08/05/2017 7:33PM

Thundering Sky brightens future with De La Rose triumph

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Timothy Whitaker
Thundering Sky may next race in the Noble Damsel on Sept. 23 at Belmont.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Thundering Sky appeared to have a bright future when she scored her first stakes victory in the Pebbles Stakes last October in her 3-year-old finale. However, the filly had a clouded start to 2017, finishing fifth in an optional claimer and then fourth in an allowance at Belmont, and sixth in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial last month at Parx Racing after leading early.

Thundering Sky got back in the winner's circle with a game neck victory in the $100,000 De La Rose Stakes on Saturday evening on the Saratoga turf, holding off favored On Leave for a win that has trainer George Weaver thinking bigger for the filly.

"The first race, she was just kind of rank and came up short," Weaver said of Thundering Sky, a Sky Mesa filly whom he trains for Matthew Schera.

"Next race, she was in a little trouble, and kinda difficult to manage again. We tried her at Parx and put her on the lead, but she wasn't crazy about that turf course. We're just trying to get back on track. She's been doing well the whole time, and today she put it together."

Proper Discretion, the second-longest shot on the board, ran an ambitious early race, leading Sky My Sky by 3 1/2 lengths through the opening half in 48.07 seconds. Thundering Sky and Rajiv Maragh, stalking the leader toward the inside, were fourth and waiting for running room, but only a length back, with a quarter-mile to go as the leader began to wilt.

Sky My Sky inherited the lead in upper stretch, but only briefly, as Thundering Sky emerged from traffic on her inside. Meanwhile, Grade 2 winner On Leave, who was coming off a win in the Perfect Sting at Belmont, was rolling in the five path. Thundering Sky fought her way past Sky My Sky for the lead, then grimly held off the favorite for the victory.

"Rajiv gave her a great ride. He timed it perfectly," Weaver said. "We've seen her press and be on the lead a few times, and we were adamant that we weren't gonna do that. We were able to sit in the pocket and kind of stalk and pounce."

Thundering Sky stopped the clock in 1:35.42 for the mile on the inner turf course, which was rated firm.

Behind Thundering Sky and On Leave, it was just a half-length to Bar of Gold, Elysea's World, and Sky My Sky, in order, with those placings decided by noses.

Weaver said the Grade 3 Noble Damsel, Sept. 23 on the Belmont turf, is a fall target for Thundering Sky. He was unsure if he would run the filly again before that.

"We never leave a horse in the barn if they are doing great," he said. "We'll see what happens."