It’s safe to say Storm the Court was a bargain at auction. Sold for $5,000 as a yearling and for $60,000 as a 2yo-in-training, the bay colt provided his connections with a hefty return on investment when he sprung a gate-to-wire upset victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita.
Coupled with on-the-board efforts in the San Felipe (G2) and Ohio Derby (G3) this season, Storm the Court’s Breeders’ Cup triumph has allowed the bay colt to qualify for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. But for all his talent, it remains to be seen whether running 1 1/4 miles on dirt is within Storm the Court’s wheelhouse.
|Storm the Court Pedigree|
|Storm the Court|
|My Tejana Storm|
From a pedigree perspective, you can make a case Storm the Court might prove best racing on grass. Certainly this was the case for his sire, Court Vision. Winner of the Iroquois (G3) and Remsen (G2) on dirt as a juvenile, Court Vision finished 13th in the 2008 Kentucky Derby before transitioning to grass, where he proved considerably more formidable. A five-time Grade 1 winner on the lawn, Court Vision is best remembered for his 64-1 upset in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), but he also showcased the necessary stamina to win the 2008 Hollywood Derby (G1) traveling 1 1/4 miles.
As a stallion, Court Vision has yet to set the world on fire, and his best foals have generally followed in his footsteps by demonstrating two-turn stamina on grass and synthetic surfaces. They include King and His Court, a three-time stakes winner over the Tapeta track at Woodbine, and Mr Havercamp, a three-time graded stakes winner on grass and Tapeta. Both have done their best running over 1 1/16 miles.
The bottom half of Storm the Court’s pedigree also hints at turf potential, though it’s a tougher read. Prior to Storm the Court’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, his first four dams had failed to produce a single stakes winner between them, likely a contributing factor to his inexpensive auction prices.
Storm the Court’s dam, My Tejana Storm, was a tried-and-true sprinter who won three races at the allowance/claiming level in Pennsylvania. As a broodmare, she previously produced a pair of multiple winners (Belleoftheprairie and He’s Great), but both emulated their dam as lower-level sprinters.
Belleoftheprairie was a versatile runner, winning twice on dirt and twice on turf while competing at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Perhaps some of her versatility was inherited from Tejano Run, sire of My Tejana Storm and broodmare sire of Storm the Court. Tejano Run was a four-time graded stakes winner on dirt and runner-up in the 1995 Kentucky Derby, but he also handled grass just fine while winning the 1996 Fort Harrod (G3) going a mile at Keeneland.
Tejano Run’s foals were likewise successful on multiple surfaces. One for Rose, a three-time champion older mare in Canada, won nine stakes races on dirt during her decorated career, including two editions of the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf (G3). In contrast, Dionisia was a classic winner in Italy, where she won the 2,200-meter Oaks d’Italia (G1) on grass in 2006. Shaws Creek and Anglian Prince weren’t quite as decorated, but they were still stout runners capable of winning stakes races over 1 1/16 miles or farther.
It’s also worth noting One for Rose has gone on to be a successful broodmare in Japan, where her foals Lady Alba Rosa, Angel Face, and Quatre Feuilles have all won Group 3 races traveling 1,800 meters on grass.
Can Storm the Court win the Kentucky Derby?
In short, there’s enough stamina in Storm the Court’s pedigree to suggest he can handle 1 1/4 miles. The multi-million-dollar question is whether he’s truly suited to racing on dirt. His pedigree suggests he might actually be a grass horse with enough talent and versatility to win quality juvenile races on dirt, similar to Court Vision.
This theory gained some credence when Storm the Court tackled turf in the Aug. 9 La Jolla H. (G3) at Del Mar, tracking the pace before finishing second in his best run of the season. If Storm the Court doesn’t pan out in the Kentucky Derby, he could always follow a life lesson from his sire and reinvent himself as a turf specialist.