The 6-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile , a grade 1 winner on turf for breeder A Venneri Racing and Little Red Feather Racing, earned his second straight wet-track graded victory with flashy frontrunning fractions and a double-take-worthy finishing time in the 1 1/16-mile test.
Midnight Storm broke well from the outside post in the field of four to take the lead under jockey Rafael Bejarano, but was pressured in the backstretch by Dalmore. After a relatively slow first quarter of :23.02, Midnight Storm picked up the pace and covered a half-mile in :45.59 and hit six furlongs in 1:08.93, with Dalmore still looming.
Dalmore tried to keep up in the stretch, but Midnight Storm continued to dig in. Accelerate passed Dalmore late for second, but only got within 1 1/4 lengths of Midnight Storm, who finished off the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.65. Prospect Park completed the order, finishing fourth, nine lengths behind Dalmore.
"The track has been playing fast since earlier today," Bejarano said. "I knew I had to put my horse on the lead. I needed a good start and when I put him on the lead, I felt the pressure right away. Dalmore was right next to me, chasing me the whole way.
"I kept him on the lead, but I tried to give him a breather at the half-mile pole. At the three-eighths, I knew he would keep running. He loves to be on the lead and he always gives me (more)."
The sloppy San Pasqual followed his first main-track graded win in the Native Diver (G3) Nov. 27 over a wet Del Mar surface.
"I thought he would love the surface," said winning trainer Phil D'Amato. "They were going fast. I saw (:45) and 1:08 and change, but he dug in there gamely and held them off today."
The complexion of the race changed overnight, when trainer Bob Baffert decided to scratch Arrogate because of the wet surface. That turned Midnight Storm from challenger to commanding 3-5 favorite and he did not disappoint.
"Obviously, Arrogate scratching improved our chances of winning today," D'Amato said. "In my eyes, that horse is the Horse of the Year. At the same time, there's a bit of you that wants to test your horse against the best and see where you stand, but I'm very happy with my horse's performance."
Accelerate contributed to a quality day for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, who also teamed up for victories with Infobedad and Squared Squared earlier in the card. After his win in the Los Alamitos Derby (G2) in September, the Lookin At Lucky colt came in third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
"He's going to be a super horse," said Accelerate's jockey, Tyler Baze. "I really mean that. I think John is going to try blinkers next time and we'll try to get him into the race a little sooner. He's going to be a special horse."
The San Pasqual was the 10th win overall for Midnight Storm and his seventh graded victory from 21 starts. Bred in Kentucky, out of the Bertrando mare My Tina, he now has more than $1.4 million in earnings.