His five-race winning streak snapped last month in Canada, Get Stormy looks to get back to his winning ways in the $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) on Saratoga's Mellon turf course Aug. 1.
Ten older horses were entered in the 1 1/16-mile event, as well as two others that will start only if the race is moved to the main track. The Fourstardave is scheduled as the seventh race on a program that also includes the $150,000 Ruffian Invitational Handicap (gr. I). It has a 4:21 EDT post.
Trained by Thomas Bush for Sullimar Stable, 4-year-old Get Stormy won both of his starts at Saratoga last season, including the Lure Stakes over soft going. The front-running son of Stormy Atlantic gave way grudgingly while finishing fourth as the favorite in the one-turn mile King Edward Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine June 27.
“He was in good form at the time, but in hindsight running him at Woodbine was not a good idea,” admitted Bush. “The grass was pretty long and pretty soft, and that may not be his best kind of surface.
“I think he certainly prefers two turns as it lets him better take advantage of his speed,” Bush added.
Get Stormy, who will be ridden from the inside post by Javier Castellano, was assigned top weight of 117 pounds. Eight of his nine of his turf rivals were weighted within two pounds in an evenly-matched affair.
During his five-race streak that began at Saratoga, Get Stormy picked up victories in the Bryan Station Stakes (gr. IIIT) over a yielding turf at Keeneland and the Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) on firm going at Churchill Downs. The bay colt has raced twice in 2010, winning the Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth on the front end by 3 1/2 lengths prior to the King Edward. Overall, Get Stormy has won six of 14 races and earned $345,961.
The 3-1 morning line favorite is Lazy F Ranch's Pinckney Hill, who was denied by just a head when second in the Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder in April. Stretched out to 1 ¼ miles in the Manhattan (gr. IT) in June, the Angel Penna trainee finished eighth after steadying in the stretch. Cornelio Velasquez will be reunited with the ridgling for the fist time since last fall.
Whatsthescript, a former West Coast standout now in the barn of Gary Contessa for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, was retired to stud late last year and was bred to 30 mares over the winter. In his lone race since returning to action, the 6-year-old Irish-bred closed well to finish third in the Battlefield Stakes at Monmouth, beaten by 1 1/2 lengths.
“He’s training well and has been a consummate professional,” said Contessa, who is the fourth person to have trained the 6-year-old. “He’s doing everything right and had a great workout last week (seven furlongs around dogs in 1:26 on the Oklahoma turf course July 23).”
The horse that won the Battlefield, Violon Sacre, is also in the Fourstardave field, Trained by Patrick Biancone, the 5-year-old son of Stravinsky has had two U.S. starts since transferring from France.
“I got him in February and I gave him time to acclimatize,” said Biancone. “He was a little short in his first race, but the second time he was completely ready.”
Biancone also entered grade II winner Nownownow, who has two thirds in three starts in 2010 for Fab Oak Stable but has not been since February 25.
“Nownownow likes it when there’s some give in the ground,” said Biancone. “He had a quarter crack, but he’s working well. He may need a race, but I expect him to run well.”
Julien Leparoux was named on both Violin Sacre and Nownownow, who are coupled in the wagering.
Grade III victor Wesley and multiple stakes winner Public Speaker, coming off a second in the one-mile Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs July 4, are also among the contenders.
Brother Nick and Convocation, both stakes-placed competitors from the James Jerkens barn, are the main track only entrants.
$150,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 4:21 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Get Stormy (KY), J Castellano, 117, T M Bush
2. Whatsthescript (IRE), G K Gomez, 116, G C Contessa
3. Zifzaf (KY), C Hill, 113, J J Toner
4. Cherokee Artist (KY), J Rose, 115, H G Motion
5. a-Nownownow (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, P L Biancone
6. Wesley (KY), E Coa, 116, M A Hennig
7. a-Violon Sacre (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, P L Biancone
8. Radical Sabbatical (KY), J R Velazquez, 114, B Tagg
9. Public Speaker (KY), R Albarado, 116, K G McPeek
10. Pinckney Hill (KY), C H Velasquez, 115, A J Penna Jr.
Main Track Only
11. Brother Nick (KY), No rider, 118, J A Jerkens
12. Convocation (KY), No rider, 118, J A Jerkens
a- coupled entry
Blinkers On: Nownownow