Stormello, right, holds off a storming Liquidity to win the Hollywood Futurity, Saturday at Hollywood Park.

Stormello, right, holds off a storming Liquidity to win the Hollywood Futurity, Saturday at Hollywood Park.


Stormello Streaks to Hollywood Futurity Win

Stormello rebounded from a disappointing try in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) six weeks ago to capture the $441,500 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) in a gutsy effort Saturday.

Making his debut on synthetic track under jockey Kent Desormeaux, Stormello made all the fractions but needed to rally in the stretch along the inside after being headed and passed by the 15-1 outsider Liquidity, who produced a grand fight with David Flores in the irons. Stormello regained the advantage at the sixteenth pole and finished a neck in front under a full drive, stopping the clock in a solid 1:42.

Co-owner and breeder along with Al Eisman, William Currin trains the leggy chestnut colt by Stormy Atlantic --Wilshewed (Carson City), the late-rallying winner of the Norfolk Breeders' Cup (gr. II) by a neck at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meeting a month prior to the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. In the Juvenile, Stormello was sent off at nearly 10-1, fought for the lead through swift fractions, and tired to finish fifth - beaten nearly 16 lengths by Street Sense.

"I gave Kent a picture of the Norfolk," Currin said. "It showed the horse on the outside, and I said, 'no instructions, here's the picture.' Instead he's on the lead and he maintains the lead. And when he's challenged, he has to re-break. Signs of a very, very good horse. I'm so thrilled.

"I didn't expect to be on the lead," Currin added. "Kent said he was going so easy, he didn't dare disturb him. I think he'll be a champion horse."

Though he was making his racing debut on Hollywood's Cushion Track, Stormello has drilled smartly over the surface since the Juvenile, including a mile work in 1:38 1/5 on Dec. 5.

Sent off as the second choice in the field of 10, Stormello bulled his way to the lead and set the pace by 1 1/2 lengths heading into the clubhouse turn. He maintained his advantage as Liquidity, a maiden winner, pressed in second through fractions of :23 2/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 3/5.

Principle Secret and Roman Commander stalked in third and fourth. Stormello and Liquidity separated themselves from the rest of the field at the top of the lane and put on a terrific show with Stormello reaching the wire just in front.

"He got passed in the lane, and I sincerely thought he was beat at that point and was going to be second," said Desormeaux, who shipped his tack east earlier this year and traveled from New York for the mount.

"He found it in him somewhere to grind it out big and find some more and catch the horse that was leading him at the sixteenth pole."

Desormeaux rode Afternoon Deelites and Real Quiet to Futurity wins in 1994 and 1997, respectively.

Stormello established himself as an early contender for the 2007 Triple Crown races with his first grade I victory.

Six Hollywood Futurity graduates have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), including Real Quiet, who came within a nose of winning the 1998 Triple Crown.

"He wanted to go play on the lead today," Desormeaux said. "I just dropped the lines and let him find a comfortable pace where he would be happy. And the happy horse was the fast horse today."

"On the turn, we really took off. It was the first time that I tapped him. He went from slowing down to full acceleration."

Liquidity, starting for the fourth time, seemed poised to post an upset at the head of the stretch.

"I thought I had him at the eighth pole," Flores said. "He got a little tired, but he was trying hard to come back. When I got up to (Stormello), I thought he was going to go right by, but it seems like (Desormeaux) had a lot of horse left.

"The horse was looking around. He was riding him, but it looked like he had a lot of horse."

It was 1 1/4 lengths back to 36-1 shot Roman Commander, with Alex Solis aboard, nosing 2-1 choice Belgravia for third. Stalking in fourth for the first half mile, Roman Commander shuffled all the way back to eighth before rallying three deep on the far turn and getting up for the show spot.

Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) winner Belgravia, ridden by Julien Leparoux from the far outside post, was wide on the first turn while racing from near the rear of the pack and rallied mildly late. Belgravia lost for the first time in three starts.

"He ran good," trainer Patrick Biancone said of Belgravia. "He's a young horse. Today gave him some experience. We haven't lost the war yet."

The victory was the third in seven starts this year for the blossoming Stormello, who earned $264,900. He nearly doubled his bankroll to $545,100.

Stormello paid $8.80, $4.60, and $3.80 and topped a $91.20 exacta.

J. Paul Reddam's Liquidity, who ran ninth in the Champagne (gr. I) in October, returned $13 and $9 in his first start with blinkers for trainer Doug O'Neill.

Roman Commander, who won Hollywood's Real Quiet over Liquidity Nov. 4, was $11.20 to show.

Belgravia finished three parts of a length in front of Silent Soul, who was followed by Notional, Unusual Suspect, Principle Secret, Senior, and Whatsthescript.

(Chart, Equibase)