s first year living the life of a pensioner at WinStar Farm.