HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Lorne Richards had high hopes when he claimed the graded stakes-placed Stormy Rush for $62,500 at Woodbine in September 2012, and the son of Stormy Atlantic hardly dampened his new trainer’s optimism when he turned in a respectable fifth-place finish next time out in the Grade 1 Nearctic.
Unfortunately, Stormy Rush wouldn’t make another start for more than a year when chronic physical issues surfaced.
“I think he probably had a bit of a nagging problem when I claimed him. He wasn’t terrible, but I was willing to give him time to get him right,” Richards said. “He was sort of in training off and on the whole time. Then I got to the point where I gelded him last spring. By the time I got him where I wanted him it was November.”
The 6-year-old rounded into winning form in his fourth race back from the layoff, scoring a 1 ½-length victory in a March 20 optional claiming allowance race at five furlongs over the Gulfstream Park turf course.
“It was one of his better races. The horse had a long time off and he’s just starting to come back now,” Richards said. “Hopefully, he peaks on Saturday. We’ll see what happens. We’ll hope for the best.”
Stormy Rush is scheduled to clash with nine rivals at Gulfstream Park in Saturday’s $75,000 Lincoln Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
“Hopefully, he’ll get a decent trip,” Richards said. “Everything fell into place for him last time, but that’s what needs to happen to win, right?”
Stormy Rush didn’t get a perfect trip for his previous start in the $100,000 Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs on March 1. He was subjected to a long delay in transportation on his way to Tampa Bay and arrived at the track only 10 minutes before he would have been scratched. After becoming involved in an early speed duel, he faded to fifth.
“I’m just going to throw that race out,” said Richards, who has named the red-hot Gabriel Saez to ride his gelding Saturday.
Stormy Rush had previously finished second to Bold Thunder in his second start off the layoff in a Jan. 2 turf allowance at Gulfstream. He is set to clash again with Bold Thunder in the Lincoln.
After defeating Stormy Rush on Jan. 2, Bold Thunder set the pace after an awkward start and faded to ninth in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on Feb. 1. The Patricia Farro-trained 4-year-old came back to win the $75,000 Silks Run at five furlongs on the Gulfstream turf. Paco Lopez has the return mount.
Trainer Antonio Sano is looking forward to the return to the five-furlong distance for Bon Accord, who set the pace after a troubled start before faltering to eighth in the mile $100,000 Dania Beach (G3) at Gulfstream on Dec. 21.
“On Saturday, going five furlongs on turf, he’s going to be tough to beat. He’s already a winner at five furlongs on turf,” said Sano, whose 3-year-old ridgling captured the Calder Dash in his stakes debut last summer.
While the distance of the Lincoln may suit Bon Accord, the son of Showing Up has performed well at longer distances in major stakes. Following his Calder Dash score, he was shipped to Keeneland, where he finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon (G3), in which he raced four and five wide while closing from 10th on Polytrack. He followed up with a solid fourth-place finish in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), in which he was forced to race extremely wide around the first turn and along the backstretch.
“If you look at the chart, he was close to the pace, which was too fast – 22 (seconds) and 45,” Sano said. “It was a good race, to me.”
Sano, who named Santiago Gonzalez to ride Bon Accord in the Lincoln, always had high expectations for the son of Showing Up.
“He’s a big horse – a very nice horse. When he came from the farm, the horse did everything excellent,” Sano said. “The first time we ran him, he won and looked like a good horse.”
Bon Accord broke his maiden at first asking over a sloppy track last June, which may well become a factor in handicapping should the Lincoln be forced to the main track by weather conditions.
Also entered in the Lincoln: Texas Rustler, Can’t Stop the Kid, Full Moon’s Back, Jo Jo’s Comet, Trev, Hold On Smokey and Bluegrass Derby. Starship Sulu was a main-track-only entry.