Trainer Brett Calhoun said prior to the race that he felt this one-mile event for 3-year-old fillies was an ideal spot to see if Storm Mesa has turf ability. She impressed him with a work on the lawn at Prairie Meadows, where she won the Iowa Oaks (gr. III) in her previous start June 27.
He brought jockey Eddie Martin Jr. with him, and once again they teamed up to win, scoring at odds of 7-1 by 1 1/4 lengths over Tasha's Miracle. The final time was an impressive 1:33.54 on firm going, breaking the stakes record set by Katdogawn in 2003.
Storm Mesa broke on the lead while guided to the inside but Martin allowed her to drop back while saving ground as longshot Hopehopehope and Misty Ocean vied for the early lead through a sizzling opening quarter mile of :21.92. Misty Ocean took over from there, clicking off the half-mile in :45.21 and three quarters in 1:09.37 with Joel Rosario in the saddle.
Misty Ocean continued to lead the field approaching the eighth pole when she was tackled by Tasha's Miracle, who grabbed the advantage under Mike Smith heading for the wire. But Storm Mesa, who had dropped off the pace on the far turn, angled out mid-stretch for Martin and finished with a big kick to get the job done.
"I had an adventuresome trip," Martin said. "I probably sent her somewhere she shouldn't have been at the half mile. But she rallied and came on strong.
"My first time riding at Del Mar," he added. "I'm one for one. Got to love it."
Tasha's Miracle finished a head in front of Misty Ocean for second.
It took Storm Mesa five starts to break her maiden at Fair Grounds in March and she hasn't lost since. She has now won three consecutive stakes at three different tracks. Overall, her record stands at 5-2-1 in 10 tries with earnings of $329,510 for owner Richard L. Davis.
"I think she answered the grass question today," Calhoun said. "I got a little worried when she checked going down the backside. She was up in the race but she backed out of there real sharply and she started losing some ground. But they were going a pretty torrid pace, so finally it worked out all right."
Calhoun said Storm Mesa would likely race in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) on Aug. 16.
"There's a plane leaving here on July 30, so we'll make a decision by then on whether we'll take her back or leave her here," he said. "Off this race, I don't know why we wouldn't run in the Oaks."
Bred in Kentucky by M & N Mazzoni, she is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Narjis Flower and sold for $80,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Company April 2007 sale.
Sent off as the fifth choice, the winner paid $17.60, $9.20 and $6.60. Tasha's Miracle, also making her turf debut for John Sadler, returned $6.80 and $5.60 as part of a $2 exacta worth $93.20. Misty Ocean, winner of the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park last time out, was $5.20 to show as her three-race win streak ended.
"I had to use her to get position," Rosario said of Misty Ocean, who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. "And I was getting pressure from both sides. We did go faster than I wanted, but there wasn't much I could do. A good learning experience for her. Next time she'll be more settled."
Missit, the 5-2 favorite, finished fourth, followed by Grace Anatomy, Bel Air Sizzle, Sensational Love, Hopehopehope, Seattle Smooth and Mini Do.