The 5-year-old daughter of Lane's End's two-time leading sire Smart Strike stalked Wholelottashakin from a length back in second early in the 1 1/16-mile turf test and advanced closer to press on the backstretch and into the far turn. Erick Rodriguez urged her for more entering the stretch and she eagerly dug in to battle stride for stride before prevailing by a neck under pressure.
Wholelottashakin clocked moderate fractions of : 24.76, :50.07 through a half-mile, before the persistent Cloud Scapes reached her throat latch after six furlongs 1:13.88. Final Escrow, the 3-1 favorite, moved to challenge the leading pair approaching the home turn but flattened out and faded to fifth. Floral Romance, fourth at three-quarter mark, was urged for her best late in the lane to take third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Wholelottashakin in the 12-horse field.
"The pace figured to be on the slow side so I wanted to be near the leader and stay out of trouble," Rodriquez said. "The pace picked up going into the turn. The leader seemed to have lots left too, but I was sure we had enough run to get there late and she found just enough. She just keeps getting better."
Trained by Graham Motion, Cloud Scapes came into the race off a six-length romp Dec. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs and posted two seconds from three starts prior to that. She improved her career line to 3-3-0 from eight career starts with the Endeavour victory in a final time of 1:42.75 on firm turf. The victory boosted her earnings to $172,907.
Cloud Scapes paid $10, $6.40, and $5 and Wholelottashakin returned $7.20 and $5. The 5-10 exacta was worth $68.80. Floral Romance paid $4.80 to show.
Pin Oak general manager Clifford Barry agreed that Cloud Scapes is improving with age.
"(Pin Oak owner) Ms. (Josephine) Abercrombie is very patient with her horses and gives them plenty of time," he said. "This mare had a couple of niggling injuries and that kind of slowed her down as a 3-year-old, but we've always thought very highly of her. We wanted to come somewhere where the climate is good and try to keep her on the turf, and it worked out.
"This is a big deal for a filly as well-bred as her to win a grade III. We are very blessed and fortunate to get it done."
The winning Storm Cat mare Every Cloud is the dam of Cloud Scapes. Every Cloud is a half sister to grade I winner Missed the Storm and multiple graded stakes winner Green Means Go and is from the family of champion Chris Evert and All Rainbows, the dam of champion and 1988 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Winning Colors.
Motion has penciled in the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) going 1 1/8 miles March 8 as a possible next start for Cloud Scapes.