Pin Oak Stud's homebred Cloud Scapes carried on in the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 8 at Tampa Bay Downs, edging Waterway Run to earn her third straight victory at the Florida oval (VIDEO).
"She really has done well here, hasn't she?" Pin Oak owner Josephine Abercrombie said. "We're just delighted. We hoped a lot for her, but she's done better than we thought she might."
Winner of the Jan. 25 Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) and a December allowance event for trainer Graham Motion, the 5-year-old Smart Strike mare broke alertly from post 4 and angled over to take the lead heading into the first turn. She set the pace while Waterway Run tracked in second about 1 1/2 lengths behind an opening quarter in :25.68. But a new leader emerged up the backside as rank 70-1 shot Donna's Fly Girl barreled her way through on the rail to take over by a length.
Jockey Erick Rodriguez kept his cool aboard Cloud Scapes and the eventual winner got a little breather while three wide in second through three-quarters in 1:15.17, with Donna's Fly Girl briefly at the helm. Then they were cutting the corner as Waterway Run saved ground inside to emerge as the new leader turning for home.
Running a mile in 1:39.93, Cloud Scapes rallied with a powerful second wind in the battle down to the wire, making steady progress and prevailing by a nose in a photo finish. Final time was 1:51.56 on the turf graded firm.
"This is really a wonderful horse; she just likes to race," Rodriguez said. "Last time we had speed to run at and she came on when I asked. Today we were relaxed on the lead and then just off the lead and like before she just came away when I asked. We thought there would be more speed in the race but she handles whatever they do up front."
Sent off the third choice at odds of 7-2, Cloud Scapes returned $9.60, $4.60, and $3 while 3-1 second choice Waterway Run brought $4.40 and $2.80, with 6-5 favorite Riposte paying $2.10. E B Ryder, Gulsary, Enchanted Party, Thecushmaker, and Donna's Fly Girl completed the order of finish. Liberated was entered for the main track only.
Bred in Kentucky out of the Storm Cat mare Every Cloud, Cloud Scapes has won four times with three seconds from nine starts, for earnings of $262,907.
"We were lucky that filly slipped through on the inside so she had someone to follow, because when she is on the lead she starts looking around," Motion said. "She ran a big race. Erick rides her great—she's a little tricky to ride and he has her number now, I think. I really haven't thought beyond this race for her, but we'll probably step it up. I think this mare could really go on and have a big year."