Fulmineo Pulls Clear To Win James W. Murphy

May 18, 2024

Fulmineo clear of his rivals in the James W. Murphy (Anika Miskar/Past The Wire)

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

BALTIMORE – Starlight Racing and Mark Grier’s Fulmineo, racing for the second straight time in his home state, came with a steady run on the outside through the stretch and earned his first career stakes win in Saturday’s $100,000 James W. Murphy at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The 59th running of the one-mile Murphy for 3-year-olds and up on the grass was the fifth of nine stakes, five graded, worth $3.3 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program, immediately preceding the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Jockey Flavien Prat, previously aboard Fulmineo ($6.60) for his runner-up finish in last fall’s Pilgrim (G3) at Aqueduct, won the Murphy for a second straight year after setting a course record on Nagirroc in 2023. It was the first Murphy win for Fair Hill, Md.-based trainer Arnaud Delacour.

Bred in Maryland by Country Life Farm and Starr of Quality LLC and outfitted with blinkers for the first time, Fulmineo raced in mid-pack as Speedyness, winner of the Feb. 24 Miracle Wood at Laurel Park trying turf for the first time, outran grass stakes winner Tocayo for the early lead. They went the first quarter-mile in 24.90 seconds and the half in 51.88, with Prat keeping Fulmineo in the clear four-wide down the backstretch.

Speedyness was still in front but tiring when the field hit the top of the stretch, when Fulmineo was set down by Prat and he responded with aplomb, pulling clear to win by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:44.78 over a turf course rated soft. Crystal Quest got up for second, followed by Abrumar, Massif, Echo Lane, Speedyness, Naptown, Tocayo and Buckin’ Dreamer. Lucky Jeremy, Twirling Point and main-track-only entrant Copper Tax were scratched.

Fulmineo broke his maiden last summer in his second start and first on turf at Colonial Downs, one race before the Pilgrim, then was beaten 5 ½ lengths when 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The Bolt d’Oro colt was winless in four tries this year, finishing second as the favorite in a 1 1/8-mile allowance against older horses April 19 at Laurel Park.

The James W. Murphy pays homage to the late trainer that won nearly 1,400 races and more than 50 stakes and $24 million in purses starting in 1965. He was named the MTHA’s Trainer of the Year in 2006, three years before he died at age 82.


Winning Trainer Arnaud Delacour (Fulmineo): “I thought there was plenty of pace, especially the first quarter on that kind of ground. He was nice and relaxed, very responsive. I thought when Flavien asked him, he was pretty decisive about coming. We’ll look at the condition book, but we’ll try to find some soft ground for him and see if we can step him up. He’s improving. It’s great having a 3-year-old peaking at this time of the year.”

Winning Jockey Flavien Prat (Fulmineo): “We had a good trip. He broke okay and we were able to save ground in the first turn. Then, on the back side it seemed like the pace slowed down a bit. I was able to get him to the outside on the good ground. From there, he was traveling well and did the rest.”

Jockey Javier Castellano (Crystal Quest, 2nd): “I was following (Naptown). He cut back to the rail and that’s where I had to check the horse and completely stop the momentum. This horse took off again. Too late. The winner, he got the jump outside. I would have won. I think I had the best horse in the race. I should have won. If I could have gotten through, I would have won the race.”

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