Stars of Yesterday: Looking Back at Best Arkansas Derby Winners
The fields for the 14 races that comprise the Breeders’ Cup World Championships begin to really come into focus in late summer and early fall.
The “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series offers the winners of specific individual races an expenses-paid starting spot for corresponding Breeders’ Cup races. On Aug. 14 at Saratoga Race Course, Got Stormy capitalized with a victory in the $500,000, Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap to punch her ticket to the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF at Del Mar Nov. 6.
Dedicated racing fans are no doubt familiar with this talented racemare, who has run well twice previously in the World Championships, including a runner-up finish in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park. She’s now 6 years old, so let’s take a closer look at Got Stormy’s chances to be a major player in this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
Got Stormy is one of the most popular Thoroughbred racehorses in North America … and for good reason. When Got Stormy is on top of her game, she is an exceptional racemare. She’s won 12 of 30 career starts with 20 top-three finishes and $2,398,403 in career purse earnings.
While it’s not uncommon for the most talented females Thoroughbreds to enjoy success in races that also include males, it does take a special individual to be able to excel against all comers, especially in Grade or Group 1 races that mark the best competition on the planet.
Nine times during her distinguished career Got Stormy taken on males, and she has two Grade 1 wins and four seconds in Grade 1s to show for it.
Just the fact that she could set a course record while winning the Grade 1 Fourstardave in 1:32 in 2019 as a 4-year-old and then come back and win the same race two years later as a 6-year-old tells you what you need to know about this racehorse’s ability and durability.
As Got Stormy has gotten older, she has become perhaps a bit less consistent, but she typically finds her best stride each year in the second half of the season like many of the elite European turf runners. In the last three years, she is 6-for-11 (54.5%) with three seconds from July through December, compared with just two wins in nine starts from January through June in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
When she is at her best, Got Stormy is capable of putting up big speed figures. In 11 of her last 18 races, Got Stormy has recorded an Equibase Speed Figure of 110 or above, including a career-best run of 120-115-118-117 during a four-race stretch to close out her 2019 season.
She began her 2021 campaign with a 113 Equibase Speed Figure for winning the Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes in February going a mile at Gulfstream Park. She took a step back when fifth in both the one-mile Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes May 1 and three-quarter-mile Jackpocket Jaipur Stakes June 5, but trainer Mark Casse knew she was ready to run a big race in the Aug. 14 Fourstardave.
“It’s her. She just gets happy,” Casse said. “She was walking around after I had saddled her and I told [jockey] Tyler [Gaffalione], ‘She’s got her game face on today, they better be ready,’ I could tell she just wanted to go out there and do it.”
Got Stormy held up her end of the bargain as she stalked from third, seized command in the stretch, and powered away to prevail by 1 ½ lengths in 1:33.09. She earned a 112 Equibase Speed Figure, a 104 Beyer Speed Figure (the 10th triple-digit Beyer of her career), and a 122 TimeForm US rating, which combined indicate that Got Stormy still has the ability to compete at an elite level.
Another factor to consider when evaluating Got Stormy’s chances to be a major factor in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF is that she has performed very well on the grass in Southern California. The Breeders’ Cup Mile to be held Nov. 6 at Del Mar, and that means that the type of turf she very likely will race on is a firm, dry grass that seems to really suit Got Stormy. She won her lone start on the Del Mar turf in the 2019 Matriarch Stakes, a Grade 1 race she took by three-quarters of a length to earn a 117 Equibase Speed Figure. She also has raced twice at Santa Anita Park, finishing second to Uni in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile and second in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes in March 2020, earning 118 and 111 Equibase Speed Figures, respectively.
“We should have hard and fast [turf] there, and the turns aren’t quite as tight as they are here [at Saratoga] but they’re sharp,” Casse said. “I want to get one race into her, I just haven’t figured out where I want to do that yet.”
Got Stormy will remain at Saratoga to continue her preparation as Casse considers his options for her final prep race for the Breeders’ Cup.
“She just loves training here so much. Most horses do,” Casse added regarding Got Stormy’s affinity for Saratoga. “She enjoys the tight turns. She can run around a turn like most horses can’t, so that helps.”
The Breeders’ Cup Mile typically draws one of the deepest and most talented fields at the World Championships, so Got Stormy will need her “A” game in November at Del Mar to win the race. She showed in the Fourstardave that she still has that type of performance in her, but at age 6 does she still have the ability to consistently produce that level of effort? We’ll see …
For a racehorse already proven at a specific class level and distance – in this case Grade 1 races at a mile on the grass – pedigree is not as key a component for this type of evaluation. Plus, Got Stormy also has shown the versatility to cut back effectively to sprints.
Let’s just say a female turf miler who has beaten males twice at a mile in Grade 1 races and finished second in the 2019 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, 2019 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, and 2020 Frank E. Kilroe Mile has established class.
Got Stormy is from the second crop of three-time Grade 1 winner Get Stormy, a turf specialist whose signature wins came in the Maker’s Mark Mile and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in 2011. Got Stormy is one of six group or graded stakes winners sired by Get Stormy and his leading career earner by a significant margin. Graded stakes winner Fifty Five checks in second with $1,088,288.
Got Stormy’s dam (mother), Super Phoebe, by Malabar Gold, won nine of 22 career starts in Puerto Rico at distances ranging from 5 ½ furlongs to seven furlongs. She finished in the top three 18 times. Super Phoebe is a half-sister (same dam, different sire) to graded stakes winners Smooth Air and Overdriven. In addition to Got Stormy, she has produced stakes-placed winners Sir Alfred James and Sky Gold.