(Got Stormy / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the KY Downs Media Team / Jennie Rees:
Gary Barber’s 5-year-old mare Got Stormy, one of America’s premier turf milers of either sex, will try something at Kentucky Downs for the first time in a career that to date has spanned 23 starts, eight victories and $1.6 million in earnings.
Trainer Mark Casse said that Got Stormy, seeking her first in in 2020, will run in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint on Sept. 12 at 6 1/2 furlongs. It will be the first time she has sprinted. In fact, the only time Got Stormy has raced at shorter than a mile was her debut as 2-year-old in a 7 1/2-furlong race, which at Gulfstream Park is staged around two turns.
“I’ve been wanting to sprint her for a long time,” Casse said recently at Churchill Downs. “So she’s going to run in the older mare turf sprint. Six and a half down there equates to about seven-eighths of a mile, which I think will be perfect for her.”
The Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint is one of five stakes, four of them enjoying Grade 3 status, on Saturday’s Calumet Farm Day card. The others are the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (featuring 2019 winner Zulu Alpha and 2018 winner Arklow), $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint (with last year’s winner Totally Boss again looking for a free roll in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with the race being part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series) and the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Mile filling out the graded stakes. The $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint is the fifth stakes.
The six-date all-grass meet opens Monday and continues on Sept. 9, 10, 12, 13 and 16, offering some of the richest purses in the world for racehorses. First post Monday is 12:10 p.m. Central.
Last year Got Stormy defeated males in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave at a mile on turf. That race was her first of what now is five Grade 1 races against the boys. She was second the other four times: In the Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf won by fellow filly Uni, Canada’s Woodbine Mile, Santa Anita’s Kilroe Mile and this year’s Fourstardave in her most recent start.
Asked if she might run back again in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Casse said, referencing the Nov. 7 race at Keeneland, “She has a tough time getting a mile at Keeneland. We always know we get a little rain in the fall and there will be some give to it. She doesn’t mind softer turf. It just limits her distance ability. I’m not ruling it out, but she may go in the (Breeders’ Cup) Turf Sprint if she runs well.”
Got Stormy came along for Casse not long after the retirement of his two-time female turf champion Tepin, winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile and second in 2016.
If not the queen, “she’s pretty good,” Casse said of Got Stormy in the understated way of the racetrack. “Tepin didn’t need things. She always came with her A game, where Got Stormy needs things to go her way, or to not go against her. The one thing she hasn’t been able to get this year – – a lot of people said this year she’s not as good; I don’t think that’s true at all — she has yet to catch a real hard turf course. Even her last race when she ran second in the Fourstardave, you could see it throwing up. It had some give to it. That’s what’s hurt her this year. It wouldn’t be as important if there’s a little give to the ground being the race is shorter, I don’t think it will effect her.”
Casse also plans to run Peace Achieved, winner of the mile 2-year-old stakes at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland’s Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon last year, and the stakes-placed Natural Power in Thursday’s $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby. He said the stakes-winning Lucky Polly will run in the $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks the same day.
FINITE BACK ON GRASS, TUNED UP FOR MUSIC CITY STAKES
Finite, an impressive 4 1/2-length maiden winner at Kentucky Downs last year, returns to the grass for the first time since then in the inaugural running of the $400,000 Music City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs.
The Music City is one of three stakes for females headlining next Sunday’s card, the others being in the new $400,000 Untapable Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and the $500,000 TVG Stakes (formerly the Ramsey Farm and the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon) for fillies and mares at 1 5/16 miles. The Music City and Untapable filled the void for 2- and 3-year-old filly sprinters in Kentucky Downs’ racing program.
Finite looked like one of the leading contenders for the Kentucky Oaks when she followed up on her Kentucky Downs win with four straight victories in stakes on dirt, including Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Golden Rod and the Fair Grounds’ Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra. She was sidelined with an ankle injury after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, and comes into the Music City off almost a six-month layoff.
“She’s training really nicely,” said Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. “I had her up at Saratoga working on the grass, and she’s at Kentucky Downs now.”
Finite’s majority owner is breeder Ron Winchell, who also is co-owner of Kentucky Downs. But Asmussen says that tie has nothing to do with running the filly at Kentucky Downs. He said he’s putting her back on grass “because it’s $400,000 on a course and at a distance over which she is undefeated. She’s just a good filly.
“… Ron has never said anything ever (on where to run). I like to run for where the money is. That kind of covered it: $2 million a day, I want to participate.”
The Winchell-owned Mad Maddie, who has been second four times in four starts on turf and dirt, will go in the Untapable, Asmussen said. The Untapable Stakes is named for the filly Winchell owned and bred and Asmussen trained who won the 2014 Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff to be voted 3-year-old filly champion.
Asmussen also is running 2019 winner Snapper Sinclair back in Monday’s Tourist Mile and Country Final in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. Country Final won his first career start on turf at Churchill Downs and was second in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor on dirt. He easily won Monmouth Park’s Tyro Stakes that was taken off the turf.
“It’s a very good spot,” Asmussen said. “The horse is coming off winning the Tyro very impressively. He has won on the turf already. It’s a $500,000 race for a very fast horse.”
COX ROLLS INTO KY DOWNS OFF HUGE DERBY WEEKEND
Trainer Brad Cox hopes a huge weekend at Churchill Downs spills over to Kentucky Downs. Cox on Friday won his second Kentucky Oaks with Shedaresthedevil and the Grade 1 LaTroienne with his 2018 Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Monomoy Girl, while also finishing second in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes with Owendale. On Saturday he won the Grade 2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile with Beau Recall and was second in the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Classic with Factor This, who finished fourth in last year’s Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
Cox has five horses entered for WinStar Farm Day on Kentucky Downs’ Labor Day opener. That includes Ellis Park maiden winner Beautiful Star and seven-length Indiana Grand debut winner Cecile’s Chapter in the $500,000 Juvenile Fillies at a mile.
Cox also will have Donegal Racing’s 2018 winner Arklow in the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup this Saturday. Arklow finished second in that 1 1/2-mile stakes last year behind Zulu Alpha.
In his last start, Arklow finished fourth as the favorite in Monmouth Park’s Grade 1 United Nations on July 18, only six days after coming in sixth in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Elkhorn.
The 6-year-old Arklow worked a half-mile on the main track Sunday at Churchill Downs in 48 4/5 seconds. Cox has been working the horse in blinkers, which he’ll wear in a race for the first time after 28 career starts.
“He worked really well on the dirt,” Cox said. “He’s doing really well. I think he’s coming into this race every bit as well as he did the last two years leading up to Kentucky Downs. We marched on with him after the Monmouth race, and he’s responded well. He’s taken to the training. I’m excited about him. I really am.”