Trainer Neil Drysdale appears to have a star in Storming Home, who overcame some trouble to win Saturday's $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) on the Hollywood Park turf as the 3-10 favorite.
Owned by Sheik Maktoum bin Al Maktoum and ridden by Gary Stevens, Storming Home was five wide on the final turn as he launched his bid from near the back of the six-horse field. He hit the stretch still wide but came on to take the lead in mid-stretch and outrun 8-1 Mister Acpen to prevail by 3/4-length. Cagney was third, another half-length behind. The final time in the 1 1/4-mile Whittingham was 2:00 3/5 on a firm course.
Night Patrol, ridden by Tyler Baze, carved out fractions of :24 3/5, :48 4/5, 1:13 2/5 and 1:36 1/5 while leading into the stretch over Mister Acpen. Mister Acpen, ridden by Victor Espinoza, stalked the early pace, fell back briefly in the stretch but came back again to give Storming Home a battle to the wire.
Storming Home won his second straight start in the United States after racing in England for his first 19 starts. The 5-year-old English-bred son of Machiavellian won the $400,000 Jim Murray at Hollywood in his U.S. debut May 10. He owns a group I victory in England, the Champion Stakes at Newmarket in October.
Drysdale earned his fourth win in the Whittingham, who died in 1999. His other victories came in 1985, '88 and '00.
``Anytime Whittingham's name is brought up it means something to me,'' said Drysdale, a former assistant.
Overall, Storming Home has seven wins in 21 career outings. He picked up $210,000 for Saturday's triumph, pushing his career earnings to $1,335,588. Gainsborough Stud Management Ltd. in Britain bred Storming Home, whose dam is Try to Catch Me, by Shareef Dancer.
Storming Home paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Mister Acpen returned $4 and $2.10. Cagney, ridden by Mike Smith, paid $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $11.80. The winer's payoff was the lowest in the 35-year history of the Whittingham, previously known as the Hollywood Turf Handicap. The previous lowest win price was $2.80 on John Henry in 1981 and Erin's Isle in '83.