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What Is It With Chicago Blackhawks And Horse Racing?

Jan 10 2014, 1:45pm CST | by

What Is It With Chicago Blackhawks And Horse Racing?
Photo Credit: Forbes

Depending on the outcome of Saturday’s fifth race at Santa Anita Park, Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville might get a chance to dream about adding a Kentucky Derby trophy to his collection of Stanley Cup rings.

Midnight Hawk, a three-year-old colt, will make his second start tomorrow in the Grade 3 Sham. He’s owned by Quenneville in partnership with former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice, Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc., Mike Kitchen and Mike Pegram, who also bred the horse.

A son of the two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute, Midnight Hawk made his first start at Hollywood Park last month, demolishing five rivals by more than six lengths as the near-even-money favorite.

Tomorrow’s Sham Stakes is an official Kentucky Derby prep; the horses who finish first through fourth will earn points towards entrance to the race at Churchill Downs in early May.

Quenneville is a long-time racing fan, hitting Saratoga Racecourse in upstate New York nearly every summer, and he’s owned horses in the past as a partner in Team Power Play. In 2010, the year of his first Stanley Cup as coach of the Blackhawks, he presented the trophy to the winner of the Arlington Million at Arlington Park.

In 1992, Quenneville hit a Pick 6 at Saratoga worth, he said, more than $120,000; in 2009 at Hollywood Park, one-time Blackhawks player and current Blackhawks broadcaster Eddie Olczyk hit one for $500,000.

Olczyk, too, has been around horseracing for a long time, going to the track near his Chicago-area home as a teenager, and later breaking into broadcasting at the Meadowlands during the 1994 lockout.

Earlier that year, as a member of the Rangers’ Stanley Cup-winning team, Olczyk brought the Cup to Belmont Park to raise money for charity, allegedly feeding Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin from it.  (Olczyk steadfastly denies that the horse ate from the Cup.)

Current Blackhawk  Jonathan Toews has at least two Thoroughbreds named for him:  Three-year-old New York-bred Captain Toews broke his maiden first out at Belmont in September, then finished third and seventh in two subsequent races. He hasn’t raced since October.

Another three-year-old New York-bred, Captain Serious, has yet to race and is spending the winter in Florida, preparing for a debut

later this year.  Captain Serious is owned and bred by Barry Schwartz, the co-founder and former CEO of Calvin Klein, Inc and the former CEO of the New York Racing Association,

Schwartz, a long-time Rangers fan, also owns and bred B Shanny, a four-year-old gelding based at Belmont Park who’s earned more than $241,000 on the track.

When Midnight Hawk goes to the post tomorrow at 2:30 pm West Coast time, Quenneville will be on the other side of the continent, preparing for a 6:00 pm ET puck-drop in Montreal. His Blackhawks are currently tied for second in the Western Conference standings, at this point securely in position for playoffs that will begin in mid-April, just a couple of weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

As a two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach, Quenneville’s used to the intensity of competition in the spring. Should Midnight Hawk live up to the promise of his first race, Quenneville might be on more than a quest for the Cup this year; he might be on the road to the Derby.

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Source: Forbes

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