What happens when an unheralded 2-year-old scores an upset victory in the grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)? First off, analysts start debating whether the performance was a fluke. Secondly, they start pondering whether the upstart longshot can be a factor on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Those are the questions facing Storm the Court, who posted the biggest upset in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile history when he battled to victory at 45-1 on November 1. Was it a one-time fluke? Maybe, though the remainder of Storm the Court’s juvenile season hints there might be more to this colt than first meets the eye.
Conditioned by Peter Eurton, Storm the Court had little difficulty winning his debut for the partnership of Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson and Dan Hudock. Disregarded at 12-1 in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden dash at Del Mar, Storm the Court pressed the pace and edged clear late to win comfortably.
Storm the Court then ran into trouble in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), when he lost his rider as another horse ducked in and caused a collision. But Storm the Court shrugged off the incident and ran a deceptively good race when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the American Pharoah Stakes (G1), when he overcame a wide trip from off the pace to finish third in a race dominated by the frontrunners.
The addition of blinkers and a change in racing tactics made all the difference in the Juvenile. With a flash of speed, just like in his debut, Storm the Court carved out the pace and turned back a stiff challenge from Anneau d’Or to win by a head in 1:44.93 for 1 1/16 miles. His final time was fast over a tiring track and translated to an excellent 102 Brisnet speed rating.
“I thought (in the American Pharoah) he ran a little green,” winning jockey Flavien Prat said after the Juvenile. “He broke well, and then he was kind of looking around. On the backside he kind of (lost) his focus and kind of dropped back. … I think the blinkers helped him a lot.”
A son of 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Court Vision, Storm the Court was sold twice at auction for prices of $5,000 and $60,000. With $1.1 million earned in the Juvenile, Storm the Court already represents a hefty return on investment for his connections.
But the best might still be to come. Although Storm the Court’s pedigree suggests he might prove best on grass, his early success at Santa Anita indicates he can be a factor on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.