Chilean-bred Total Impact rolled to his first United States stakes win in convincing style Saturday at Hollywood Park, winning the $150,00 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) at 1 1/16 mile by two lengths.
Ridden by Mike Smith for trainer Laura De Seroux, favored Total Impact gained the lead while three wide in the stretch and held off Fleetstreet Dancer in a time of 1:40 4/5. Piensa Sonando came from dead last in the eight-horse field in the stretch to gain third, six lengths behind the winner.
A 5-year-old chestnut horse by Stuka, Total Impact was coming off a stellar second-place effort, beaten by a head by Western Pride, in the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita on April 5. He was second to Essence of Dubai in the 2002 running of the UAE Derby.
Total Impact stalked the early pace in third behind Wooden Phone and Palmiero. Wooden Phone set out intent on getting the lead in an opening quarter of :23 but gave way to Palmiero, who led into the stretch while going :45 3/5 and 1:09 2/5 as Wooden Phone faded out of the picture to eventually be fifth.
Palmiero, who finished last, was collared by Total Impact, Sunday Break and Fleetstreet Dancer at the head of the stretch, but Sunday Break, the 3-1 second choice, failed to sustain his strong rally down the lane.
Total Impact, who won a grade I in Chile in 2001, registered his fourth win in 10 career outings while earning $90,000 for his owner partnership of Al Kabeer, Sultan Mohammed Saud and S.A. Bridport. He now has banked $596,388.
The winner paid $6, $3.60 and $2.80. Fleetstreet Dancer, ridden by Tyler Baze, returned $7 and $4.40. Piensa Sonando, with Alex Solis aboard, paid $4.40. The $2 exacta was worth $36.40.