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Belmont Fans Ask Midnight Taboo… WHO?

Unknown Midnight Taboo’s Bid For Belmont

Midnight Taboo set For Belmont Stakes 2013As the Belmont Stakes is nearly upon us, we eagerly await the line-up for this year’s Belmont. Names like Kentucky Derby winner, Orb and Preakness Champ, Oxbow are among the top names on the list. Then there is the Peter Pan winner, Freedom Child that is finally starting to get some well-deserved recognition. Even Unlimited Budget has a pretty strong following, bringing in the old debate of whether or not one of the girls can beat the boys. But what of Midnight Taboo? You might be asking yourself, where did this horse come from and why should we care? I wondered this myself and set out to find what we need to know about this horse and if he even belongs in this field. The answer is surprising.

Midnight Taboo Shows Belmont Pedigree

Midnight Taboo was sired by Langfuhr and his dam was Hot Red. On the Langfuhr side of the family tree is Danzig, who won all three of his races before a knee injury retired him early and Northern Dancer who won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in ’64, as well as running 3rd in the Belmont that year.  On his mother’s side, we have Thunder Gulch and Gulch. Gulch ran 3rd in the Belmont in ’87 after a 6th place finish in the Derby and a 4th place finish in the Preakness. Thunder Gulch won the ’95 Derby and Belmont, with a 3rd place finish in the Preakness that year. All things considered, Midnight Taboo’s pedigree says he deserves a shot at this year’s Belmont Stakes, but is his pedigree enough? Let’s take a closer look at his starts so far.

Only 3 Starts For Midnight Taboo

Midnight Taboo, Belmont HopefulFor the year, Midnight Taboo has had 3 starts, with 1 last year and 2 this year.  In his career, he has earned $76,400 with one win and 2 places. His first race was in August of last year at Saratoga where he placed 2nd behind Jocosity by 7 ½ lengths. Ironically, Oxbow was in this race as well, but dropped well behind after taking choppy strides and was pulled up finishing last.

Midnight Taboo’s next race saw him a victor at Aqueduct in April of this year when he broke maiden. This time he finished under a strong drive at a mile, beating Dyker Beach by 3 lengths under the command of John Velazquez. After a 9 month wait, Midnight Taboo had shown he was ready to do more.

His last race was at Belmont on May 8th, 4 days after much of the upcoming Belmont Stakes field had run in the Kentucky Derby. Set at 1 1/16 mile, Midnight Taboo ran 2nd behind Irsaal and although he only placed in this race, the trouble he had certainly cost him this one. Here’s what the equibase result chart said-

 

“MIDNIGHT TABOO rode the rail, was asked for some run about halfway around the turn, entered the stretch behind a wall of rivals, was taken in hand and altered course to the outside coming to the eighth pole, had a temporary passageway between another pair get shut down before it could be put to use, was taken outward a bit more in the vicinity of the sixteenth pole and yet one final time late, when no promising routes between rivals developed after the second try, made a good belatedly gain to procure the place.”

Whew! That’s a mouthful, but it only goes to show that Midnight Taboo and Velazquez had their work cut out for them and still made it in for second only 2 lengths behind Irsaal. Reading it is one thing, but take a look at the video here and see for yourself.

 

As you can see, Midnight Taboo is not afraid to work to get where he needs to. Even after circling the wall in front of him, this horse looked as if he could keep on going well past the 1 1/16 mile. You might have also noted that the track was muddy, a situation we may very well see in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Of course there are other horses in this race that like that situation, too (Orb for instance).

Midnight Taboo Another Pletcher Hail Mary For 2013 Belmont?

Todd Pletcher Preps 5 for 2013 BelmontIs Midnight Taboo a “hail mary” for trainer Todd Pletcher? So far he has entered Palace Malice, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Unlimited Budget and Midnight Taboo. The Belmont is looking at a field of 15 horses at this point and that would give Pletcher a third of the field. Many believe he is taking the same “scatter-shot” approach that he did in the Derby and that Midnight Taboo, the least noted of the group, is just another prayer thrown out onto the track. Personally, I don’t think so. I believe that Midnight Taboo wouldn’t even have been considered for the race if not for the great potential this horse has shown to date. I’m not saying as of yet that he is my top pick for the Belmont, but he is certainly worth a look. Taboo means “a custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.” Don’t be left in the dark on this one and not “associate” yourself with Midnight Taboo. Come Saturday at the Belmont, he might just be known to us all.

 

 

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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