By Laura Villasana
Sullimar Stable’s Get Stormy got started on his Grade 1-winning form right off the bat for 2012, cruising to a wire-to-wire victory in the 1 1/8-mile $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1).
Get Stormy‘s victory in the Turf Handicap capped the four stakes races on the February 11 card, with Thunder Moccasin taking the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2), Snow Top Mountain capturing the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3), and Hymn Book conquering the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1).
Making his 6-year-old debut, Get Stormy took the lead in his front-running fashion, setting fractions of 25.62, 51.07, 1:16.14, and 1:40.32 throughout the way as the 5-2 second choice over the turf course that was listed as good, finishing in a final time of 1:52.78. Hollinger finished second while favored Silver Medallion faded down the stretch and finished seventh.
“I was really pleased with how well he relaxed, especially off the layoff,” jockey Ramon Dominguez said. “He settled into a great stride and handled the ground beautifully. When I called on him he just kept going. He got a little tired late but it was still enough to get the job done.
“It was not a surprise,” trainer Tom Bush said. “He’s a special horse and got a special ride today. I was not concerned about the ground at all. He showed from early in his career he handles soft ground.”
Big Blue Kitten came up for third in his 2012 debut, while Yummy With Butter finished fourth. Yummy With Butter’s rider Paco Lopez made an objection against Get Stormy and Dominguez, alleging interference shortly after the start. The stewards ruled there was insufficient evidence and the results stood as the horses finished.
Kindergarten Kid and Yankee Fortune rounded out the field. Silver Medallion finishing last after stalking the pacesetter in second but dropping back going around the final turn and fading down the stretch to finish last.
“Even though he was in good position, I was kind of concerned because it looked like he was off the bridle and through those kind of fractions normally he’d be tugging along a little bit,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “The turf was a little too soft for him today. We’ll regroup and come up with a game plan.”
Al Khali, was cross entered in the main field of the Turf Handicap and the Donn, and 5-2 morning line favorite Sangaree, who was listed as a main track only entrant for the Turf Handicap and cross entered in the Donn, both scratched out of the Turf Handicap in favor of the Donn.
Boisterous, who was second choice on the morning line, and Smart Bid also scratched.
Get Stormy took home $180,000 of the $300,000 purse, increasing his lifetime earnings to $1,496,197. He now has a career race record of 11-4-3 in 27 starts.
Dominguez and Get Stormy teamed up for victory in 2011 when the horse won his second grade 1 race, coming in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs in May over firm turf, going wire-to-wire. They paired up two more times together following that race, finishing third in the Monmouth Stakes (G3) and second in Saratoga’s Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2).
Get Stormy’s first Grade 1 score came with a wire-to-wire victory in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland in April over a good turf course. Bush plans for a similar schedule this year with the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita as the year-end goal.
“His next start will be in the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland,” Bush confirmed.
Get Stormy ended his 2011 and 2010 campaigns with disappointing 12th place and 11th place finishes, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“The two Breeders’ Cup races are still a mystery, except that the course there is different in the fall than it is in the spring. There is less growth in the fall, but maybe we’ll get him on that firm turf at Santa Anita (in the Breeders’ Cup) later this year and he’ll like that firm ground out there,” Bush said.
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