ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Phil D’Amato’s first time saddling Storm the Hill went about as well as he could’ve hoped when she outran her new stablemate Ancient Secret late to win Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Wilshire Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking a bit slowly from post 7 under Rafael Bejarano, Storm the Hill saved ground in mid-pack early while Miss Julia Star shot to the front and posted fast first fractions of :22.82, :45.94, and 1:09.69. Tipped out three-wide exiting the far turn, Storm the Hill displayed a strong turn of foot and kicked away past several foes, then held off the 5-2 favorite Ancient Secret by 1 1/2 lengths at the wire in a final time of 1:33.77 for the mile-long turf event.
“My filly has speed, but I could see that about four horses were going early, so I decided to just save ground,” Bejarano said. “When we got to the 1/2-mile pole, I asked her to pick it up a little and we were able to follow the favorite around the turn. At the top of the stretch, we were able to get the first jump on her, and she gave me a big kick.”
Ancient Secret was able to get past Cordiality for second by a 1/2-length, the latter fading late after having spent much of the race chasing the early leader in second. A three-way photo for fourth went to Beau Recall by a head over Sassy Little Lila, with Sophie P a neck further back in sixth. Miss Julia Star weakened to cross in seventh, with Bella Luma and Shehastheritestuff completing the order of finish.
Storm the Hill’s win was her first career graded stakes score and improved her record to 20-4-1-6 with earnings of $250,485. The 4-year-old daughter of Get Stormy was purchased last November by owners Alastar Throughbred Company and Michael Valdes for $275,000 as a future broodmare prospect but was kept in training, first in Kentucky with Eddie Kenneally before shipping west to join D’Amato.
“She’s been training like a good horse,” said D’Amato. “She came from a great trainer, so all I had to do was maintain her. They were really going fast early and I thought my other filly, Ancient Secret, was in a good spot. But I think Storm the Hill, being a little further off of that fast pace, kinda helped her come on strong.”
Storm the Hill returned $21 to win, $9 to place, and $6.20 to show. Ancient Secret brought back $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show, while Cordiality paid $6.20 to show.