Stormy Roman Takes Bonnie Heath Turf Cup

Calder-based Stormy Roman won the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup on Florida Million day for his owner/breeder Thomas Croley and trainer Tim Hills, defeating several invaders in the process.

The 4-year-old gelding was ridden by his regular rider Manuel Aguilar and covered the 1 1/8 mile-distance on the Calder sod in 1:49 4/5.

Aguilar kept Stormy Roman off the pace set by Music's Storm and asked him for his run approaching the three-eighths pole. Running on the outside coming down the stretch, Stormy Roman passed Music's Storm to win by two lengths.

"I just sat back and waited, then made my move at the three-eighths pole," Aguilar said. "I had a very clean trip."

Finishing third was 3-to-5 favorite Proud Man, who rallied from last after a half-mile to get the show spot by a neck over Sir Brian's Sword.

At odds of 10-to-1, Stormy Roman paid $23.80, $10.80 and $2.10. Music's Storm returned $5 and $2.10. Proud Man's show was $2.1.

Stormy Roman had been winless in five starts, with his last victory coming here in the Pete Axthelm Handicap last December going seven and a half furlongs on the turf. He was a troubled fourth in the Flying Pidgeon Handicap in his last start.

"He was so fresh last time that he wore himself out," Hills said. "We normally just walk him the day of the race, but decided to jog him this morning the wrong (opposite) way to take the edge off. We'll aim for the Sunshine Millions once again ... it's here at home (Gulfstream Park, Jan. 24), so no more 'red-eyes.'"

(Chart, Equibase)