Quenneville, Tice excited for Derby hopeful

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will be rooting for a Hawk to win on Saturday.

It just won’t be his Blackhawks.

Quenneville is part owner of Midnight Hawk, a three-year-old gray/roan colt, who will be racing in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Midnight Hawk is undefeated in three career races and has created some Kentucky Derby buzz.

Quenneville owns Midnight Hawk along with Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen, former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator and current Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice, Mike Pegram and John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings. Bob Baffert trains Midnight Hawk.

Quenneville didn’t have much time to talk horse racing during the Blackhawks’ recent six-game road trip, but he said he hoped to attend Saturday’s race. He was unable to be there when Midnight Hawk won the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 11.

“I’m excited,” Quenneville said earlier in the week. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Tice said he, Quenneville and Kitchen planned to attend Saturday’s race with their wives. Tice and Quenneville developed a friendship through a mutual friend, Pegram, who has owned previous Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners.

“We became friends when I went to the Bears,” Tice wrote in a text Saturday. “I sent Joel a note or text and told him we had a mutual friend, Mike Pegram. He came to some Bears games. I went to some Hawks games. And our friendship was on!!

“We both had a common interest -- horses. And horse racing people tend to attract each other. We both speak the lingo.”

Tice said he and Quenneville weren’t taking any credit for Midnight Hawk’s success.

“We are lucky we have a friend like Mike Pegram who asked us to be a part of this horse,” Tice said.

Midnight Hawk is one of eight horses in the 1 1/16 mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes. It will be race 8 on Saturday’s card with a 6 p.m. CST expected post.