Turning back in distance over an undulating Kentucky Downs course posed no difficulties for Got Stormy last month, but the star mare’s true sprint proclivities will be put to the test Friday when she shortens up even more, and over a more conventional layout, in the $150,000 Franklin County Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
Slow to hit her best stride earlier this season, trainer Mark Casse’s decision to focus on sprints this fall with the multiple Grade 1 winner got off to a good start following Got Stormy’s 3 1/4-length decision in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3) over soft ground. The 5 1/2-furlong Franklin County will serve as the 5-year-old’s lead-in to the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) over the same course and distance rather than the Mile (G1), in which she finished second to Uni last year.
“So for her to get a mile, she needs it extremely, extremely hard. And she hasn’t gotten that once this year,” said Casse in the aftermath of Got Stormy’s win at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 12. “I know she cannot go a mile at Keeneland in the fall. We know that.”
Winning Envelope and Into Mystic, who followed Got Stormy across the wire at Kentucky Downs, are back in opposition Friday. Ambassador Luna exits a 2 1/4-length score in the Unbridled Sidney S. at Churchill Downs over Tomlin and Change of Control, while the stakes-winning Stillwater Cove will attempt to win off a layoff of nearly a year for Wesley Ward.
A large chunk of the early pace could be provided by Surrender Now and Jakarta. The latter won a Claiming Crown prep at Kentucky Downs most recently, rebounding from a close second-place effort in the Caress S. at Saratoga.