Pioneerof the Nile's multiple graded stakes winner reached a new high on Saturday with his gutsy half-length score over Tourist in the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
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Midnight Storm is one of five graded stakes winners by Pioneerof the Nile, led of course by 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah.
Keen out of the gate, Midnight Storm cut fractions of :22.68 and :46 seconds flat with a one-length lead at the half-way point. Heart to Heart, the even-money favorite, was pressing the leader, but began to fade after six furlongs in 1:09.95.
Tourist took up the chase in the stretch, but Midnight Storm refused to relent, stopping the clock in 1:33.55.
“He had his ears up the whole time,” said and elated winning trainer Phil D'Amato. “If he had his ears pinned back and he looked like he was going full speed, I would have been concerned. But I thought (jockey Rafael Bejarano) saved a little bit (of ground) at the top of the lane. It's vindication, because I thought he should have won it last year. He was kind of up against it, but he's vindicated, and now he's a Grade I winner. Onward to the Breeders' Cup.”
Midnight Storm's six wins include victories in the Seabiscuit H. (G2) in 2015 and the Del Mar Derby (G2) the previous year. Saturday's payday pushed his earnings to $831,110 for co-owners A. Venneri Racing and Little Red Feather Racing.