As the excitement builds for the June 3 opening of Belmont Park, two of the sport's best female turf runners are on course for a showdown in the card's featured stakes.
Millionaires Got Stormy and Rushing Fall are expected to square off in the $100,000 Beaugay Stakes (G3T) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, giving the grade 3 stakes for fillies and mares a grade 1 feel and providing fans with an exciting matchup to greet the first day of racing in New York since March 15.
"That's going to be a good race now. She's doing great, and we're excited about the race and the matchup," said Mark Casse, who trains Gary Barber's Got Stormy. "But it's not a surprise given what you are seeing with other stakes since tracks reopened."
The winner of the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) and the runner-up in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) last year, both against males, Got Stormy was entered in the May 16 Powder Break Stakes at Gulfstream Park but was scratched when the race was moved to the main track.
In two 2020 starts, the 5-year-old daughter of Get Stormy was a disappointing fourth in the Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes (G3T) and then a much more representative second, a neck behind the winner, against males in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (G1T) at Santa Anita Park.
In 20 starts, Casse's multiple grade 1 winner has eight wins and earnings of $1,518,078.
For e Five Racing Thoroughbreds' Rushing Fall, the Beaugay will mark her first start since she finished fourth in the First Lady Stakes Presented by UK HealthCare (G1T) at Keeneland to close her 4-year-old campaign. That loss marked the first time the daughter of More Than Ready finished worse than second in an 11-race career that includes eight wins.
Trainer Chad Brown said the 5-year-old Rushing Fall, the winner of the 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T), has been training sharply for her 2020 debut, which was scheduled for the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) before the Keeneland meet was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"She couldn't be training better," Brown said. "She had a rough fall. She got sick on us (in August) and she missed the Ballston Spa (G2T), and she had to train up to the (First Lady) and wasn't herself, so we gave her time off."
Aside from Rushing Fall, Brown's Beaugay candidates include Peter Brant's Fifty Five, the champion New York-bred female turfer in 2019, and either Stephanie Seymour Brant's Significant Form, who won the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes in Rushing Fall's absence, or Noor Sahara, who will be making her United States debut.
Brown views the Beaugay as a steppingstone for Rushing Fall to the June 27 Longines Just a Game Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park, a mile turf stakes the $2 million earner captured last year. Should Rushing Fall notch an encore victory in the Just a Game, it would complete the rare feat of winning grade 1 stakes at 2, 3, 4, and 5 and put her in the same company as the likes of Forego, Goldikova, Wise Dan, and Beholder as a grade 1 winner in four consecutive years.
"She's won grade 1s the last three seasons, which is hard to do," Brown said. "I think she's a top-class racehorse, and hopefully she can do something that's very rare in winning grade 1s in four straight years. That's what our goal is."
Depending on how Got Stormy fares in the Beaugay, Casse said she could also be a candidate for the Just a Game.
Nominations for the Beaugay close May 23.
Additional reporting by Byron King