05/07/2011 5:06PM

Woodford Reserve: Get Stormy wires field at Churchill Downs

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Barbara D. Livingston
Get Stormy leads the field home in the Woodford Reserve.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Capitalizing on a dawdling early pace, Get Stormy led throughout to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $576,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in the race before the Kentucky Derby.

The race was all but won Friday morning, however, when the speedy Little Mike was scratched from the Woodford, leaving Get Stormy as the lone front-runner in the 13-horse field.

That was the only advantage Get Stormy needed. Kindly rated on the front end by jockey Ramon Dominguez, Get Stormy slowed the pace to a crawl in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, going a half-mile in 50.67 second and three-quarters in 1:15.21. With plenty left in the tank, he was able to open up a large stretch lead and outlasted Smart Bid and Doubles Partner to score by three-quarters of a length.

“Turning from home he really sprinted from the three-eighths pole to the wire,” Dominguez said.

Get Stormy, a 5-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic owned by Mary Sullivan’s Sullimar Stables, won his second consecutive Grade 1 race, following a another front-running score in the Maker’s Mark Mile April 15 at Keeneland.

Get Stormy ($17), trained by Tom Bush, raced 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.81 on a Churchill grass course officially rated firm, but one that had been rain soaked in the past month.

Smart Bid chased the leader in vain throughout, and lasted by a neck over third-place Doubles Partner. Doubles Partner was one of the few horses to launch much of a rally behind the tepid fractions, closing from ninth.

Favored Prince Will I Am, another closer, raced in the rear of the pack early and never threatened in finishing fifth.

Battle of Hastings was pulled up by Joel Rosario entering the first turn of the Woodford, and taken off the track by the horse ambulance.

Bush was noncommittal regarding future plans for Get Stormy. When asked if his horse might return to Churchill Downs this fall in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, he laughed in fear of the three talented horses that could potentially run in that race.

“I mean you’ve got Frankel and Goldikova and Gio Ponti – other than that, sure,” he said.