A Star in the Making? Stormy Embrace Crushes Princess Rooney Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 1st, 2018

Look out, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint contenders—there’s a new female sprinter in the spotlight, and she’s fast. Seriously fast.

If you had never heard of Stormy Embrace prior to her blowout win in Saturday’s Princess Rooney Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, you can be forgiven. The four-year-old daughter of Circular Quay had run but once before in graded stakes company, finishing ninth in the 2017 Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico. And while she did enter the Princess Rooney off of a win in the Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream, bettors overlooked her in the Princess Rooney wagering and allowed her to start at 15-1.

Suffice to say, Stormy Embrace made those odds seem like a serious mistake. With Wilmer Garcia in the saddle for trainer Kathleen O’Connell, Stormy Embrace flew out of the starting gate like a mare on a mission and sprinted clear of her rivals through an opening quarter-mile in :22.79 seconds. The four-time stakes winner Ms Locust Point—no slouch herself—tried to keep up, but lost ground as Stormy Embrace accelerated through a second quarter-mile in :22.46, carrying her past the half-mile pole in :45.25.

Then, in a matter of seconds, the race was over. With a breathtaking turn-of-foot, Stormy Embrace blew the doors off her rivals, bursting clear with authority and opening up a 6 ½-length lead through six furlongs in 1:08.97, significantly faster than the time of 1:09.61 posted by the talented X Y Jet in the Smile Sprint Stakes (gr. III) half an hour later. Even better, Stormy Embrace continued to pour on her speed in the final furlong, cruising home six lengths in front while stopping the clock for seven furlongs in a rapid 1:21.81.
Rich Mommy and My Miss Tapit rallied from the back of the pack to finish second and third, but neither threatened the runaway winner, who earned a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in November at Churchill Downs.

In a division that has thus far lacked a clear leader, Stormy Embrace is an intriguing new face with a very bright future. Her record going seven furlongs is not to be underestimated; she’s now won three straight races over the distance, as well as four of her five starts overall this year. Whether or not you were familiar with her before the Princess Rooney is unimportant; the important thing is that you keep an eye on her throughout the summer and fall, since it appears that Stormy Embrace could be poised for a very big season.