Relishing the soft condition of Woodbine's turf course, Stormy Lord led every step of the way to take the $172,802 Connaught Cup (Can-IIT) (VIDEO) for the first graded stakes victory of his career May 29.
With Jim McAleney aboard, 9-2 shot Stormy Lord repelled the challenge of odds-on choice Grand Adventure in upper stretch and cruised home by three lengths under steady handling, completing the seven furlongs in 1:25.72.
Ian Black trains the winning 4-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic --Lady Auchamore, by Meadowlake, for Ontario breeder Kinghaven Farms, which co-owns the chestnut gelding with Hat Trick Stable. The Connaught Cup was the first start of the year for Stormy Lord.
“This horse is just a tremendous competitor,” said McAleney. “He likes to win and he loves his job. He’s matured and he’s come into himself.”
Four scratches cut the field in half, with Grand Adventure the 2-5 favorite to repeat last year's victory in the Connaught Cup for trainer Mark Frostad.
Stormy Lord displayed a liking for some give in the ground last year and he jumped to the lead while breaking from the inside post for McAleney. He led Macias comfortably with Grand Adventure rating in third through an opening quarter-mile in :24.38 and the half in :48.16. Macias began to give way late on the turn as Grand Adventure, progressing on the outside, drew closer under rousing from jockey Patrick Husbands.
In upper stretch, Grand Adventure appeared poised to challenge for the lead, but Stormy Lord proved resolute. Under some left-handed urging, Stormy Lord held sway through the lane, leading by two lengths at mid-stretch and edging away in the final furlong as Grand Adventure gave in.
Hailstone, rallying belatedly for jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson from about nine lengths off the pace, got up for second by a half-length over 122-pound high weight Grand Adventure. Macias trailed.
Stormy Lord won the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup last summer on a good Woodbine turf last summer and followed that effort with second-place showing in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes over yielding ground. He is now three-for-three at seven furlongs on grass and has won five of nine starts on the Woodbine lawn with three seconds.
In his most recent start Nov. 13, Stormy Lord faded to sixth after setting the pace in the Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
Overall, Stormy Lord's career mark stands at 5-5-1 in 15 races with earnings of $636,858.
Sent off as the co-second choice, Stormy Lord carried 118 pounds and paid $11.90. The exacta (2-8) returned $58.20. There was no place or show wagering.
Artic Fern, Hollinger, Signature Red, and Woodbourne all scratched.