Champion Storm the Court Chasing Elusive Victory Friday at Laurel

2019 BC Juvenile (G1) Winner Among Favorites in Turf Allowance Feature

LAUREL, MD – If trainer Lacey Gaudet has her way, Storm the Court’s 56-month long odyssey to find the winner’s circle will end with some fireworks to kick off Independence Day weekend Friday at Laurel Park.

Gaudet will saddle David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson and Peter Eurton’s 7-year-old son of Court Vision in co-featured Race 7, a second-level optional claiming allowance for horses 3 and up scheduled for one mile on the Bowl Game turf course.

Storm the Court is one of four Gaudet-trained horses entered on the nine-race program as Laurel’s 36-day summer meet resumes starting at 12:25 p.m., and the only one to boast being a millionaire Breeders’ Cup winner and Eclipse Award champion.

Making his second start for Gaudet, Storm the Court appears to be well-spotted in his quest, rated as third choice on the morning line in a field of 10 at odds of 4-1.

“I hope so. He’s doing great,” Gaudet said. “It’s been fun having him in the barn.”

Storm the Court’s stunning 45-1 upset of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) earned him the 2-year-old male championship and raised expectations of a horse that originally fetched just $5,000 before being purchased for $60,000 by the partnership of Ryan Exline, Justin Border, Wilson, and Dan Hudock prior to his first start.

Bernsen came on board as a co-owner after his second start and has been part of the journey that has seen Storm the Court run at various distances, surfaces and racetracks across the country seeking his next victory before ultimately landing in Maryland.

“I have other horses in the barn for David Bernsen. He’s really great. He kind of gives me a ballpark of the idea that he has for his horses, and we kind of run with it and expand from there,” Gaudet said. “That’s kind of what we’re doing tomorrow with getting [Storm the Court] back going the mile. Somewhere along the line David thought that he kind of fell off and wasn’t finishing up going the mile so they cut him back to sprinting.

“He is a horse that has some of his allowance conditions left, so I think it’s definitely a nice spot,” she added. “In the springtime here at Laurel we’re able to breeze on the grass and even when we breezed him going into the [last] race, I really wanted to talk to David about stretching him back out. After that race, he was on board with trying it. Hopefully it is the right direction.”

Previously trained by Eurton, Tom Amoss and William Morey, Storm the Court joined Gaudet in the spring at Laurel, where he had his first timed work May 8. He returned to the races June 7, his first start in nearly three months, and ran third in an optional claiming allowance sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the Laurel grass, beaten a neck for second. Jockey Mychel Sanchez, aboard that day, returns to ride from Post 5.

“We switched around some equipment and put the blinkers on. Maybe we put too much blinker on him last time. This horse is game, so I wish that the rider had kind of stayed on the inside a little bit. I think he would have been game to go up,” Gaudet said. “He lost a little bit of ground going out around them. He kind of flattened out going to the wire, but when [Sanchez] stood up and took a hold of him and let him gallop out, he just galloped out like a monster.

“That’s what he’s done in a couple of his breezes in the morning. That was the one thing that we wanted to try. Even Mychel talked about it. Open the blinkers up [and] I think he can go long,” she added. “The one mile I think should be perfect. It’s not too far but it’s definitely getting him back around two turns that, hopefully, he’ll be happy with.”

Storm the Court won two of his first four starts capped by the Breeders’ Cup, and since has run second or third eight times placing in races such as the San Felipe (G2) and Ohio Derby (G3) on dirt, La Jolla Handicap (G3) and Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) on turf, and also finishing sixth in the Covid-delayed 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1). Overall, he has a record of 2-4-5 with purse earnings of $1,412,753 from 26 starts at 10 different racetracks in eight states.

“David likes to kind of give me projects. There’s been a couple of times where we’ve claimed some horses that look completely off the wall. David picks these horses and sees if I’m on board, and I’m always up for a challenge,” Gaudet said. “We’ve had some success in the past, and he thought this horse was ready for a change of scenery.

“He was in Florida for the winter but I think when he got back to Kentucky it was hard to get a spot for him, and we have an abundance of turf out here,” she added. “I think it’s along their lines of thinking that at his age he is primarily turf. I don’t know that he needs it all the time, but that’s where we’re going to keep him, and I think stretching him back out will be good for him.”

In his final tune-up for Friday Storm the Court, who has raced 13 times each on turf and dirt, fired a bullet half-mile work in 51.60 seconds June 30 over the Laurel grass. Gaudet is excited about getting him back in action and, hopefully, back in the winner’s circle.

“I know that initially when we got him, the owners’ goal is definitely to try and finish out the season and try and get him back on form and hopefully get a couple of wins before the end of the turf season or end of the year and then try and find him a soft place to land as a stallion prospect,” she said. “Those are the things that we’re going to try and get done. He’s not really off form, but we would love to get him to win again.”

Meanwhile, Gaudet has been enjoying the experience of having a horse with Storm the Court’s presence and resume in her barn.

“He’s awesome. He is a beautiful individual. He just has so much class. He’s still a stud so he is a big, burly colt. I sent the owners a video yesterday, we had him out in the round pen rolling on the shank,” Gaudet said. “He’s just such a kind horse to be around. He’s really been a pleasure to have and train and watch kind of settle in, and I hope improve a little bit. Being able to look back at all the pictures of him from his early career and everything like that has been really neat.”

Favored at 9-5 on the morning line is Amo Racing USA’s 5-year-old Sir London. Neck winner of a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance March 30 at Gulfstream Park, the Graham Motion trainee was seventh, beaten less than three lengths, in a next-level spot going 1 1/8 miles May 2, his most recent start.

Also in the field are 2021 Maryland Million Turf Sprint winner Grateful Bred, 2022 and 2023 Maryland Million Turf winner Wicked Prankster, multiple stakes-placed Crisper and Street Copper, and Where’s Ray, Wine Collector, Wish Me Home and Minister for Magic.

Friday’s co-feature is a second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track in Race 8. The 2-1 program favorite is the Jamie Ness-trained entry of four-time winners Uninvited Guest and Search Engine. Two-time stakes winner Armando R is also entered.

There will be carryovers of $3,648.26 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) and $1,036.50 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) wagers.

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