It was a week before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and the weather in central Kentucky was rainy and chilly. But trainer Tom Bush and his hopeful in the TVG Mile (gr. IT), Get Stormy, were happy to be in the Bluegrass.
Bush is delighted to be saddling his first Breeders’ Cup contender, and 5-year-old Get Stormy , a son of Stormy Atlantic , has taken to the Midwest like a pioneer since shipping in for the Oct. 8 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland, in which he ran a bang-up second to Gio Ponti .
“He’s flourished since he got here at the beginning of October,” Bush said of his stable star. "He breezed Oct. 26 and finished strong, and he was awfully sharp the next morning, so he looks as good as we can get him, and that gives us some confidence.”
Get Stormy races for his breeder, Mary Sullivan, who became active in owning Thoroughbreds when she stopped riding and foxhunting. From a five-mare broodmare band, Sullivan has co-bred millionaire and grade I winner Kiri's Clown, who is the broodmare sire of Get Stormy; Get Stormy’s dam, Foolish Gal; and now the multiple grade I-winning Get Stormy, who this season knocked off the Makers Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland and the Turf Classic (gr. IT) over the same Churchill Downs strip where the Breeders’ Cup will be contested.
“We’ve had pretty good luck with our horses,” said Sullivan. “The fact this is the third generation of our homebreds, that’s wonderful.”
The late Dr. Tom Roach of Parrish Hill Farm in Kentucky was a key advisor to Sullivan, helping her to select stallions to breed to. He was also instrumental in bringing Sullivan together with Bush, to whom he had sent horses through the years.
“He was one of the first people who gave me a horse to train,” noted Bush, 60. “I have a warm spot in my heart for Tom, for sure.”
Bush said that Get Stormy is a late-maturing horse who began his racing career as a narrow, leggy, and light 2-year-old. He broke his maiden at Aqueduct late in that season, and returned to the races at 3 a bit more stout of build.
“But when he came back at 4,” noted Bush, “he really had thickened and widened in the shoulders and got much heavier in the neck. He was a bigger, stronger horse, and I think he’s even bigger and stronger this year.”
Get Stormy is going for his second go-around in the Mile, having run a disappointing 11th a year ago while suffering from a throat problem.
“I thought I had it resolved, but I did not,” said Bush. “When he came back this year and ran poorly in Florida, we went ahead and did the surgery on him and put him on an aggressive throat spray program. We changed his equipment up and finally got to the bottom of it. Fortunately, he didn’t lose his confidence because of the class he has.”
Get Stormy has two wins, two seconds, and two thirds since the surgery, all in graded stakes. In the Shadwell, he had to outkick the speedy Sidney's Candy to get the lead into the stretch, and just failed to hold off Gio Ponti late. Garrett Gomez was impressed enough to ride him back in the Breeders’ Cup.
Bush, who has trained accomplished runners such as eight-time stakes winners Banrock and Gold and Roses, calls Get Stormy “the best I’ve had. He’s loaded with the goods, and that’s what you have to have to come here. A race like this, you know how deep it is, but if you feel strongly about how well your horse is doing, you have to have some confidence.”
Sullivan likes Get Stormy so much she sent Foolish Gal back to Stormy Atlantic and has a weanling full brother to Get Stormy named It’s Stormy.
Despite the connotation of inclement weather in his name, Get Stormy’s connections will be seeing blue skies if he runs to their hopes in the Mile.