Gormley upsets Klimt in eventful FrontRunner
Winner of his Del Mar debut by 4 1/4 lengths, the Malibu Moon colt successfully stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and comfortably defeated Klimt by three lengths in a time of 1:43.57 over a fast track.
A situation at the start seemingly aided Jerry and Ann Moss' colt. Leaving the gate rider-less was Secret House, subsequently declared a non-starter, who kept second choice Straight Fire wide and unable to grab the early lead. Breaking from the rail and surely noticing what was transpiring, jockey Victor Espinoza then urged Gormley to seize the advantage entering the first turn.
"I was really surprised. Like anything you go into it with a plan, but when that gate opens, everything can change. I originally wanted to take back a little bit and let him run in the end but next thing I know, something happened to the three horse. I was on the rail and didn't want to take him back then, so I let him run."
Setting a sensible pace of :23.72, :47.18 and 1:11.48, Gormley shook off the pressing Midnight Pleasure and had plenty to fend off an unlucky Straight Fire and a belated Klimt, the Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner who attempted to rally from far off the pace. Trained by John Shirreffs, Gormley paid $23.60.
Klimt was the third odds-on favorite to lose a Breeders' Cup prep on Saturday, following Flintshire in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) and Runhappy in the Ack Ack (G3). Sent off at 3-10, Klimt was 4 1/2 lengths clear of Straight Fire in the strung-out field.
"He got pretty far back early, and that gave him a lot to do," said trainer Bob Baffert of Klimt. "He just didn't fire away from the gate, didn't break like we were hoping he would. But he ran a good race -- he closed. We know he can handle the distance. This will sharpen him for the next one. I think he got a lot out of it today. He got a lot of dirt in his face and handled it pretty well. The quality is there -- it just needs to come out of him."
The first foal out of the stakes-winning Bernstein mare Race to Urga, Gormley counts as his second dam the French classic-placed, stakes winner Miss Mambo. His fourth dam was 1986 champion turf mare Estrapade.
Gormley was bred in Kentucky by Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate.
(Scott Shapiro photo)