11/25/2010 1:54PM

Stormy Crystal may actually get tested at Turf Paradise


PHOENIX – The filly Stormy Crystal and the colt Montellano look to establish themselves atop the Arizona-bred 2-year-old ranks as they lead their respective divisions of the $35,000 Arizona Breeders Futurity at Turf Paradise Saturday. The filly division, which goes as race 7, drew a field of 11. The colt-and-gelding division, race 8, matches 12. Both races are at six furlongs.

Stormy Crystal has made a mockery of her opposition in her two starts, both here last month. She won her debut Oct. 1 by 10 3/4 lengths. She prompted the pace and took over going to the far turn that day. In the Oct. 16 ATBA Sales Stakes, however, she blew the start. It mattered not. Under Adolfo Morales, she lagged back, then circled the field and drew off to win in a romp by 6 1/2 lengths. Morales again will ride Stormy Crystal, who is trained by Molly Pearson and owned by Just for Fun Farms.

While those two big wins may make her the heavy favorite, Beyer Speed Figure fans may be tempted to look elsewhere, namely to Minnesota invader Early Girl. Stormy Crystal’s two wins earned Beyers of 47 and 43. Early Girl, trained by John Michael Johnson and owned by Triple AAA Ranch, led all the way to win her debut by five lengths at Canterbury Aug. 28, earning a Beyer of 69. She hasn’t run since, so she must deal with a layoff, facing winners for the first time, and new surroundings. Wilson Dieguez rides.

Montellano, the favorite for the male division of the Arizona Breeders Futurity, easily won his debut at Prairie Meadows last May 14 but saw hard times in his next two. He faded to finish last of seven in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile July 17, and then faded to last of seven again in an allowance race at Remington Sept. 15. But Montellano came here Nov. 12, dueled for the lead, and pulled clear late to win by two lengths under Jake Barton. Barton again rides Montellano, who is trained by James Frey.

His main threat may come from Jamaican Memories. He dueled early with Montellano in that Nov. 12 race and finished second. That was his first start in five months so he may improve, and trainer Scott Rollins adds blinkers. Mike Iammarino rides again.