By Joe Bianca
In the fall of 2016, trainer Peter Eurton saddled a big longshot in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita who rode a game upset to an improbable divisional championship. Three years later, he did the same thing, this time with an unheralded colt in the Juvenile, whose shocking and resolute victory propelled him to an unforeseeable Eclipse Award of his own. Eurton hopes the comparisons end there, however, as his Storm the Court (Court Vision) prepares to get his sophomore season underway while adding the weight of expectation next Sunday in the GII San Vicente S.
It was Champagne Room–campaigned in part by Ryan Exline and Justin Border's Exline-Border Racing just like Storm the Court–who toppled the Juvenile Fillies at 33-1 in 2016 to earn her statuette. But the bay filly finished a well-beaten third in her 3-year-old debut and was shelved for over seven months before winning just one of her final three starts that fall.
“They have to stay healthy, and unfortunately 'Champagne' came up with a foot fracture, mild, very minor, and that kind of stopped us in our tracks,” Eurton said. “We were pretty excited about her going forward.”
That level of excitement has been rekindled for Storm the Court, a double-digit price in all four of his career outings who set a fast pace and kept finding through the stretch to score the biggest shocker of Breeders' Cup weekend at over 45-1. Given seven weeks off after that, the $60,000 OBS April bargain returned to the worktab Dec. 22 and hasn't missed a beat since, drilling six times at his Santa Anita base, most recently covering five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 (10/48) Jan. 26.
“I just thought it would be good for him to not do much after the Breeders' Cup and freshen up, maybe grow a little bit,” Eurton said. “He is a May foal, and I believe he's maybe grown an inch or so. He never was short or anything, he's always been kind of leggy, not a real thick individual, but I think he has filled out a bit. He's close to 1100 pounds now, whereas some of these 3-year-olds you see are well in the high 11s, 1200s, so he's not what you'd call big in thickness, but he's tall and leggy.”
As for Storm the Court's seemingly out-of-nowhere victory in the Breeders' Cup, Eurton noted that even he was slightly taken aback based on what he'd seen from the colt in the mornings.
“We always thought that the company he was working with was better than him, but he was such a cool cat that he never showed you all of his cards until he actually ran,” he said. “He was always fast, but there were always questions on how far he would go. Any time you get a horse with that kind of talent, it's always gratifying, absolutely, to surprise you the way that he did.”
Returning in the seven-furlong San Vicente, his first one-turn outing since losing his jockey when favored Eight Rings (Empire Maker) veered into him at the start of the GI Runhappy Del Mar Futurity, Storm the Court has gone from the hunter to the hunted.
“It's fun, obviously you like to be the dark horse nobody even pays attention to, but it's also fun to be 'the' horse too, because he's done something to deserve it,” Eurton said. “It's got good and bad on both [sides]. We're just going to enjoy it and see what happens. It's seven eighths, he doesn't have to win it, but it's a good race to get him started in. It used to be done a lot more often than it is now, starting off [at seven furlongs], but it worked out timing-wise for me.”
Eurton said Storm the Court will have one more workout this Sunday for the San Vicente, and he hasn't mapped out anything beyond that, but is open to putting his pupil on a plane for one of his following preps if he decides it's part of the most optimal path to Louisville.
“Just one race at a time, don't have a clue yet [what's next], I know there's a lot of options and I have no issue with shipping him once if we have to, or staying here,” he said. “I just want him to be the best he can be in the first week of May if that works out for us.”