Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Call Me Midnight

January 24th, 2022

Call Me Midnight burst onto the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a late-surging victory in the 1 1/16-mile Lecomte S. (G3) at Fair Grounds. But can he maintain his finishing speed over the Kentucky Derby’s testing 1 1/4-mile journey?

That’s a tough question. At first glance, Call Me Midnight’s pedigree is all about speed. His sire, Midnight Lute, won back-to-back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and was voted champion male sprinter at the 2007 Eclipse Awards. Meanwhile, Call Me Midnight’s dam—the unraced mare Overseen—is a daughter of First Defence, whose signature victory came in the Forego H. (G1) sprinting seven furlongs.

Call Me Midnight’s half-siblings have also proven best as sprinters, with Woodbine Cares S. runner-up Bayerly Seen (by Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern) and claimer Under the Covers (a son of Australia's 6-furlong Golden Slipper (G1) winner Vancouver) showing their strongest form dashing abbreviated distances on turf and synthetic.

Suffice to say, that’s a lot of speed in one pedigree. The good news is, there’s also a dose or two of stamina in Call Me Midnight’s genetics.

Call Me Midnight Pedigree

Quiet American (1986)
Real Quiet (1995)
Really Blue (1983)
Midnight Lute (2003)
Dehere (1991)
Candytuft (1996)
Bolt from the Blue (1980)
Call Me Midnight
Unbridled's Song (1993)
First Defence (2004)
Honest Lady (1996)
Overseen (2011)
Danzig (1977)
Jibe (1995)
Slightly Dangerous (1979)

Consider Midnight Lute. Breathing issues limited his ability to race beyond sprint distances, so it’s possible he was more than a sprinter on the inside. Midnight Lute’s own pedigree wasn’t overly geared toward sprints; his sire, 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness S. (G1) winner Real Quiet, came within a nose of sweeping the Triple Crown.

Furthermore, Midnight Lute’s stud record has shown versatility. While he’s sired quality sprinters, such as Malibu S. (G1) hero Shakin It Up, his best foals have generally handled at least one mile. Chief among them is Midnight Bisou, a champion mare and five-time Grade 1 winner over distances up to 1 1/8 miles. Another noteworthy name is Midnight Aria, who nabbed the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate S. in Canada.

First Defence has exhibited a similar resume at stud. His best foal, Close Hatches, boasts a resume similar to that of Midnight Bisou—a championship title and five Grade 1 wins running up to 1 1/8 miles. Close Hatches has further achieved success as a broodmare, foaling Kentucky Derby third-place finisher and Belmont S. (G1) runner-up Tacitus.

Further back, Overseen's second dam is the Roberto mare Slightly Dangerous, who stayed 1 1/2 miles on turf to finish second in the Epsom Oaks (G1). Her progeny includes Commander in Chief, winner of the Epsom Derby (G1) and Irish Derby (G1), both at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

These doses of stamina help explain why Call Me Midnight has proven capable of winning over 1 1/16 miles. But Tacitus was a son of stamina influence Tapit, and genuine Triple Crown types have otherwise been rare among the descendants of Midnight Lute and First Defence. Combine their bloodlines, and it’s fair to wonder if miles and short routes might be more suitable for Call Me Midnight than classic distances.