09/03/2014 6:35PM

Ankeny Hill eyes bigger game after Pirate's Bounty win

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Benoit & Associates
Ankeny Hill wins the Pirate's Bounty under Tyler Baze. He is being pointed for a graded stakes next.

DEL MAR, Calif. - A throat operation conducted earlier this year has Ankeny Hill breathing a lot easier – and helped put him in the winner’s circle of a stakes race at Del Mar.

Ankeny Hill won the first stakes of his career in Wednesday’s $97,900 Pirate’s Bounty Stakes over six furlongs. He will make his graded stakes debut at Santa Anita in the $100,000 Eddie D Stakes, a Grade 3 on the hillside turf course on Sept. 26, or the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, a Grade 1 over six furlongs on dirt on Oct. 4.

Trainer Mark Glatt thinks Ankeny Hill is among the best sprinters on the circuit.

“I think he’s right there,” Glatt said.

In the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes, Ankeny Hill stalked 3-5 favorite Seeking the Sherif through early fractions of 22.04 and 44.78 seconds, took the lead before the eighth pole and won by a half-length over a determined closer in Ain’t No Other, who was sent off at 11-1. Seeking the Sherif finished third, followed by No Silent and Bull Dozer.

Ankeny Hill was ridden by Tyler Baze and was timed in 1:09.41.

“It was a perfect trip,” Glatt said.

Owned by Rodney Orr, Ankeny Hill, a 4-year-old colt by Sharp Humor, has won 5 of 13 starts and earned $208,307. The Pirate’s Bounty was Ankeny Hill’s second consecutive win, preceded by an optional claimer over five furlongs here on Aug. 2.

Ankeny Hill has won two of three starts since returning to racing following a five-month layoff. After Ankeny Hill finished fifth in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in February, Glatt and Orr decided that Ankeny Hill needed a throat operation - tie-back surgery - to improve his breathing.

“We did it and it’s gone well,” he said. “Those things are 50-50.

“He’s getting a lot more air and he’s breathing a lot better.”

Glatt said he was encouraged Ankeny Hill beat Seeking the Sherif, who was third in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes behind Big Macher and Goldencents here on July 27.

“He beat a horse today that had an easy lead and was a couple of lengths behind the best sprinters we have here,” Glatt said.