Bay Storm Gets Another Crack at $1M Ladies Sprint

September 5, 2023

Bay Storm (inside) lost last year’s Ladies Turf Sprint by a nose to heavy favorite Campanelle (Grace Clark)

By Jennie Rees for Kentucky Downs

FRANKLIN, Ky.— Trainer Jonathan Thomas was not on hand when Bridlewood Farm’s Bay Storm lost last year’s $1 million Ladies Turf Sprint by a nose to the internationally accomplished Campanelle. 

Being in absentia didn’t dilute the sting of coming so close with a filly who tries so hard all the time. But at least Thomas was enjoying an otherwise happy occasion.

“That was pretty painful,” he said. “Thankfully I was in my sister’s wedding with my phone in my pocket. I didn’t get to see it in real time. It was a pretty nasty beat, but at least it was by a good filly.”

Bay Storm gets another crack Saturday in the $1 million AGS Ladies Turf Sprint, run as a Grade 2 stakes for the first time. Florent Geroux has the mount. With Campanelle subsequently sold for $5 million and retired to Coolmore’s broodmare band, Bay Storm looms among the favorites in the field of nine fillies and mares set to run 6 1/2 furlongs. Wakanaka and Our Flash Drive also figure to get a lot of play.

Bay Storm, with Florent Geroux up, wins the Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf Sprint Aug. 5 at Ellis Park (Coady Photography)

A 5-year-old daughter of Kantharos, Bay Storm earned a fees-paid spot in the Ladies Sprint by virtue of winning the $200,000 prep race at Ellis Park by a neck over Quaria Comet, who also is in Saturday’s stakes. The Ellis victory was Bay Storm’s first since she won a Monmouth Park sprint stakes before running at Kentucky Downs last year. However, she ran very well in those six intervening races, with three seconds, a pair of thirds and a fourth by a total of a length.

“She’s been looking for the winner’s circle all year, but she’s really shown up,” Thomas said. “The idea was to have her hopefully peaking for this race, knowing how well she ran last year. Hopefully we bring her over in good order and get lucky with her.

“I really like our filly. If she can replicate what she did last year, she’ll be very tough.”

Thomas believes the 6 1/2 furlongs — one of the few longer turf sprints for the division — works in Bay Storm’s favor, even though she won the Ellis Park at 5 1/2 furlongs.

“It seems to be her ideal distance,” he said. “Five, 5 1/2 is a bit short for her. A mile we’ve tried, and it’s been a little too long. Every time she’s run 6 1/2 she’s been very competitive.”

Thomas also is running Augustin Stable’s Regal Realm in the $1 million, Grade 3 Castle Hill Gaming Ladies Turf on Saturday’s showcase card. The 4-year-old daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom won three straight races before finishing third in Saratoga’s De La Rose Stakes.

Regal Realm kicks clear to win the Lady Canterbury June 21 at Canterbury Park (Coady Photography)

“She’s a neat filly,”” Thomas said. “She won a mile stakes at Canterbury, won a ‘two-other-than’ at Belmont, just finished third in the De La Rose at Saratoga, beaten by a good filly. I think she’ll really like the course here. If I didn’t have Bay Storm, I like her enough to have run her in the sprint stakes. I want to separate them.”

Why take two shots to win one $1 million race when you can try to win two $1 million races?

 “I don’t know if I think we can win two, but you always hope you can,” he said. “Both are doing well and belong here.”

Thomas has done very well at Kentucky Downs, including winning a maiden and allowance race already this meet. Last year he had two seconds in stakes out of three starts — his first runners here since he won his Kentucky Downs debut in 2018 with Osare taking the Dueling Grounds Oaks.

Now Kentucky Downs is offering 11 stakes worth at least $1 million for Kentucky-breds, including six Saturday.

“It’s great,” Thomas said. “Listen, there’s a lot of buzz about the place. It’s a really fun place. Sometimes big days, big racing can get a little stuffy, be a little over the top. There’s just good energy here and it’s fun.

“You have some owners who are savvy. They sit on the sidelines and if you’re not in the entry box, they’re probably calling and asking you why. It’s like a fresh look at something. We’re kind of used to seeing the same old thing, just in different venues. This is a different place. It seems a little more relaxed. Outside of bills and horses not running well, the biggest complaint I hear from owners is ‘where has the fun gone?’ I think some guys have fun here.”

Another one from the "black and white marble like notebook." Fish Trappe Road $8.70. UFC pay per view $. Thanks Jon!

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