01/07/2011 12:48PM

Get Stormy, Battle of Hastings head deep edition of Fort Lauderdale

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Barbara D. Livingston
Get Stormy wins last summer's Bernard Baruch, his second stakes score of the Saratoga meet.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainers Tom Bush and Gregory Fox, who send out favorites Get Stormy and Battle of Hastings in Sunday’s $100,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, both agree on one thing. The first graded turf stakes of the meet has come up one tough affair.

“My goodness gracious it’s a strong race,” said Bush, whose Get Stormy makes his first start since finishing 11th and last in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. “It’s the real deal.”

Fox, whose Battle of Hastings has already earned more than $1.3 million, simply said “We’re at Gulfstream Park, did you expect anything less?” when asked about the strength of the lineup for the Grade 3 Fort Lauderdale.

Both Bush and Fox are using the Fort Lauderdale as a possible prep for the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 5.

Get Stormy won the Grade 2 Fourstardave and Bernard Baruch handicaps last summer at Saratoga before venturing into Grade 1 company, where he finished fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“I don’t really have an explanation for his race in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Bush. “He was kind of in chasing mode that day.”

Bush said jockey Javier Castellano told him Get Stormy “wasn’t handling the course very well. I think he’ll like the firmness of the Gulfstream course and we need to be a little aggressive leaving the gate just to get him into the bridle. Hopefully, he comes back to his old form.”

Battle of Hastings closed out his 2010 campaign with a convincing 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs n his first start since being switched to Fox’s barn late last summer. Battle of Hastings, an English-bred son of Royal Anthem, is multiple Grade 1- placed but had been winless prior to his victory in the River City since capturing the Grade 2 Virginia Derby in July 2009. He will be ridden on Sunday by Julien Leparoux.

“He’s transitioned seamlessly to Payson Park and is training great,” said Fox. “It’s a tough race with a big field and racing from the one hole should give Julien ample opportunity to let the race evolve in front of him.”

Get Stormy and Battle of Hastings will face 10 rivals, including the multiple graded stakes winner Blues Street, Grade 3 winner Baletti, the graded stakes-placed Smart Bid, multiple stakes winner Bim Bam, and the red-hot Little Mike, who has won four of his last five starts.