Got Stormy rides a three-race losing streak heading into the Grade 3, $150,000 Poker Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park. Although the 5-year-old mare trained by Mark Casse may rebound and pull out another popular win against males, she carries a large amount of support wherever she goes and that leads to short odds.
At this point, it is hard to accept short odds on Got Stormy after losses at 1/5, even money and 8/5 in her last three starts. The race also contains two Chad Brown-trained entries in Valid Point and Value Proposition, and both of them are young 4-year-olds with a high ceiling.
Why take Got Stormy as the favorite against them? Think about how Got Stormy lost her three recent races.
In the Endeavour Stakes (G3), Got Stormy stalked the pace in third, before moving into second on the far turn and flattening out in the stretch to fourth.
The concerning part is that she failed to threaten the leader at any point. Even when Got Stormy moved into second on the turn, she did not come closer than three lengths of the pacesetter and eventual winner Jehozacat. Got Stormy managed to narrow down the margin to two lengths late, but she also let Altea and Andina Del Sur pass her.
In fairness, Got Stormy does not enjoy 1 1/16 miles. For her next start, she cut back and took on males again in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1).
This time, she fared better. Got Stormy pressed the pacesetter Kingly through a 23.15 opening quarter and 46.49 half-mile, before attacking on the turn and reaching the lead.
At the top of the stretch, Got Stormy looked like a winner.
However, River Boyne rallied through the inside and surprisingly outkicked Got Stormy to pick up the win. Also, Next Shares almost caught Got Stormy for second, only missing the spot by a head.
From the small part of the gallop out shown on the replay, Got Stormy was tired. She did not resemble the Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up.
Some handicappers might shrug off the loss at Santa Anita. After all, she ran second in an open Grade 1 race. Last year, she was second in the Woodbine Mile (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Mile, two open races.
But in the Kilroe Mile, Got Stormy lost to River Boyne, who had run third in an ungraded turf stakes at Turf Paradise only two starts earlier.
Back at the 1 1/16-mile distance, Got Stormy then tried the local Beaugay Stakes (G3) last month. After tracking a quality pacesetter in Rushing Fall, Got Stormy faded in the stretch to fourth, falling a disappointing six lengths behind the winner as Call Me Love and Passing Out also passed Got Stormy in the lane to complete the trifecta.
Got Stormy did not even fight in the stretch. She lost significant ground, which is different from her other attempts at 1 1/16 miles.
If Got Stormy is the favorite, it is hard to justify betting her based on those losses. Sharp recent form is a requirement for a low price.
Of the two Chad Brown entries, Valid Point is the more interesting alternative option. He started his career with three straight wins, including the Secretariat Stakes (G1) last summer against 3-year-olds.
After the Secretariat victory, Valid Point tackled older horses in the Shadwell Mile (G1). He finished 10th, but watch the stretch run.
At the top of the stretch, Valid Point traveled in the middle.
He had some run to offer, but the gray horse Bandua faded into his path and Van Beethoven came out slightly to stop his momentum.
Given Valid Point faced older horses for the first time and experienced traffic troubles in the stretch, the off-the-board effort is forgivable.
As a 4-year-old colt, perhaps Valid Point is stronger and more mature now and ready to fire a big one to start off a major campaign. From Post 2, he can settle into the pocket position and stay close to the pace.
Value Proposition enters the Poker off a local optional claiming win by one length over Cross Border last month. Months prior to that race, Cross Border had run second in the W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3).
Last year, Value Proposition did finish a disappointing seventh in the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3). But he also broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths and took a Saratoga optional claimer to offer some promise.
In Value Proposition’s return win, the only notable part about his trip is that he fought Irad Ortiz Jr.’s hold in the initial stages, before settling down and closing for the win. He did need to work a bit in the stretch.
Value Proposition makes his second start off the layoff, though, and horses move forward in their second or third start off the bench.
Value Proposition is another contender.
With all that said, if Got Stormy drifts up on the board off those losses and her odds become higher than Valid Point and Value Proposition, then perhaps she is the value. But if Got Stormy starts at a low price off those three flat efforts, she is ignorable as an overbet fan favorite.
Valid Point is the main horse to consider, as he owns more tactical speed than his stablemate Value Proposition and successful graded stakes experience. He is the one to rely on for win bets or on top of exotics, with Value Proposition a worthy second option in multi-race wagers.