The 2016 Pebbles Stakes ran out of Belmont Park this past weekend, and was meant to be nothing more than a return-to-form for Ancient Secret, who opened as the 3/1 favorite. Instead it was a wild race highlighted by curious decisions that led to two longshots finishing first and second. The outright favorite, Mo d’Amour finished last despite posting at 8/5.
Believe in Bertie took a somewhat commanding lead, stretching well out ahead of her rivals to set an early fraction of :22.45 at the quarter mile. Ancient Secret ran in fourth, holding a strong position behind Ultra Brat and Louisville First, who was an intriguing 38/1 longshot. As strange and unexpected as it seemed, Thundering Sky seemed to feed off of Ancient Secret’s pace staying with her competition the entire way.
Holding the lead in to the homestretch, Believe in Bertie continued at the half-mile with a time of :45.30 before hitting the pole at 1:08.91. She would battle to hold on to fourth, but gave way to the top-three at the 2016 Pebbles Stakes.
Thundering Sky made the move halfway down the homestretch, and Ancient Secret had no answer. Flying down the outside from way back was Mom’s On Strike, a 20/1 longshot who came out of nowhere to steal second. It was a shocking finish to a 2016 Pebbles Stakes that was supposed to at least resemble the board the oddsmakers had selected.
“I had a really good trip,” winning jockey Antonio Gallardo said. “I knew this filly was doing good. The trainer told me that she was doing really good, and after watching a replay of her last race, I knew she would run at the end and I could relax her a little bit. She gave me everything at the end, and she kicked on really good. The race set up perfectly for me.”
The 2016 Pebbles Stakes was the first win for Thundering Sky in his racing career. He had previously finished 3rd at the Ontario Colleen and 5th at the Lake George. So when I say that this was an upset, I mean it in every sense of the word. At 15/1, the three-year old filly delivered a whopping $33.80 with the victory. She herself has now earned just over $250K in career earnings.