With his distinctive wide white blaze and athletic build, Get Stormy never lacks for attention whenever passerbys see the son of Stormy Atlantic on the track or lounging in his stall.
"He's a very beautiful horse and he gets a lot of attention because of his looks, so he's kind of a star," trainer Tom Bush said of the 5-year-old horse.
Just as there is no denying Get Stormy's striking looks, there was also no doubt who the best horse was during the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland on Friday.
The handsome but hard-trying Get Stormy is officially an accomplished pretty boy after wiring seven rivals to take the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile by 23/4 lengths and earn his first career Grade I triumph.
Never miss a local story.
Owned and bred by Mary Sullivan, Get Stormy had four graded stakes triumphs to his credit prior to Friday, but Grade I glory had eluded him in three previous tries.
Something about Keene-land almost always sparks good feelings in Get Stormy. The 4-to-1 shot also earned his first graded stakes victory at the historic track, in the 2009 Grade III Bryan Station Stakes.
On Friday, he bounded to the lead out of post No. 4 under jockey Javier Castellano and was never seriously challenged. Workin for Hops held for second, with Society's Chairman third.
"He had just enough left to finish strong so we are very excited and pleased for him," said Sullivan, who maintains a small broodmare band of about five mares and only has a handful of horses in training. "He feels so good here, he loves Keeneland. He almost bucks the exercise rider off every morning."
Get Stormy ended his 2010 campaign on a tough note when he finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Mile behind champion Goldikova. His 2011 didn't start much better, with an eighth in the Grade III Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 9.
When the bay horse came home a good third in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Handicap on Feb. 5, Bush opted to give his protege a bit of a freshening and point him toward a journey to Lexington.
"We've been pointing for this race since that day," Bush said. "When he ran like he did in the Grade I at Gulfstream ... I knew it was a great effort and he got his confidence back."
Although Get Stormy got away with clicking off a half-mile in :49.31, the boggy nature of the rain-soaked Keeneland turf course made it hard to judge just how demanding the surface was actually playing.
Whatever concerns Bush might have had were answered as the field entered the stretch. After turning back Workin for Hops leaving the second turn, Get Stormy found another gear and opened up on his rivals, crossing the wire in 1:37.31.
"I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch," Castellano said. "I don't want to squeeze the lemon. I just asked my horse and he responded well and he took off."
Multiple Grade I winner Court Vision, who was sent off as the 7-to-5 favorite, finished fourth. Justin Sallusto was the trainer of record for the son of Gulch after his conditioner, Rick Dutrow Jr., was denied a racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Wednesday.
"I needed some pace up front, just a little more pace would have helped," said Robby Albarado, jockey of Court Vision.
Get Stormy improved his record to nine wins in 21 career starts and could resurface at Churchill Downs on May 7 in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
"I wouldn't rule it out, he's run well there before," Bush said. "He's just been wonderful, and to win a Grade I with him is really the icing on the cake."