The 5 1/2-furlong turf race will be the shortest race of her 25-race career.
Having passed her first test in a grass sprint last month at Kentucky Downs, Got Stormy readies for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) Nov. 7 at Keeneland with a race on the same course and trip Oct. 9 in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3T).
At 5 1/2 furlongs on the Keeneland grass, the conditions replicate those of the Turf Sprint, though not the quality. The race is restricted to fillies and mares, while the Turf Sprint is an open race at the highest level, one that draws some of the best horses from all over the world.
Not that Got Stormy has much to prove from a class perspective. The dual grade 1 winner ran second in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T) last fall, beaten just a length and a half by fellow female Uni.
This year, Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse is more inclined to pursue the Turf Sprint with Got Stormy, believing the distance could suit her better if the Keeneland course is wet and tiring next month, as it can be at times in November in Kentucky.
It is likely to be firm Friday. As of midday Oct. 6, the long-term forecast called for dry conditions leading up to the race.
The race presents a challenge. The 2-3 finishers behind her in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes (G3T), Winning Envelope and Into Mystic, are back, and the race also drew grass speedsters Surrender Now, Jakarda, Violent Times, and others.
It also attracted a turf newcomer in Chalon, who has earned almost $1 million by winning nine of 22 starts on dirt.
“For me, the Buffalo Trace (Franklin County) is a way to get a race over the turf course and see if she can actually handle 5 1/2” furlongs, Casse said. “I would be shocked if she can’t, but there are some nice fillies in there.”
The 5-year-old Get Stormy mare totes the heftiest bankroll in the race at $1.9 million, earning $288,300 of that for owner Gary Barber with her victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint.
Though other trainers might have opted to await the Breeders’ Cup after that Sept. 12 win, in which she drew clear by 3 1/4 lengths under confident handling from regular rider Tyler Gaffalione, Casse didn’t feel the need to give her almost two months off.
The Franklin County will be the shortest race of her 25-race career.
“We don’t worry about our win percentage. We run our horses,” he said after commending Kenny McPeek for his training of the actively raced Swiss Skydiver, winner of the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes (G1). “Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But you can’t win it if you’re not in it.”
Speed horses Into Mystic and Jakarka are two leading threats to Got Stormy, who played a stalking role in her first grass sprint.
Late-running Winning Envelope should finish strongly and is back on a course where she has a win and a fifth in two local grass starts.