Live racing, without spectators, returns to Belmont Park on Wednesday, June 3 with a 10-race card highlighted by the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test which has attracted a field of six including millionaires Rushing Fall, Got Stormy and Fifty Five.
Live racing was last conducted on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit on Sunday, March 15 at Aqueduct Racetrack before racing was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the five-day opening week, live racing at the 25-day Belmont spring/summer meet will be conducted Thursday through Sunday with a first post time of 1:15 p.m. Eastern. The spring/summer meet will conclude on Sunday, July 12.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, who will saddle both e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Rushing Fall and Peter Brant’s New York-bred Fifty Five, said he is excited for the return of live racing at Belmont Park.
“Thankfully, we’re back racing. I know the management at NYRA has worked extremely hard to get racing back going, which I know myself and the rest of the horsemen are really appreciative for,” said Brown. “I’ve been back in New York now for a couple of weeks and I feel they’re really doing a great job of keeping the backside safe. I feel very comfortable training here. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of hard work to get racing up and going again and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Rushing Fall, a 5-year-old daughter of More Than Ready, boasts a record of 11-8-2-0 with purse earnings in excess of $2 million. A four-time Grade 1 winner, Rushing Fall captured the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game at Belmont Park last year.
Bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, Rushing Fall will make her seasonal debut off of a fourth in the Grade 1 First Lady in October at Keeneland.
Rushing Fall and Fifty Five breezed a half-mile in company in 50.48 seconds Thursday on the Belmont inner turf and Brown said Rushing Fall is poised for a strong campaign after a sometimes trying 4-year-old season.
“This seems like a good starting point. She’s only run one bad race in her life and that was her last start,” said Brown. “She had to overcome some things. She had a mini-layoff and she had gotten really sick at Saratoga. I thought we had her ready [for the First Lady]. She loves Keeneland, but it didn’t work out.”
Brown said Rushing Fall, a Grade 1-winner in each of her first three seasons, is back to her best form.
“She’s had an extremely consistent career and she’s training as good as ever right now,” said Brown.
Fifty Five, a 6-year-old Get Stormy mare, won four of six starts in 2019 led by scores in the open Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct along with the restricted Mount Vernon, John Hettinger and Ticonderoga at Belmont Park. Bred in the Empire State by Empire Equines, Fifty Five has won 11 of 22 career starts with purse earnings in excess of $1 million.
With seven of her 11 career wins on the Belmont turf, Brown said he is optimistic about Fifty Five’s chances in an admittedly tough spot on Opening Day.
“With everything that’s been set back because of the pandemic, the first New York-bred race for her isn’t until later in the summer and we have to get her started,” said Brown. “She loves Belmont so we’ll see what happens.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will pilot Rushing Fall from the inside post while Joel Rosario will guide Fifty Five from Post 2.
Gary Barber’s Got Stormy, a 5-year-old Get Stormy chestnut, rose to prominence last summer by becoming the first filly to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave, in its 35th running, covering one mile over the firm inner turf in a track record 1:32 flat at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by multiple Hall of Famer Mark Casse, Got Stormy followed her record coup with runner-up efforts against the boys in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. She completed a sensational season with a rallying score in the Grade 1 Matriarch in December at Del Mar.
“She really matured. Most don’t, but she did and not just physically but mentally,” said Casse. “The light went on over the winter of her 3-year-old year. As a 3-year-old, she was very nervous all the time. As a 4-year-old, that nervousness was gone.
“A lot of the Get Stormy horses tend to get better as they get older,” added Casse. “Often, the difference between a good horse and a great horse can be a length or two.”
The veteran conditioner said Got Stormy’s uptick in form reminded him of the progression of Robert E. Masterson’s dual Eclipse Award-winning mare Tepin, who took honors as Champion Grass Mare in 2015-16.
“I ran Tepin at Del Mar as a 3-year-old [in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks] and she ran poorly,” recalled Casse. “We sent her home to Ocala and when we brought her back in the wintertime at Gulfstream, her first race back was powerful. At that time, I told Mr. Masterson, I think she can run with any turf filly in North America.
“We did the same thing with Got Stormy,” continued Casse. “She tailed off at the end of her 3-year-old year and when we brought her back at Gulfstream, when she won, I told Gary [Barber] she reminded me of Tepin. I even took a picture of Tepin’s PPs and sent them to him.”
Casse, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016, will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in a ceremony re-scheduled for the Summer of 2021.
The veteran conditioner said Got Stormy, off-the board in the Grade 3 Endeavour in her seasonal debut in February at Tampa Bay Downs, showed grit last out when second in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 7 at Santa Anita Park.
“I don’t know that I did a good job getting her ready for that race [the Endeavour],” said Casse. “She lost it at Tampa. It reminded me of when she was a 3-year-old. I don’t know what it was, but she was just a wreck.
“Her race in California, she has nothing to be ashamed of there,” continued Casse. “We flew her out and she competed against the boys at their house. They only beat her a neck.”
Casse said a good result on Wednesday could propel Got Stormy to the Grade 1, $300,000 Just a Game, a one-mile turf event for older fillies and mares slated for June 27 at Belmont Park.
Got Stormy will emerge from Post 3 under Tyler Gaffalione.
R Unicorn Stable’s Call Me Love, a 4-year-old British-bred daughter of Sea The Stars, will make her North American debut in the Beaugay. Previously campaigned in Italy where she captured the Group 3 Premio Verziere Memorial Aldo Cirla at the San Siro in October and the Group 2 Premio Lydia Tesio last out on November 3 at Capannelle, Call Me Love will make her first start for trainer Christophe Clement with Junior Alvarado in the irons from Post 4.
Augustin Stable’s Xenobia, trained by Jonathan Thomas and to be piloted by Manny Franco from the outside post, will look to make her seasonal debut a winning one. The 6-year-old Falco chestnut was a group stakes winner in her native Ireland in July 2018, capturing the Group 3 Brownstown at Fairyhouse for then trainer Bill Farrell.
Xenobia joined the Thomas stable for her 2019 campaign and romped to a front-running score in the Grade 3 Athenia in October at Belmont in just her third start for new connections.
Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Passing Out, a 4-year-old daughter of Orb, has won three of seven starts including a last-out optional claiming win on the Tampa Bay turf. The eye-catching seven-length score earned a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Passing Out will depart from Post 5 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Slated as Race 9 on Wednesday’s 10-race card, which offers a first post of 1:15 p.m. Eastern, the Grade 3 Beaugay will feature on America’s Day at the Races, produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports, and airing live on FS2.
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NYRA Press Release
Photo: Got Stormy with Tyler Gaffalione up wins the Matriarch Stakes (G1T) at Del Mar Dec. 1, 2019. Credit: Benoit Photos