Gormley leads all the way to take the FrontRunner

Gormley leads all the way to take the FrontRunner

Benoit Photo

Gormley Upsets FrontRunner Field

Gormley improves to two-for-two with grade I win.

Gormley  made his stakes debut a winning effort, scoring a three-length, front-running win in the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park

Video: FrontRunner S. (G1)

Trained by John Shirreffs for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Gormley broke well from the rail under Victor Espinoza and cruised through a quarter-mile in :23.72 and a half-mile in :47.18. The son of Malibu Moon  opened a big advantage in the far turn, extending that advantage to 3 1/2 lengths in the stretch, and was not seriously threatened by 1-5 favorite and last-out Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) winner Klimt, who rallied for second. Straight Fire came in another 4 1/2 lengths back in third.

Gormley improved to two-for-two, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.57. He returned $23.60 to win, $5 to place, and $3 to show while Klimt paid $2.20 and $2.10. Straight Fire paid $2.20 to show.

Gormley won his maiden special weight debut going 6 1/2 furlongs Sept. 4 at Del Mar and easily made the jump to grade I winner.

"You know, it's always a surprise as you train in the morning and you hope they can improve in the afternoon. You don't ever know until the afternoon," Shirreffs said. :After you've won your first race you settle in and you just move on. He's a young horse, he's learning. He needs to focus a little bit and once he gets focused he's got it handled.

"He looks like a million bucks, he's a beautiful horse and he's doing really well. I like that when he got into that big gear he has, he didn't get too excited for a young horse and today he was all business."

Espinoza, who secured his fourth FrontRunner victory, said he didn't necessarily plan to go to the lead with Gormley.

"I was really surprised. Like anything you go into it with a plan, but when that gate opens, everything can change," Espinoza said. "I originally wanted to take back a little bit and let him run in the end ... I was on the rail and didn't want to take him back then, so I let him run. This horse can run well wherever he runs. He's a very talented young horse and he's going to improve for the future." 

Gormley punches his ticket to the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) as the FrontRunner is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race. The winners of the 2014 and 2015 FrontRunner, American Pharoah  (under Espinoza) and Nyquist , went on to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Bob Baffert, trainer of Klimt, said the son of Quality Road made a nice rally but was probably too far back early.

"That gave him a lot to do. He just didn't fire away from the gate, didn't break like we were hoping he would. But he ran a good race; he closed," Baffert said. "We know he can handle the distance. This will sharpen him for the next one. I think he got a lot out of it today. He got a lot of dirt in his face and handled it pretty well. The quality is there; it just needs to come out of him."

Longshot Secret House was declared a non-starter because the gates opened while jockey Santiago Gonzalez had stood up to get off the horse and get resituated. Secret House broke from the gate without a rider. All money wagered on Secret House was refunded.

"The horse moved forward and crowded the front portion of the starting gate and then Gonzalez stepped off," said stewart Grant Baker. "We are going to have him into the office tomorrow morning to discuss this. Because he stepped off, we felt a refund was in order."

Bred in Kentucky by Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate, Gormley is the first starter out of the stakes-winning Bernstein mare Race to Urga.