It was the day of the Champagne Stakes and Nick still couldn't believe the news that his father had sold 50% interest in Midnight Hour. At first Nick was so surprised, so hurt that he hardly talked to Brad for two days. He had sat wondering how could he sell half of our best two year old? How could he sell him when he knew how much Midnight means to me? Nick soon found out as Brad took him aside, explaining that back at the farm one of their stallions had had a bad case of colic. It was found he had twisted his intestines, and the surgery to repair them had cost over ten thousand dollars, not including the bill that would have to be paid for him to stay and recover at the equine hospital and all the check ups they would have to do.
Nick had forgiven his father, but was still anxious about there newly acquired partner. The new co-owners, his father told him were nice people. The father had actually bought Midnight for his daughter, Lori, who was supposed to be right around Nick's age. Even with his father's constant reassurance, he was still apprehensive. Right now, though, he had to put all his worries out of his mind and concentrate on the upcoming race. Looking up from the television screen, Nick broke himself out of his daze to find that the other jockeys in riding in the Champagne were leaving to go weigh in. Pushing his thoughts aside he got up and followed the rest of the jockeys to weigh in.
Nick gaze around the paddock, his eyes finally resting on where Midnight stood in the saddling stall. As he was before his last race he was as gorgeous as could be. Arching his neck, pawing at the ground, and prancing around like a proud peacock. Then his eyes settled on a well dressed man, tall and broad shouldered, with graying hair. At his side was a youthful looking girl, looking about 20 years old. She was shorter built, and had strawberry blond hair. She stood patting Midnights neck gently, not seeming the least bit afraid.
As Nick walked up he greeted the new co-owners politely and then mounted aboard Midnight, who felt as if he were a pack of dynamite. As he rode Midnight into the post parade a voice, clear as day, yet soft as a bell rang out, "Good luck!" Turning in the saddle he saw it was the owner's daughter who'd yelled out to him. Smiling back, and giving a quick nod, he turned onto the track, aiming for the staring gate.
As they rode to the gate, Nick went over each horse to watch out for and what he planned to do after the break. Midnight had drawn the three whole, with no real speed horses down to his inside, and nobody quick enough to run with him on the outside. The only real horses that Nick thought looked particularly good were Last Battle, who'd they'd raced in their maiden, and a long lean black colt, whose name was Dark Enforcer.
Reaching the gate, Nick let Midnight watch a couple others load before he nudged him forward. Without any hesitation Midnight went in. Not long after they loaded, Nick heard the call of "One back!" Then, the gates flashed open and the field was released for the Champagne Stakes!
Unlike his last start, Midnight broke on top and drove right for the lead, opening up five lengths in the blink of an eye. Nick glanced back under his arm, and was surprised at how far ahead they were, but when he tried to slow Midnight down the colt leaned against the pressure of the bit, fighting Nick.
"Ok, then, I won't fight you." Nick said quietly.
As they entered the far turn Midnight felt like he was out for a morning jog, not straining at all, and so far no other horses had come up to challenge. Into the stretch, still nobody had run at them yet. Finally curiosity got the better of him, and Nick stole a quick glance under his arm, and just about fell out of the saddle. Nick had found himself looking almost 15 lengths back to the nearest horse! As they cruised under the wire Nick heard the crowd erupt and the announcer yell "Ladies and Gentlemen, Midnight Hour, has just won the Champagne by 18 lengths, breaking the stakes record and he didn't even break a sweat! What kind of horse are we witnessing?"