Phil D'Amato Should Exceed 2015 Success in 2016

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D.S. Williamson

January 26th, 2016

Phil D'Amato officially took over training duties for all of Mike Mitchell's horses in the spring of 2014. Since that time, he has solidified himself as one of the top trainers in Southern California. D'Amato spent 10 years as an assistant to the brilliant Mike Mitchell who passed away in April of 2015. He was more than ready to take over a stable that the excellent Mitchell had built to lasting success. But, there were still questions regarding D'Amato's ability to continue Mitchell's success. D'Amato followed a trainer in Mike Mitchell who had won 2,690 races including 120 stakes races. Mitchell's horses won 45 graded stakes races and over $67.2 million in earnings.

That's a lofty resume to follow. D'Amato proved right off the bat that he was up to the task. In 2014, D'Amato finished 54th in earnings with $2,620,587. Although that's impressive, what's really impressive is that D'Amato won 50 out of 251 starts. D'Amato won 20% of his races in 2014. His horses finished in the money 47% of the time. In 2015, D'Amato finished 23rd in earnings with $5,048,989. His horses won 85 races out of 399 starts. Phil D'Amato is on track to have a better 2016 than 2015. Already, D'Amato has won 7 races from 36 starts. He's banked a very good $372,040 and were not even out of January yet. Let's take a look at some of Phil D'Amato's top horses for 2016.
1. Street Fancy - This lightly raced three-year-old sired by the brilliant Street Sense and out of a Cat Thief broodmare, is 2 and 3 with a third from 3 lifetime races. She broke her maiden on Oct. 18, 2015 at Santa Anita. She finished third in the Desi Arnaz Stakes behind Lucky Folie and Treasuring on Nov. 11 before winning the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Los Alamitos on Dec. 12. She has the breeding to go as long as D'Amato wants her to go. The Starlet win shows that Street Fancy has comparable accelerating ability to her dad, Street Sense. Street Fancy is possible for the Grade 2 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita on Feb. 6.
2. Midnight Storm - Like American Pharoah, Midnight Storm is a son of Pioneerof the Nile. The Turf Division in SoCal seems wide open at this point. Midnight Storm might be the best of Phil D'Amato's turf runners. His win in the 1 1/16 mile Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap over Del Mar's turf was sensational. Midnight Storm relaxed behind the front-runner through a relatively soft half-mile before turning it on like a European champion around the turn and in the stretch. He should be able to run up to a 1 1/2 miles based on his breeding. That would be a good thing for D'Amato because he still has one of the best turf milers in the country in his barn in Obviously.
3. Obviously - Sure, Obviously got drilled in the Breeders Cup Mile at Keeneland last October 31. But that race was run over a grass course that he wasn't all too familiar with. Check out above to see how the now 8 year old gelding bounced back brilliantly in the Grade 2 San Gabriel to finish second to Flamboyant and ahead of Bal a Bali. The San Gabriel was run at 1 1/8 miles over the turf on Jan. 3. Obviously is probable for the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes over 1 mile over the turf on Feb. 13 at Santa Anita. He could be the favorite in that race. Since the Breeders Cup is at Santa Anita this year, don't be surprised if the 8 year old has enough in the tank to make the BC Mile this year.
4. Toowindytohaulrox - The now 5 year old horse with the crazy name might finally be coming into his own as a turf sprinter. Toowindytohaulrox finished third to No Silent and Melatonin in the Grade 3 Eddie Read at 6.5 furlongs over Del Mar's turf course. D'Amato tried Toowindytohaulrox at 1 1/16 miles over the Del Mar turf in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap where he finished third to Midnight Storm and Bal A Bali. D'Amato entered Toowindytohaulrox in the Grade 3 Daytona Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs over the turf down the Santa Anita hill. The Harlan's Holiday sired horse had to go widest of all but exploded in the stretch to get up for the win at terrific odds. Toowindytohaulrox paid $44.60 to win.
5. Fanticola - Last year, Fanticola ended up regressing in the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Handicap and the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes in September. In June of 2015, she won the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes. Fanticola is a 6 year old mare. A lot of times, 6 year old mares can actually improve from their 5 year old year. If Fanticola improves at all, she could turn into one of the better grass mares on the West Coast.


Street Fancy, Midnight Storm, Obviously, Toowindytohaulrox and Fanticola aren't the only horses that could pay dividends for Paul D'Amato and the owners that he trains for in 2016. D'Amato improved from 2014 to 2015. There's no doubt that he's going to improve from 2015 to 2016. Horseplayers should pay attentiont to Phil D'Amato in 2016.