HRI Edited Release — Got Stormy set to pick up where she left off. Four years ago, trainer Mark Casse arrived for the Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes with his reigning Eclipse Award Champion Grass Female, Tepin, who had concluded her 2015 campaign with a convincing victory against males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.
Tepin won the Lambholm South Endeavour in smashing fashion and was even better four weeks later in the Grade II Hillsborough Stakes, setting the stakes and course record of 1:46.26 for the mile-and-an-eighth distance. Those Oldsmar victories were part of a winning streak that stretched to eight races and resulted in another Eclipse Champion Grass Female nod.
Saturday, Casse will send current stable star Got Stormy in quest of a Lambholm South Endeavour score against seven older fillies and mares. And while it might be a bit premature to draw comparisons to Tepin, the 5-year-old Got Stormy has compiled a mark that resulted in recognition as a 2019 Eclipse Award finalist and, arguably, the top turf female in training.
Tyler Gaffalione, a graduate of Sunlake High School in nearby Land O’ Lakes, will ride Got Stormy for Casse and owner Gary Barber. Got Stormy is 8-for-18 in her career with earnings of $1,430,578.
“I think the more she accomplishes, the more you can start thinking that way” (about drawing parallels to Tepin), Casse said.
“Tepin did a lot of great things in her career, and Got Stormy has done a lot of good things so far. Her performance last year in the (Grade I) Fourstardave at Saratoga, when she beat the colts and broke the course record (for a mile) by almost a full second (1:32 flat), that’s as good as it gets.”
Got Stormy finished second by a length-and-a-half to Uni in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, an outcome that probably cost her the Eclipse Award against her older foe. But she returned on Dec. 1 at Del Mar to win the Grade I Matriarch, an inkling that 2020 could be a special season.
“I think she’s going to come with a big performance Saturday,” Casse said. “Obviously, we’re going to try to win in the Breeders’ Cup with her.” Casse said that if all goes well, a return to California for the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on May 25 at Santa Anita could be on Got Stormy’s dance card.
Casse, who won last year’s Preakness with War of Will and the Belmont with Sir Winston, is also represented in the Lambholm South Endeavour by 5-year-old A. A. Azula’s Arch. Julien Leparoux, who was Tepin’s jockey, has that assignment.
Casse will also saddle 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding March to the Arch in the Tampa Bay Stakes and Two Sixty in the Suncoast. Gaffalione rides both horses. March to the Arch used a victory in last year’s Florida Cup Touch Vodka Turf Classic as a springboard to success in the Grade II Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs, and the Live Oak Plantation homebred was triumphant on Jan. 18 in the Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes at Gulfstream.
Gary Barber’s Two Sixty, who won the mile-and-a-sixteenth Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire My Dear Girl Stakes last September at Gulfstream, kicked off her 3-year-old campaign here on Jan. 18 with a triumph in the Gasparilla Stakes in a driving five-horse photo finish.