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The burgeoning but eventful, to say the least, career of Storm the Court comes full circle Sunday when the 3-year-old son of Court Vision gets tested on turf for the first time in the Grade III, $125,000 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
Barely less than a year ago, on August 10, 2019, the colt trained by Peter Eurton for Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen and partners, made his racing debut here a victorious one. Twenty-three days later, Storm the Court was bumped by bolting 1-2 favorite Eight Rings shortly after the start of the meet-climaxing Del Mar Futurity with both horses losing their riders.
Race 10 at Del Mar on Sunday, August 09 - Post 9:30 PM
|1||I'm Leaving You||15-1||Geovanni Franco
|2||K P All Systems Go||6-1||Abel Cedillo
|3||Azul Coast||4-1||Drayden Van Dyke
|6||Smooth Like Strait||5-2||Umberto Rispoli
|7||Storm the Court||3-1||Flavien Prat
|8||Indian Peak||6-1||Mike Smith
Following that there was, as racing fans know, a 45-1 upset victory in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the honor of an Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old of 2019 and a 0-for-4 record in 2020 on the Kentucky Derby trail.
The La Jolla could turn out to be a fresh start on a new surface, or a continuation/affirmation of the still smoldering Derby fires.
"We're going to the grass to give us some options," Eurton said Friday. "It seems like a good opportunity because, for one, we're here. We still haven't ruled out the Kentucky Derby. Even if he wins this race we won't know what we'll do. That will be something to discuss probably for the next week or two afterward."
Storm the Court has accumulated 36 points in Kentucky Derby qualifying races and ranks 17th in the current standings through Friday. The Run for the Roses field is set at 20.
"It's been an unusual year because of the change in schedule," said Bernsen. "I don't think anyone has been able to stick with the plan they had after the Breeders' Cup. It will be exciting to see what he can do this weekend on the turf and it will give us some options going forward.
"His daddy won the Breeders' Cup Turf at big odds as well, and also won on dirt. So he was versatile and we think (Storm the Court) is too. That suggests it's worth giving it a shot to see what we have.
"It's nice to be able to do that and not have to travel. He's traveled quite a bit since the Breeders' Cup - Arkansas, Ohio - so it's good for us to be able to stay here and do this."
Storm the Court's sire, Court Vision, was a five-time Grade I stakes winner. As a 2-year-old he took the Iroquois and Remsen on dirt. Switched to turf as a 3-year-old, after a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Court Vision won at least one Grade I on grass each year from ages 3-6. He ran in the Breeders' Cup Mile three times and, in his last try, upset the great mare Goldikova at odds of 30-1.
Storm the Court has worked four times at Del Mar. He had an acclimation 4 furlong go on the turf on July 12, 5-furlong grass exercises on July 19 and 26 and a 5-furlong tightener on dirt last Sunday.
The first two were to Eurton's satisfaction, the third he described as a "hiccup" work. "He outworked his company, but he was too busy gawking," Eurton said. "But the last one (:59.40, second-best of 72 at the distance) was really good."
The field from the rail: I'm Leaving You (Giovanni Franco, 15-1); K P All Systems Go (Abel Cedillo, 6-1); Azul Coast (Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1); Ajourneytofreedom (Ruben Gonzalez, 12-1); Kanderel (Juan Hernandez, 10-1); Smooth Like Strait (Umberto Rispoli, 5-2); Storm The Court (Flavien Prat, 3-1), and Indian Peak (Mike Smith, 6-1).
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