Mike Tice, hired as the offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons earlier this week, could have an exciting few months ahead with some distractions off the field.
Tice is co-owner of the 3-year-old colt Midnight Hawk, who is two for two after taking the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes by 13/4 lengths over Kristo on Saturday at Santa Anita.
It was the first stakes for 3-year-olds during the winter-spring meeting and gained Midnight Hawk, a son of Midnight Lute, 10 points toward a possible start in the Kentucky Derby. Only four horses were entered after two scratches, and the way Midnight Hawk was able to harness his natural speed in the one-mile race made his trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, feel good.
"It's a good step," Baffert said. "But that's the way Midnight Lute is. He can throw you a freaky kind of horse. He's been showing that in the morning. You don't know until you do it. The way he worked the last few times, he was pretty impressive."
Another co-owner is Chicago Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville, causing Baffert to quip that with so many coach-owners, he's surprised they're not giving him orders what to do.
"Bob is being polite," said Tice, the former Minnesota Vikings head coach. "We're along for the ride."
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, looking for his own Kentucky Derby mount, was intrigued afterward.
"Today, more so than winning, I wanted to find out if he could go long," Smith said. "If you can't go long, there's no use worrying about anything else. He proved he could go long.
"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."
The next big 3-year-old race is the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 8, which should bring out the West Coast's top 3-year-old, unbeaten Shared Belief.
Blueskiesnrainbows won the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes under jockey Martin Pedroza.