SARATOGA SPRINGS — Trainer Mark Casse said owner Gary Barber is “not afraid to step out of the box.”
Then Got Stormy stepped into the record book.
One week after she won the De La Rose at Saratoga Race Course, the 4-year-old filly powered away from the field to win the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga by 2 1/2 lengths over Raging Bull to become the first female to win the race in 35 runnings.
Just for good measure, she broke the course record with a 1:32.00 for a mile on the Inner Turf Course.
Casse had been considering running Got Stormy against males, anyway, but he had to be talked out of waiting for the Wooodbine Mile while wheeling her back on just six days rest from last weekend’s sharp victory by four lengths in the De La Rose. The decision looked like a no–brainer after she dispatched a field that included two Grade I winners and one Grade II winner from the barn of turf king Chad Brown.
“It’s all about Gary Barber,” Casse said. “I told him why we shouldn’t run her. He said, ‘That’s good, but are you happy with how she is training?’ I said, ‘Honestly, I’ve never seen her train so good,’ and he said, ‘We’re running.’ I wish I could say I was the smart one, but it was Gary Barber.”
There was some calculation to Barber’s strategy, since, as a female, Got Stormy would get some weight allowance from the rest of the Fourstardave field, and despite jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. coming in one pound over, Got Stormy carried at least two pounds fewer than each of her rivals.
Once they made the last-minute decision to run Got Stormy in the Fourstardave, Casse and Barber recruited Santana to ride, since her regular jockey, Tyler Gaffalione already had a commitment on Casse’s other entry, March to the Arch.
“I told Mark to enter her,” said Barber, who owns the controlling shares in partnership with Southern Equine Stable. “I always wanted to run a week back, and he said, ‘No, no, no, let’s take it easy, we’ll have the Woodbine Mile in five weeks.’
“When she won so easy, I said, ‘We have to try this.’ She loves the course, and she just turned in a dynamite performance. One thing I had a little concern was Tyler was gone, but Ricardo was perfection.”
Got Stormy and Santana remained content to take a stalking position behind Gidu, who blasted away from the field early for an 11-length lead.
The clump of horses behind Gidu began to chip away at the lead on the second turn, then Got Stormy and Made You Look dueled to the eighth pole.
She responded when Santana asked for more and broke the record of 1:33.13 set by Macagone just eight days earlier. After Raging Bull, Brown’s 5-year-old mare Uni was third, a head behind her stablemate.
“She’s a monster,” Santana said. “I had plenty of horse at the sixteenth pole.”
“I was fortunate to train another filly a few years ago in Tepin, who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile and then was second in it,” Casse said. “I told Gary early in the year that she was our next Tepin. It’s nice sometimes when you’re right.”
He ran a little greenly, racing parlance for inexperience.
He ran when he was told to go, though, and Green Light Go put it all together to win the Grade II Saratoga Special for 2-year-olds on the main track.
In his first start since winning by 3 1/4 lengths in his career debut at Belmont Park, Green Light Go won by 3 3/4 this time, settling off the pace, taking some dirt in his face, then shot away from the field when Junior Alvarado hit him with a left-handed stick at the eighth pole.
“We might really have a nice one here,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said.
Jerkens checked off several boxes when assessing Green Light Go’s Saratoga Special victory, noting that “he leaned a little in the stretch; maybe a little green, but I guess he’s still learning, too.”
Green Light Go won from off the pace on what had been a speed-favoring track, Jerkens said, waited patiently for his cue from Alvarado.
“I put him in the race, and he handled everything very professionally,” Alvarado said. “I knew how much horse I had the whole way, and I was very excited at the way he handled the kickback, and just rating behind horses very kindly. We knew how good he was, and I trusted him there.
“He’s got a body like a 4-year-old and his mind is like an old horse’s mind. He’s very focused. There’s nothing like a 2-year-old about him.”
Jerkens said they’ll consider the Hopeful on closing weekend, but if it looks like it’s coming up too quickly, they’ll wait for the Champagne at Belmont Park.
ARLINGTON MILLION DAY
Brown may have failed to win with three shots at the Fourstardave, but he continued to dominate on the turf at Arlington Park in Chicago, sweeping the Grade I Beverly D., Grade I Secretariat and Grade I Arlington Million.
The champion Sistercharlie won her fifth straight Grade I race, which includes the last two runnings of the Beverly D., back-to-back editions of the Diana at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Two races later, Bricks and Mortar won the Arlington Million for his sixth straight win, four of which are Grade I.
Those victories bookended a victory by Valid Point in the Secretariat to run his career record to 3-for-3 in his first stakes attempt.
Brown has won a record five straight Beverly D.’s and has won the Arlington Million the last three years and four times overall.
Just for good measure, he also won the Grade III Pucker Up with Cafe Americano after the Arlington Million for four graded stakes victories in a row.
Trainer Jason Servis told NYRA that Maximum Security is looking at both the Aug. 24 Travers at Saratoga and the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.
“We’ll make a decision soon for his next start,” he said. “I just want to make sure he is 100%, but he’s still not there yet.”
The other probables for the Travers include Code of Honor, Endorsed, Everfast, Game Winner, Highest Honors, Laughing Fox, Lookin At Bikinis, Owendale, Tacitus and Jim Dandy winner Tax.
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