Pioneerof the Nile's brilliant and versatile Midnight Storm started off 2016 in style with a front-running victory in the $200,000 San Pasqual S. (G2) on New Year's Day at Santa Anita Park.
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The newly-turned 6-year-old has now won seven graded stakes in his career and has earned $1,461,110 for co-owners Little Red Feather Racing and Alex Venneri Racing, who hope to have a spot in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.
With persistent rains in the area, the Santa Anita surface was sloppy for the San Pasqual. That didnt' deter jockey Rafael Bejarano from sending Midnight Storm right to the lead in the compact field of four. Midnight Storm got the half-mile in :45.59 and six furlongs in super-quick 1:08.93, with Dalmore just a half-length back. Midnight Storm had plenty left for the stretch drive though, and pulled away steadily to win by 1 1/4-lengths over a late-closing Accelerate in 1:40.65 for the 1 1/16-miles.
“I thought he would love the surface,” said winning trainer Phil D’Amato. “They were going fast. I saw :45 and 1:08 and change, but he dug in there gamely and held them off today.”
Bejarano added, “The track has been playing fast since earlier today. I knew I had to put my horse on the lead. I needed a good start and when I put him on the lead, I felt the pressure right away. Dalmore was right next to me, chasing me the whole way. I kept him on the lead, but tried to give him a breather at the half-mile pole. At the three-eighths, I knew he would keep running. He loves to be on the lead and he always gives me something else.”
Pedigree Notes from the TDN:
Midnight Storm's dam My Tina, in foal to Bodemeister, RNA’d at $525,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. Her colt by Pioneerof the Nile, who was bought back for $300,000 as a weanling at the 2015 Keeneland November sale, sold for $925,000 to M.V. Magnier and Stonestreet Stables at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The 16-year-old mare, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and graded stakes placed Ask Shananie (Shananie), also has an unraced 3-year-old named Uncle Willie. Owner/breeder Alex Venneri, president of a California-based real estate mortgage business, and the late Marjorie Post Dye purchased My Tina for $82,000 as a yearling in 2002.