|Edited Release — Got Stormy, fresh off her second triumph in three years in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave against males, is returning to Kentucky Downs for her next start on Sept. 11. But in a twist, Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse doesn’t plan to run the 6-year-old mare in The Mint Ladies Sprint that she won last year but back against the boys in the $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint.|
Both races are part of Kentucky Downs’ blockbluster Sept. 11 card featuring five graded stakes.
The six-furlong FanDuel Turf Sprint (G3), part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, offers $400,000 more in purse money than the $600,000 Ladies Sprint (G3) at 6 1/2 furlongs. The FanDuel winner also receives an automatic, fees-paid berth in the $1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 6 at Del Mar. But that doesn’t seem the overarching motivation for taking the tougher route.
“Obviously, she’s not afraid of colts,” Casse said Tuesday evening. “I really don’t think it matters if she runs 6 or 6 1/2 furlongs. We’ve never backed down from a challenge.” And, too, he said, “It is a much bigger purse.”
But more than the money, the owners and Casse welcome an opportunity to add to the legacy of Got Stormy, who already was the only female to win the Fourstardave, that coming for the first time in 2019. No filly or mare has won Kentucky Downs’ Turf Sprint, first run in 1998.
“Doing things that others haven’t done,” Casse said. “I think we’re wanting to prove that she is one of the elite turf mares of this century. Maybe with her Fourstardave, another (win against males) might get her into the Hall of Fame.”
Got Stormy has won 12 of 30 starts, with five seconds and three thirds, and $2,398,403 in purse earnings. In addition to her Fourstardave victories, Got Stormy has finished second four times against males in Grade 1 stakes in New York, California and Canada.
Casse said Got Stormy will target the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf, a race for which she already received a “Win And You’re In” spot from the Fourstardave victory. Got Stormy finished second in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.
The only reason Casse ran her in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last year at Keeneland was his belief that the mare isn’t as effective at a mile if the turf is not firm, which can often be the case in Kentucky in the fall. In preparation for shortening up, he ran Got Stormy in last year’s Ladies Sprint at Kentucky Downs, her first time racing less than 7 1/2 furlongs since her first start in 2017. She won by 3 1/4 lengths over soft turf.
Soft turf should not be a factor back in California. Got Stormy also is 1-for-1 at Del Mar, winning the Grade 1 Matriarch.
Spendthrift Farm paid $2.75 million for Got Stormy at Fasig-Tipton’s November sale and campaigns the mare with My Racehorse Stable, which sells micro-shares in stakes-quality horses to allow thousands of people to experience participating at the top end of the game. Gary Barber was her previous owner.
Got Stormy started her 2021 season with victory in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Honey Fox. However, she came into the Fourstardave off a pair of fifth-place finishes at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park. Casse and jockey Tyler Gaffalione were not among those assuming the mare finally lost a step to age.
“Just kind of the way she trained,” Casse said of his confidence. “Then Tyler made me feel really good, too, because he breezed her about two weeks out. He came back with the biggest smile and said, ‘She’s back.’ After I saddled her Saturday and she was walking around in the paddock, I looked at (Spendthrift general manager) Ned Toffey and said, ‘They better be tied on. Because she’s got her game face on today.’”
Off at 12-1 odds, Got Stormy beat Set Piece by 1 1/2 lengths.