Spring Stormtrooper Does Whatever it Takes in Thunder Road

Thunder Road (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
April 29, 2017  

Spring Stormtrooper finally turned the tables on General Opus, as well as everyone else in the sixth running of the Thunder Road on Saturday.   The Stald Gullis trained gelding did not mess around in this race, and went right to the front, and never looked back as he would wire the field.  That might make the result sound easy, but there’s no doubt that the trainer had concern with the hard charge of Whatever Man and the two of them seemingly hitting the line together.  The initial reaction in our virtual world may have been to say “dead heat, again”, but after the stewards evaluated the photo, Spring Stormtooper had just barely been ahead of Whatever Man to pick up the victory, in what was essentially a two-horse race with the way it eventually played out.  It is the first win the stake for both Stald Gullis, and the jockey, V Espinoza.  Congratulations to them!  The time of victory was 1:33.00, the quickest of the four editions of the race where the conditions were identical.  Let’s look at how it went down!

1/4 Mile (:23.55)- Heartbreak Attention (Stald Gullis) was the quickest of everyone out of the gate, but it did not take long for his winning stablemate, Spring Stormtrooper to take the lead.  He would run with a concerted push and lead by a little over a length as the field moved into the opening turn.  Heartbreak Attention dropped to third.  Also starting well was the gritty John Henry veteran, Whatever Man.  His consistent early stride allowed him to be second in the early, running two lanes to the outside of Spring Stormtrooper.  Its Geek To Me (Nakamura Stables) was also involved in the early going, running fourth along the rail and being within two lengths.  Then, we dropped to the pack, three lengths or more back.  Lucky Tiz (Delta Farms), Pump Action Shotgun (Maxmillion Farm), and Minnesota Moni (The Sidley Stud) ran three wide, with Trotsky (Asgar) a length behind them.  Generals Opus (Mb Stables) brought up the rear.

½ Mile (:46.56)- On the front end, Spring Stormtrooper picked up a little bit over the second quarter of the race, and only Whatever Man seemed to respond with the similar push.   Spring Trooper still led Whatever Man by a little over a length, but the separation to everyone else was becoming larger.  Its Geek To Me and Heartbreak Attention still battled for third, but were now three lengths out. As for the second half of the field, you kind of had the impression that they were expecting Spring Stormtrooper to fall back to them at the end.  They maintained the same positions as they had been in previously.  Post-time favorite Generals Opus still trailed, with six and a half length deficit to the front.

3/4 Mile (1:09.38)- At this point, it’s a two horse race.   As we moved into the top of the stretch Spring Stormtrooper and Whatever Man have given the field the slip and prepared to settle the race between them.  Spring Stormtrooper continued to lead and continued to fight, but Whatever Man started to claw into the lead just a little bit.  You then have to go back five lengths to third place Its Geek To Me.  There was no push coming from anyone in the pack, and the only people paying attention to any of that at this point were either their respective owners, or those with an interest in the trifecta.

Finish (1:33.00)- Spring Stormtrooper and Whatever Man have at it with a terrific stretch battle between the two of them.  Spring Stormtrooper was doing everything he could to hang on while Whatever Man just kept getting slightly closer with every stride.   The battle was fantastic, knowing it could go either way, and when they hit the line together, there was no one in attendance who could say with certainty that they knew who won.  A tight photo was evaluated, and Spring Stormtrooper proved to be ever so slightly ahead of Whatever Man to pick up the win! The battle for third, for those with a vested interest in the well-paying trifecta, was good as well between Pump Action Shotgun and Trotsky, but it was clearly only a battle for third and nothing more as both of them waited too long to show their true potential. Pump Action Shotgun would prevail there. Generals Opus made a late push to be 5th, but never made Spring Stormtrooper even realize he was in the field.  Its Geek To Me, Minnesota Moni, Lucky Tiz, and Heartbreak Attention round out the order of finish.

About the winner: Spring Stormtrooper, ridden to victory by V Espinoza and trained by Stald Gullis, is a three year old gelding by Laffin Stormtrooper and out of Spring Season.  He was bred in Kentucky by Stald Gullis as a yearling and they have been together throughout! Congratulations to the connections!  With his third victory in eight starts, his career earnings now sit at $266.800.


##   Horse Name Owner Name Jockey Odds   Fin Time SRF 
  Spring Stormtrooper Stald Gullis Espinoza V 9.45   1no 1:33.00 — 
  Whatever Man John Henry Gutierrez Mario 10.20   22 1:33.01 — 
  Pump Action Shotgun Maxmillion Farm Maldonado E 7.05   3nk 1:33.52 — 
  Trotsky Asgar Nakatani C S 9.80   41 1:33.57 — 
  Generals Opus Mb Stables Bejarano R 2.75   5nk 1:33.83 — 
  Its Geek To Me Nakamura Stables Prat F 5.10   63/4 1:33.89 — 
  Minnesota Moni The Sidley Stud Desormeaux K J 5.85   71 1:34.08 — 
  Lucky Tiz Delta Farms Smith M E 5.15   8no 1:34.31 — 
  Heartbreak Attention Stald Gullis Solis A O 24.15   9 1:34.33 — 

Track: Firm

Time: :232  :462  1:091  1:33

$2 Mutuel Prices:

6 – Spring Stormtrooper 20.90 9.20 6.80
7 – Whatever Man   12.20 7.20
3 – Pump Action Shotgun     6.10

$1 Exacta: 6 – 7 Paid 103.00

$1 Trifecta: 6 – 7 – 3 Paid 674.40

Scratched: None

— NS

Categories: Grade III, STAKES ARTICLES

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