Stormin Away, trained by Jeff Mullins for Joey and Wendy Platts, won the Round Table Handicap at 1 3/4 miles on the Hollywood lawn June 16. He will travel 12 furlongs over the Lakeside Turf Course on Sunday under jockey Martin Garcia, who seeks his first graded stakes victory.
The 66th running of the Sunset is slated as the ninth of eleven races on the closing-day program. The action begins at 1:20 p.m. with the $75,000 Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap, also on the turf at six furlongs.
Stormin Away, who finished sixth while testing graded company two starts back in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT), captured the Val Royal at Hollywood last December and won an allowance race while making his 2007 debut on March 31 at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old gray/roan gelding has won eight of 26 starts for earnings of $367,223.
He has some tough veterans to contend with Sunday, led by 8-year-old gray/roan Runaway Dancer, who will be starting in the race for the fourth consecutive year.
The Dan Hendricks trainee finished in a dead heat for second two years ago, his best effort in the race. Winner of the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) in 2005, he enters the Sunset with seven wins in 38 starts for earnings of $692,044. He finished third in the Round Table, a loss Solis blamed on himself for not pursuing a slow pace. Solis has held a hot hand in the Sunset and will be aiming for an unprecedented third straight win Sunday.
Fitz Flag, a 7-year-old Argentine-bred trained by Juan Reviriego, finished fourth in last start June 9 in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles. He has earned checks in four consecutive starts in graded races and should make his presence felt in the Sunset. He enters with five wins in 18 starts for earnings of $151,779.
The Washington-bred Bright Prediction, claimed two starts back for $10,000, won for a tag of $35,000 at 11/4 miles on July 1 and steps up in class. Rush Rush faces tougher after winning an allowance race May 28 at 1 1/4 miles on turf.
$150,000 Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Bright Prediction (WA), 110, Joseph Talamo
2. Spring House (KY), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
3. Stormin Away (FL), 119, Martin Garcia
4. Fitz Flag (ARG), 114, G. F. Almeida
5. Rush Rush (KY), 112, Michael C. Baze
6. Runaway Dancer (KY), 117, Alex O. Solis