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Got Stormy makes case for Eclipse Award with Matriarch Stakes win at Del Mar

Got Stormy makes case for Eclipse Award with Matriarch Stakes win at Del Mar

Mark Casse knows a thing or two about talented fillies, having trained the likes of Tepin, Wonder Gadot and Lexie Lou during a career that has spanned 43 years.

Casse, 58, began running his father’s training operation in 1976 at age 15 and received his training license in Massachusetts when he was 17, winning his first race at Keeneland with Joe’s Coming in 1979.

Safe to say, he’s gone on to have a successful career, earning the Sovereign Award as the top trainer in Canada 11 times. He’s won five Breeders’ Cup races and earned his first Triple Crown win with War of Will in this year’s Preakness.

Casse has another notable filly in his barn this year named Got Stormy, a 4-year-old daughter of Get Stormy who made a strong bid for an Eclipse Award this year as top grass filly with a strong showing in Sunday’s $ 300,000 Grade I Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar.

Got Stormy, with Tyler Gaffalione aboard, sat sixth through much of the one-mile race on the track’s Jimmy Durante Turf Course, moved into second at the top of the stretch and beat Daddy Is a Legend by three-quarters of a length as the 7-5 favorite.

It was Got Stormy’s fourth victory in eight starts this year, including a pair of Grade I stakes. She beat the boys in the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga on Aug. 10. Final time over a firm turf course was 1:34.24 — the fastest clocking in the Matriarch since it was first run at Del Mar in 2014. The race previously was held at Hollywood Park.

“She’s amazing,” Casse said of the winner. “Put her on a van, put her on a plane, she just goes wherever and runs. We kept hearing that she’d only won one Grade I, so we had to fix that. She’s been through a lot in the last month, but she just keeps fighting. You don’t get a lot like her.

“Casse said Got Stormy will “definitely stay in training next year.”

Gaffalione, who’s ridden Got Stormy in seven of her past eight races, had a premonition before the race.

“I told Mark in the paddock, ‘I think this race might set up just like the Fourstardave, and if it does, we’ll win,’” Gaffalione said. “Sure enough it was exactly like that race. Perfect. She just sat back there nice and relaxed and then when it came time she was gone.”

Daddy Is a Legend, the fifth betting choice at 5-1, finished second by three-quarters of a length over Juliet Foxtrot after an eventful trip.

“I got squeezed at the start and I just clipped the heels of (Giza Goddess) just a bit,” jockey Manuel Franco said. “Then I was too far back and there was too much to do. It was unfortunate.”

Got Stormy has won eight of 18 lifetime and the $ 180,000 winner’s share of the Matriarch hiked her career earnings to $ 1,430,578. She went into the Matriarch off a second-place finish behind Uni in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

The victory was Casse’s eighth stakes victory at Del Mar. Gaffalione won his first stakes race at the seaside oval.

In Sunday’s other two turf stakes races on closing day of the Bing Crosby fall meet:

— John Velazquez made the trip west worthwhile, winning the $ 200,000 Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup for the meet’s leading trainer, Richard Baltas, aboard 11-1 longshot Oscar Dominguez.

Oscar Dominguez, a 6-year-old gelded son of Zoffany, beat even-money favorite United by a neck, running the 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.17 for his sixth victory in 37 starts. It was his first victory over the Del Mar turf course in 10 tries.

— Smooth Like Strait, a 15-1 outsider with Geovanni Franco aboard, took the field gate to wire, winning the $ 100,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths for trainer Michael McCarthy.

The 2-year-old Midnight Lute colt ran the mile in 1:36.02 for his second victory in four tries. He went into the race off a 2 1/4-length victory in a maiden special weight on Oct. 31 at Santa Anita.

Press Enterprise