Midnight Storm gets double form boost ahead of Del Mar Mile

August 21st, 2016

Already installed as the 4-5 favorite on the morning line for Sunday’s $200,000 Del Mar Mile (G2), Midnight Storm received not one, but two, high-profile form boosts on Saturday.

The horse he fended off during his front-running victory in the June 4 Shoemaker Mile (G1), Tourist, came back to land the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga. The Fourstardave ended up being a softer spot with Tepin and Ironicus both skipping it, but the fact remains that Tourist is a useful yardstick. Runner-up to future Cox Plate (G1) winner Adelaide in the 2014 Secretariat (G1), Tourist was beaten all of a neck when third in last October’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). He’d entered the Shoemaker in good form, having placed third in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) and finished fourth in a loaded Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1). So Tourist had been knocking on the proverbial door.

In the meantime, Midnight Storm wired the July 17 Eddie Read (G2) over nine furlongs at Del Mar. Again, the runner-up, Ashleyluvssugar, came back to take Saturday’s 1 3/8-mile Del Mar H. (G2). Of course, Ashleyluvssugar was stepping up to a more congenial trip, he got away with a pedestrian pace on such a quick surface, and just lasted from the flying Metaboss. Still, Ashleyluvssugar is a solid Grade 2 performer on this circuit, and Midnight Storm gave him four pounds and a beating in the Eddie Read.

The one potential gadfly to Midnight Storm in the Del Mar Mile is fellow pace factor Om, drawn just to his inside in post 1. Although a hit-or-miss type, Om is capable of winging it to great effect, as he did in last year’s Del Mar Derby (G2) as well as the Twilight Derby (G2). He also stalked and pounced in last December’s Mathis Brothers Mile (G2). Well below form when trailing in the March 12 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), Om resumes off the layoff with Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.

The other three runners will hope that Om and Midnight Storm compromise each other enough to give them an opening. Brazilian import Ohio is eligible to do better after a rank, wide-trip eighth in the Eddie Read, and shortening up to a mile ought to help his cause. The honest Ambitious Brew was beaten a half-length in the California Dreamin’ last out, and Little Curlin missed by a neck in third in the Wickerr at this course and distance in his latest.

Photo courtesy of Benoit.