06/19/2016 6:04PM

Ancient Secret steps up in class, distance to win Wild Applause

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Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Ancient Secret, under Irad Ortiz Jr., outfinishes Thundering Sky in the Wild Applause.

Ancient Secret successfully stepped up in class and distance Sunday at Belmont Park, running down longshot Thundering Sky in the final strides to win the $100,000 Wild Applause Stakes by a head.

Thundering Sky, who took the lead in midstretch under Gabe Saez, finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over Welcoming. It was a neck back to Ava’s Kitten, the 2-1 favorite, in fourth. Chad Brown trained the winner and the fourth-place finisher as he won his eighth stakes of the meet.

Ancient Secret, a daughter of Kantharos owned by Alpha Delta Stables, was making her stakes debut and her first start against open company after winning her first two starts versus New York-breds.

In the days leading up to the race, Brown said he felt Ancient Secret had a big chance and the bettors agreed, sending her off the 3-1 second choice.

Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Ancient Secret settled into fourth position, about 2 1/2 lengths off the pace established by Summer Reading, who set fractions of 23.21 seconds for the quarter-mile and 47.08 for the half, hounded by her stablemate, Saharan.

Ortiz sat patient and even lost one position entering the far turn before swinging four wide in the stretch. Thundering Sky took over from Summer Reading in midstretch but Ancient Secret kept coming and got up just in time.

Ancient Secret covered the mile in 1:33.92 and returned $8.30.

“We've had high hopes for her all along, so it's nice to see her step up in open company in her third race,” said Cherie DeVaux, assistant to Brown. “She really ran to the way she's been presenting herself. Being a New York-bred and having her for the whole summer is exciting."

DeVaux said that Javier Castellano, told her his mount, Ava’s Kitten, “didn't settle as well as he liked."