Sunday, September 18, 2011

First turf, first win: Ravello Storm follows family lead

After two unplaced efforts on dirt at Delaware Park, the connections of Ravello Storm sent him to Belmont Park and a date with $20,000 maiden-claimers on the grass.

Sent off at 11-1, the horse won in good style, and perhaps should have been expected to. After all, the son of Stormy Atlantic-Wave On, by Caveat, had five prior turf winners among his elder siblings, including Colonial Turf Cup-G3 and Poker S.-G3 victor SAILOR'S CAP and La Habra Stakes-placed Royal Wave. (Sailor's Cap was one of my favored horses of the past few years, and tragically died of Colitis-X as a 4-year-old.)

On Saturday at Belmont, Ravello Storm was treated by bettors like an outsider in a field that appeared to be wide-open. But unlike his dirt efforts, when Ravello Storm was never really in contention, on this day he bolted to the lead straight from the gate beneath Cornelio Velasquez. Tracked by 5/2 favorite Knockout through tepid opening fractions of 26.25 and 48.41.

Ravello Storm briefly surrendered the lead to 29-1 long-shot Pernice after a quickened six furlongs run in 1:09.90, disposed of that rival by the top of the stretch, then found another gear to discourage all others. He won in 1:44.78 for a mile and a sixteenth, 2 3/4 lengths clear of of Allen's Star.

Ravello Storm is owned by Lee Lewis and trained by Mark Hennig. He was bred in Kentucky by Lanni Bloodstock LLC, John Zolezzi, Westport Management and J. Smithwick. With a win from three starts, he has earned $13,330.

I shortlisted Ravello Storm as a Priority 1 horse when seeking bargain-minded prospects for a client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. The horse breezed 11-flat at a sale where that was at least average, and my biggest complaint about him upon visual inspection at the barn was that he just didn't seem very alert. Run through the ring as Hip 388, the dark bay colt didn't meet his reserve price, but sold privately before leaving the grounds for a reported $35,000.

Ravello Storm becomes the 108th prospect to break maiden from my 187-horse list of 2-year-old prospects in 2010. That's 57.8 percent. Those Maryland prospects from which Ravello Storm emerged as a group cost (or were RNAs) for about half the price of the sales average, but 42 have now started (87.5 percent) and he is the 26th to win (54.2 percent of all EASMAY selections, 61.9 percent of those to race).

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