Mile: Get Stormy a wild ride in the morning

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Get Stormy won, and he knew it, so when Ramon Dominguez made like a rodeo rider and tried to vault back into the saddle after a workout Friday, the Grade I winner cantered off like a bad pony with Dominguez scrambling back into his tack.

The scene was funny, afterward, back at the barn, safe, sound and another step closer to next week’s Bernard Baruch Stakes.

“I had one shot to get back on him,” said the jockey. “If I don’t make it, he’s going to get away from me.”

The jockey did, the horse didn’t. All was well. Then they bounced home – Get Stormy on his toes and jigging every step through the Horse Haven stable area, across Union Avenue, around the main track and past the Morning Line Kitchen despite a lead from a groom.

“He’s a great-feeling horse,” Dominguez said. “He’s so happy and when he’s finished working he takes a deep breath and wheels to the left. I’m mad at myself because I should have anticipated it and stayed on. Most horses are excited and ready on the way to the track. He’s the opposite. He’s relaxed going to the track. He comes back like a tiger.”

The fun started with a 6-furlong workout on the Oklahoma turf course Friday. As a stakes horse, Get Stormy drew a slot early before the crowds and worked 6 furlongs in 1:13 3/5. The flashy bay looked relaxed yet strong, with extended strides and his typical, low, flat finish. Dominguez barely moved during the work. Afterward, Get Stormy stopped, juked quickly and sent his rider to the turf. Dominguez landed on his feet and kept the reins in his hands. Faced with trying to control the 5-year-old from the ground or getting back aboard, Dominguez chose the latter and jumped.

“I’m glad it happened behind that (steeplechase) fence so I couldn’t see it all,” trainer Tom Bush said afterward. “He can do that. That’s the colt in him.”

Bush designed the relatively long work as a tightener for the 9-furlong Baruch Aug. 26. Get Stormy won the Baruch and the Fourstardave last year at Saratoga, but missed the July 31 Fourstardave with a tendon issue.

“He doesn’t run away from the pole anyway so even though I tacked an eighth on to the work, he really worked five-eighths (1:00.15 unofficially) and galloped out,” Bush said. “I just wanted to make sure he was running along a little bit when he hit the five-eighths pole. That’s why I went three-quarters. We’ve got a little concern in the back of our mind about the conditioning, coming off that long a layoff and going a mile and an eighth.”

Bush went through every trainer’s nightmare in the days leading up to the Fourstardave. Get Stormy had to pull up early in a work July 25 because of a loose horse, then came up with some filling in his right front leg. The injury was visible, but the horse was sound.

An ultrasound by Dr. Annette Larue confirmed no damage to the tendon itself, but found swelling around the tendon and the Palmar nerve. Bush thinks the injury happened in the earlier work, but was glad for the more mild diagnosis as opposed to actual tendon damage.

“I went in to check him like I do every day, I had put him in the race, had him entered,” Bush said. “On the outside edge of the tendon I could see the bump. He didn’t flinch when you palpated it, but clearly he had a little profile there. I never saw anything like that with him.”

Bush blamed the injury partially on Get Stormy’s size 8 hind shoes and long hind-leg over-reach. The trainer figures the horse most likely rapped his right front leg with his right hind leg. Three days of rest, treatment and anti-inflammatory medication reduced the swelling and the ultrasound confirmed that the tendon itself had not been damaged – despite what it looked like at first examination.

“We measured the tendon and looked at the fibers, you could see everything looked perfect,” Bush said. “It was within normal parameters of what you want it to look like. If it had been wider diameter-wise in the area where we saw the profile, then we would have been concerned. It’s important to rescan it because if the tendon had been smaller on the re-scan, after the medication, that would have meant there was some inflammation in the tendon body. We got lucky.”

Get Stormy has won 10 of 23 starts for owner/breeder Mary Sullivan’s Sullimar Stable, including three Saratoga stakes scores and Grade I wins this year in the Maker’s Mark at Keeneland and Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs. The $1.1 million earner finished third in his most recent start, the Grade III Monmouth Stakes June 12.

“In the Bernard Baruch last year, I had the Fourstardave, and when I ran in the Woodford Reserve at Churchill I ran in the Maker’s Mark three weeks before,” said Bush. “The mile and an eighth seems to be his maximum distance. Am I concerned about that off an 11-week layoff? Yeah, I am a little bit.”

Then again, his horse looked as rusty as a new Camaro Friday morning.

“Awesome, beautiful, he felt great and galloped out real strong,” Dominguez said. “Going to the pole he’s like a pony, you can handle him with one hand. Afterward, it’s very different.”