Midnight Storm Steals Del Mar Derby

Midnight Storm, a lightly-raced three-year-old lightly-regarded in the wagering at 17-1, made his stakes debut in brilliant fashion Sunday as he ran away and hid from seven rivals under jockey Tyler Baze in the 70th running of the Grade II $300,000 Del Mar Derby.

Taking the lead early in the nine-furlong grass course test of sophomore runners, Midnight Storm relaxed under Baze to set moderate fractions until the far turn where he picked up the pace to cruise home by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:47.47. He stepped his last three furlongs in a brisk 35 seconds to secure the victory.

Longshots finished second, third and fourth, respectively, as Sawyer’s Hill (12-1) beat Talco (8-1) by a head for runner-up honors, with Sammy Mandeville (15-1) another 1 ¼ lengths back in fourth position.

Major disappointments were 8-5 favored Enterprising, the winner of the Oceanside Stakes and La Jolla Handicap who finished a non-threatening sixth under Mike Smith,  and 2-1 second choice Flamboyant and Joel Rosario who were eighth and last.

Midnight Storm, a son of Pioneerof the Nile owned by Alex Venneri and Marjorie Post Dye and trained by Phil D’Amato, came into the Del Mar Derby from a win in an optional claiming race August 10. The colt was in the barn of trainer Jorge Gutierrez to start the meeting, running eighth in a six-furlong race on the main track. After that July 23 outing, he was transferred to the stable of D’Amato.

Midnight Storm scored his third victory in seven starts and first money of $180,000 increased his earnings to $285,810. To his backers in the holiday weekend crowd he paid $36.60, $16.60 and $8.00. Sawyer’s Hill returned $12.40 and $8, while Talco paid $6.80 to show.

In the first of two supporting features on Sunday’s program, Zayat Stables’ Jojo Warrior, the even-money choice ridden by Martin Garcia, led from start to finish to win the $100,000 Torrey Pines for three-year-old fillies.

Jojo Warrior, from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, hustled to the front from the gate and was in command throughout, winning by three-quarters of  a length in 1:37.10 for the mile on the main track.

Tiz Kissable, 9-1 under Baze, closed strongly for second, a half-length ahead of Thegirlinthatsong, with More Complexity fourth in the field of six fillies. Delta Flower was scratched.

Jojo Warrior, a daughter of Pioneerof the Nile, was scoring her third win in six races and first money of $60,000 increased her money-won to $260,781. In her previous effort, June 21 at Santa Anita, the filly won the Grade II Summer Oaks.

As the favorite, she returned $4, $2.80 and $2.40. Tiz Kissable paid $5.80 and $3.60, while Thegirlinthatsong paid $3.40 to show.

Red hot Rafael Bejarano, closing in on his third straight Del Mar riding title, won the $94,750 Tranquility Stakes astride 7-10 favored Broken Sword, his fourth victory without a loss on the card. He came back in the next race, the eighth, to make it five-for-five on another favorite, 4-5 Diamond of Blue. The streak stopped when he was fourth on Sammy Mandeville in the Del Mar Derby.

Broken Sword, beaten a half-length when second to Iotapa in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes August 2, won eased up by 5 ¼ lengths in 1:36.18 for the mile on the main track. Second was Oscar Party, with Scooter Bird third.

Broken Sword, a daughter of Broken Vow owned by Mark  Dedomenico, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and George Todaro, paid $3.40 after her fourth success in 11 starts. First prize was $56,400.

After two losing mounts, Bejarano came back in the eleventh and last event to win his sixth race of the afternoon, aboard Halljoy at $8.60. With four winners Saturday and six Sunday, the 32-year-old Peruvian scored ten wins from only 16 mounts over the two-day period.

He is only the fifth jockey in Del Mar history to win six races in a day.

Bill Shoemaker did it in 1954, Laffit Pincay, Jr., twice, in 1976 and ’78, and Rudy Rosales, in 1969. The all-time record-holder is Victor Espinoza who won seven races in a single day in 2006.

Bejarano now has 40 victories this summer, eleven more than runner-up Kent Desormeaux who collaborated with trainer Bob Hess, Jr. to win for the 12th time this season, with Gold Medallion in the tenth race.

Source: Del Mar


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