Meteor Storm Must Catch 'Star' in San Luis Rey

(from Santa Anita release)
If Meteor Storm is to successfully defend his title in Sunday's $200,000 San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 ½ miles on turf, he will have to catch front-runner Star Over The Bay.

Star Over The Bay carries top weight of 120 pounds in the field of 11, two more than Meteor Storm, a grade I winner who will be making his second start on the comeback trail.

Meteor Storm, a 6-year-old English-bred son of Bigstone trained by Wally Dollase, closed well to be fourth in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) on March 5, his first race in eight months.

Despite Meteor Storm's fondness for turf marathons, Dollase used the Kilroe as a starting point for Meteor Storm's 2005 debut, as no other options were available. But the trainer has been pointing to the San Luis Rey and the San Juan Capistrano (gr. IIT) at about 1 ¾ miles on turf on April 16 for some time.

The Mike Mitchell-conditioned Star Over The Bay is the one to catch. The gray 7-year-old gelded son of Cozzene has three graded stakes wins since Mitchell took him for $80,000 in a claiming race May 16. His most recent win came in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 29.

Star Over The Bay has a 10-4-3 record from 41 starts with earnings of $913,353. Meteor Storm has a 6-3-3 log from 16 starts with earnings of $663,884.

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel sends out two San Luis Rey starters in quest of his first victory in the race. The most intriguing entrant is Kurm, an Irish-bred colt that will be making his first U.S. start. A group 1 winner in France, Kurm has won four of eight career starts. Frankel's other entrant, Epicentre, seeks a return to winning form after finishing eighth of nine in his last two races.

$200,000 San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT), 4 & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Gorylla, Francisco Duran, 112
2. Californian, Modesto Linares, 112
3. Star Over The Bay, Tyler Baze, 120
4. Epicentre, Rene Douglas, 115
5. Stanley Park, Gary Stevens, 113
6. Continental Red, Garrett Gomez, 115
7. Meteor Storm, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118
8. T.H. Approval, Kent Desormeaux, 114
9. Freddy, Dionicio Navarro, 113
10. Balestrini, Mike Smith, 114
11. Kurm, Corey Nakatani, 115