Switched to the dirt after making his last five starts on the Calder turf course and also cutting back in distance for trainer William Kaplan, the Florida-bred gray Storm in May surged past California invader Idiot Proof and Rafael Bejarano in the late stages of the six-furlong event to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:10 1/5.
“This big guy is something, isn’t he? He liked the track and he loved the (fast) fractions," Kaplan said. "I wasn’t confident because this was a sprint, and he likes to go long, but I was hoping for a super fast pace. I was very confident when they turned for home. He was rolling. We can go either way with him. We’re aiming for the Hallandale Beach back on the grass, but this horse might end up on the Derby trail yet. The Fountain of Youth (gr. II) is not out of the question.”
A hotly contested pace between Complexity, Can This Be True, Idiot Proof and Texas Voyager produced fractions of :21 2/5 and :43 4/5 before Idiot Proof drew away briefly in the stretch. Storm in May was 10th after a half-mile but made up ground quickly after turning for home.
"I sat low and with patience, because I knew he would give me one big run in the end," Cruz said. "At the three-eighths pole I asked him, and he started moving. The horse was so far back, 10 to 12 lengths behind, but at the quarter pole when I put him inside and the other horses started to slow down, I knew I was going to get them.”
California-based Texas Voyager finished third, 1 ½ lengths behind the runner-up after pressing a hot pace on the extreme outside. Ididn'tdoanything, the 3-1 favorite in the field of 14, ran on for fourth, nearly six lengths behind the winner.
“The horse warmed up very well in the post parade," Gomez said of the favorite who was making his stakes debut after winning his first two starts. "He was leaning a bit in the gate, and was just lifeless when he came out, and never picked up the bit.”
The victory was the fourth in 10 starts for Storm in May, the son of Tiger Ridge--Laun Shaw (by Relaunch) bred by Flying H Enterprises and sold for $16,000 at Ocala in April. Storm in May earned $137,500 for owners Teresa and David Palmer to push his lifetime bankroll to $242,930.
The winner paid $55, $23 and $12.80, topping a $852.20 exacta with 11-1 shot Idiot Proof, who returned $15.40 and $10.20 in just his second lifetime start. Texas Voyager, ridden by Mike Smith, subbing for Martin Garcia, was $5.40 to show while also making just his second start.
Ididn'tdoanything was followed by James Wilfred, Another Kris, Leonardo, Complexity, Forbidden Bear, Felonious Monk, Can This Be True, Sunshine Ridge, Sarand Star and Actin Good. Hurry Up Austin and Nakayama Arashi scratched.