08/21/2016 6:26PM

Midnight Storm takes Del Mar Mile, will rest until Breeders' Cup

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Benoit & Associates
Midnight Storm, 2 for 2 at Del Mar's meet this summer, will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Mile.

DEL MAR, Calif.-Midnight Storm will leave Del Mar with a perfect record at the summer meeting, two Grade 2 stakes wins on turf.

The same objective will be in place at the Santa Anita autumn meeting, with a more difficult assignment.

Midnight Storm won Sunday’s $200,000 Del Mar Mile as the 1-5 favorite. He won the $251,380 Eddie Read Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on July 17. The Del Mar Mile is likely to be Midnight Storm’s final start before the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, one of the world’s toughest turf races.

“We’ll give him a break and go for the Breeders’ Cup,” trainer Phil D’Amato said.

Midnight Storm ($2.60) led throughout the Del Mar Mile, holding off a late run from the multiple stakes winner Om to win by a half-length. Midnight Storm was timed in 1:33.92.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Midnight Storm led by a length through early fractions of 22.82 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.66 for a half-mile. Midnight Storm led by a half-length over Ambitious Brew with a quarter-mile remaining when that rival began to fade from contention. Om closed from third to pressure Midnight Storm in the final sixteenth.

“I thought he had the race under control,” D’Amato said. “It was tight at the end. Rafael said he rode him with confidence. Om came with a big run and made him run.”

Om, the winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby last summer and two other stakes last year, finished 4 1/4 lengths in front of Ohio, a 9-1 shot. The Del Mar Mile was Om’s first start since a sixth in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March. Trainer Dan Hendricks said the Del Mar Mile was the first of two prep races for Om in advance of an intended start in the BC Mile. Om may run $200,000 City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 8.

“I was really happy,” Hendricks said. “He stalked so nicely. He ran hard. He didn’t look like he was spent.”

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Ambitious Brew finished fourth, followed by Little Curlin in the field of five.

Midnight Storm has won three consecutive stakes. He won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita on June 4, earning a fees-paid berth for the BC Mile. Midnight Storm, a 5-year-old horse by Pioneerof the Nile, races for Alex Venneri and the Little Red Feather Racing partnership.

Midnight Storm has won 8 of 18 starts and earned $1,101,110. Midnight Storm is in the midst of his best season, having earned $539,000 this year.