Get Stormy dictated a soft pace and repelled his rivals in the stretch to capture the $576,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) (VIDEO) by three-quarters of a length on the turf at Churchill Downs May 7.
The Turf Classic, at 1 1/8 miles on a grass course rated firm, is the final race on the Churchill card prior to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Ramon Dominguez took advantage of a lack of speed among the field of 13 following the morning scratch of Little Mike, sending Get Stormy to the front soon after the start. The 5-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic never looked back while timed in a slow 1:50.81.
Smart Bid, who tracked the winner in second most of the way around for Edgar Prado, edged the rallying Doubles Partner by a neck for second.
Bred by Mary Sullivan and owned by Sullimar Stables, Get Stormy is trained by Tom Bush. The bay horse was overlooked at 7-1 in the evenly-matched field in spite of winning Keeneland's Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IT) in his last start April 15 with a similar front-running style.
In the process of winning consecutive grade I events, Get Stormy went over the $1 million mark in career earnings.
“If we were going to carve out a dream scenario, that was it," Bush said. "He’s been extra special and we got a little off the beaten track there for a couple of races and were kind of worried about him but we’re glad he didn’t lose his confidence. We think we’ve got him back where he was and I think he’s probably a better horse than he was when he was a 4-year-old. Hopefully there’s more ahead but these are two big races he’s won this spring."
Get Stormy established an easy pace, opening up by about two lengths early over Smart Bid and Rahystrada while clipping off an opening quarter mile in :24.88, the half in :50.34 and six furlongs in 1:14.75. Get Stormy inched away to a clear lead in upper stretch for Dominguez and led 2 1/2 lengths mid-stretch. He had plenty left in the final furlong as Smart Bid drew closer and Doubles Partner rallied for Julien Leparoux. Rahystrada finished fourth.
"There was not a lot of speed on paper, and I'm sure everyone knew how rapid my horse can be," said Dominguez, who rode Get Stormy for the first time. "I was very pleased that we were able to get away with slow fractions and my horse was very relaxed. Turning for home, he really sprinted from the three-eighths pole to the wire.”
Prince Will I Am, the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, was little factor while rallying belatedly from next-to-last to finish fifth. Battle of Hastings was pulled up sharply after going wrong heading into the first turn and was removed from the course by van.
This was the second win in three starts for Get Stormy on the Churchill turf. He captured the Commonwealth Turf (gr. IIIT) as a 3-year-old in Nov. 2009. In his only other start over the course, the bay ran last of 11 in last fall's TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
Get Stormy won a pair of grade II races at Saratoga last summer, the Fourstardave and Bernard Baruch handicaps, but was winless in four starts since until dominating the Maker's Mark by 2 3/4 lengths. His overall mark stands at 10-2-2 in 22 races with earnings of $1,128,093. The Turf Classic victory was worth $332,122.
“When he was a 3-year-old and came to the barn he looked like a piece of spaghetti," Bush said. "He was a leggy little narrow-chested, light little thing. This horse changed dramatically from the end of his 3-year-old year into his 4-year-old year. This horse really thickened up.”
Get Stormy, who is out of the Kiri's Clown mare Foolish Gal, paid $17, $9 and $6 and keyed a $115.40 exacta.
Smart Bid, winner of the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds in his most recent start March 26, returned $7.80 and $5.20.
Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) victor Doubles Partner was $4.80 to show.
Rahystrada and Prince Will I Am were followed by Moryba, Teaks North, Al Khali , Court Vision , Memorial Maniac, Stately Victor and Expansion.