LAUREL, MD – Waterville Lake Stables’ homebred Derrynane, a troubled fifth when stretched out for her furthest race to date, cuts back to a more familiar distance as she seeks a second career stakes win in Sunday’s $100,000 Stormy Blues at Laurel Park.
The 14th running of the 5 ½-furlong Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies headlines a Father’s Day program featuring three turf stakes worth $250,000 in purses. It is joined by a pair of $75,000 events restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses, the Find for 3-year-olds and up and All Brandy for fillies and mares 3 and older, each going 1 1/16 miles.
Post time for the first of 10 races is 12:40 p.m.
Based in New York with trainer Christophe Clement, Derrynane made her sophomore debut April 15 at Keeneland, splitting horses in the final eighth of a mile and just missing by a neck in the 5 ½-furlong Limestone. Clement kept her home for her next start, the seven-furlong Soaring Softly (G3) May 28 at Belmont Park, where she bobbled at the start and raced inside before being beaten a total of two lengths as the favorite.
“She’s a very nice filly. I thought she was very unlucky her first time out this year at Keeneland,” Clement said from England, where he will saddle Pizza Bianca in the Coronation Stakes (G1) and Slipstream in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) Friday at Royal Ascot.
“I ran her too far the last time going seven-eighths in the stakes at Belmont. It was a mistake but she still ran very well,” he added. “I think she will appreciate the fact that we’re going to run her at a shorter trip. She had a very good work last weekend and we look forward to seeing her run.”
Derrynane debuted last summer at Saratoga racing twice over less-than-firm ground, breaking her maiden at first asking against fellow New York-breds and running fifth in the 5 ½-furlong Bolton Landing. From there she traveled to Canada to capture the five-furlong Woodbine Cares in September as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup, where she again encountered early trouble and trailed the field for a half-mile before a dramatic late rally saw her finish fourth, beaten a length, against males in the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
“She’s always shown she was a stakes horse. She got very unlucky in the Breeders’ Cup. She’s fast,” Clement said. “She’s a fresh filly. I hope the weather is not too extreme, but the filly is doing very well. We’re excited.”
The Stormy Blues will be the sixth consecutive start at a new racetrack for Derrynane, who retains the services of her regular rider, 2021 Eclipse Award winner Joel Rosario. They will break from Post 4 in a field of nine.
“She’s fast and she will adapt,” Clement said. “We don’t have any stakes for her in New York before Saratoga so the timing of this race is perfect. So let’s go, and we’ll see what happens.”
Entered to make her seasonal and turf debut is Hope H. Jones’ Buy the Best, who capped her juvenile season with four consecutive wins including back-to-back stakes victories in the six-furlong Smart Halo and seven-furlong Gin Talking at Laurel. She is joined by her stablemate, Norah B Stable’s Still My Babe, a maiden special weight winner going 5 ½ furlongs on the Laurel turf last September that has gone unraced since finishing off the board in the Stewart Manor in November at Belmont.
Coming into the Stormy Blues on a more recent win streak is Kenneth Wheeler’s Fly Me Home. The Temple City filly won a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight April 15 at Laurel by three lengths and followed up with a 1 ½-length triumph over older horses in a five-furlong allowance May 15 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
All three of Fly Me Home’s races have come over the main track, in races originally carded for the turf. Each of her wins have come in front-running fashion under Jevian Toledo, who returns to ride from outside Post 9.
“She’s very, very fast. We’ve tried to get her in on the grass and have never gotten the chance. It’s been rained off every time,” trainer Michael Stidham said. “I hope we’re right about the grass after her running so well on the dirt. We’re going to find out.”
Third in her March 23 debut at Fair Grounds, Fly Me Home flashed her speed before she even raced which, in part, led to the connections waiting until she turned 3 to launch her career.
“That’s her natural speed. She’s been that way since she’s been a baby. We had a little setback with her that slowed us down getting her to the races,” Stidham said. “Certainly she’s always shown us a ton of talent, but at different points she was almost too fast for her own good. We’ve had to really work at getting her to settle and relax and save something to finish with. It seems that, with racing, she’s maturing both physically and mentally, and doing well.”
Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold shipped to Laurel to win the 2017 Stormy Blues with Morticia, who was in the midst of a three-stakes win streak. Morticia would go on to become a two-time Grade 3 winner of more than $1 million in purse earnings before being retired following the 2020 season.
Arnold is back this year with Amy Dunne, Pat Harlow, Brenda Miley and Jean Wilkinson’s Irish-bred Artos, most recently third by a head in the five-furlong Mamzelle May 14 at Churchill Downs. The Stormy Blues will be the third race off a layoff for Artos, who was ninth in the March 26 Melody of Colors at Gulfstream Park in her sophomore debut.
“She ran really well last time,” Arnold said. “We were disappointed with her first race back in Florida. Don’t know why. She’d been off quite a while. She didn’t like the turf course and she didn’t get away good and just didn’t run well. She came back and trained good and ran very good at Churchill to get beat. Actually I watched the race four times and I thought she was second all four times.”
Artos was a nose maiden special weight winner second time out going 5 ½ furlongs last May at Churchill, earning her a trip to Royal Ascot for the Queen Mary (G2). She finished fourth of 21 horses that day, 3 ¼ lengths behind European winner Quick Suzy.
“She ran really good over there. She came back with a little issue that made her blow the rest of her 2-year-old year. We got her started a little bit late, but not that bad,” Arnold said. “I won this race with Morticia a couple years ago and went right on into the race at Saratoga, and that’s the plan with this filly. She’s doing very well. No excuses. She’s ready.”
Feargal Lynch gets the assignment aboard Artos from Post 8.
Completing the field are Lola Flo, sixth last out in the 1 1/8-mile Regret (G3) June 4 at Churchill; Lost My Sock, fourth in the Limestone and seventh in the Soaring Softly; 2021 Bolton Landing runner-up Poppy Flower; and Visby, second by a length in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight April 22 over Laurel’s main track in her lone start.
Stormy Blues was one of the top 2-year-old fillies of 1994 whose four wins in six starts that year included the Matron (G1), Sorority (G3) and Selima (G3), the latter at Laurel Park. Trained by late Hall of Famer Scotty Schulhofer, she finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release