Midnight Crossing takes early lead, keeps it in Robert Frankel

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Midnight Crossing proved impossible to catch in Saturday's Grade 3 Robert Frankel Stakes for fillies and mares on turf at Santa Anita, rewarding jockey Brice Blanc's decision to put the longshot on an early lead.

Allowed to set a slow pace, Midnight Crossing ($47.60) held off a late run from 8-5 favorite Elysea's World to win the first stakes of her career. Blanc rode with confidence and thought the 4-year-old Midnight Crossing had sufficient energy to hold off the closers in the $100,345 race for fillies and mares.

"When I called on her at the eighth pole, she had a lot left," Blanc said.

The longest shot in a field of six, Midnight Crossing won by a half-length, finishing 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.10.

Midnight Crossing set fractions of 24.27 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.94 for a half-mile. Blanc and trainer Richard Baltas spoke in the paddock about placing Midnight Crossing on the lead, but also the need to avoid fighting for an early advantage with another rival even though the race lacked a confirmed front-runner.

"Richie said, 'Don't get in a speed duel, but don't fight her,' " Blanc said. "She stayed relaxed nicely."

Elysea's World closed from fifth of six to just miss, and finished a neck in front of 9-1 Laseen. Jockey Javier Castellano guided Elysea's World to a wide position in the stretch and trailed by two lengths with a furlong remaining.

"I thought I would catch her at one point," Castellano said. "It was hard.

"I'm not disappointed with the filly. There was a slow pace."

Laseen raced in traffic in the stretch and was beaten less than a length.

"If she gets through, I think she's right there," trainer Jim Cassidy said.

Gliding By, also trained by Baltas, finished fourth, followed by Responsibleforlove and Penjade.

Midnight Crossing races for the partnerships of Abbondanza Racing and Medallion Racing. An Irish-bred by Dark Angel, Midnight Crossing was purchased for $240,000 at the Keeneland November Sale last month.

Previously trained by Roger Attfield at Woodbine, Midnight Crossing was third in the Grade 3 Ontario Matron Stakes in July.

Midnight Crossing began her career in Ireland, where she won a maiden race at Leopardstown in 2016. Midnight Crossing was exported to North America in the winter of 2016-17.