Long-shot `Storm' tops field in Classic

Son of Storm Broker scores eighth career win

Maryland Million Day

October 14, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

The Maryland Million Day races are said to be for the little guy in Maryland racing. Yesterday, the $300,000 Classic was also for the little-known racehorse.

Evil Storm, an 11-to-1 long shot, saved ground along the rail early and then swung four-wide at the top of the stretch to overtake race favorite Five Steps and win by three lengths.

"We've been pointing to this race for a long time," owner and trainer Michael Gorham said via cell phone. "He ran the race last year and finished third while having a troubled trip. His misfortune has been that we never get to run him in the right spot, so he was lightly raced coming in."

On a beautiful autumn afternoon, the 22nd annual Maryland Million Day 12-race card that showcases the offspring of Maryland-based stallions was run before a record crowd of 26,788 at Laurel Park.

In the biggest race of the afternoon, Evil Storm covered the 1 3/16 miles on a fast dirt track in 1 minute, 58.19 seconds for jockey Jeremy Rose.

Evil Storm paid $25.20, $9 and $6.20.

"My horse ran a big race," Rose said. "He's a big, strong horse, and when he's right, this is the kind of race he can produce. Once we got the lead, we were able to keep it. I had plenty of horse."

Chris Grove, who trains Five Steps, who had not lost in three starts since returning from a 20-month injury layoff, said he was not disappointed.

"My horse ran a good race," Grove said.

Five Steps, sired by Yarrow Brae, had to advance three-wide on the far turn to bid for the lead entering the stretch.

"We broke well, and we were in good position down the backstretch," said Five Steps' jockey, J.D. Acosta. "The horse in front [Diamond David, who finished third] was slowing down, and I didn't want to move too fast because I wanted to have enough left at the end. I made my move at the quarter pole, and he ran real good. He is a good horse. We just couldn't catch the winner."

Evil Storm is the son of Storm Broker, a stallion who stood at Country Life farm until December 2005. It was then-owner Michael Pons who determined Storm Broker was not commercially popular here and sold him to a breeder in Texas, and he now stands at Quinta Melinda Racing Stables in Mercedes.

"He was a son of Storm Cat and looked like a nice little stallion," Pons said. "But we could never get his offspring to look like him. You just couldn't tell who the father was. It happens like that sometimes."

Before yesterday, nine of Storm Broker's offspring had competed in Maryland Million races, and none had won.

And this first winner was an unlikely one.

Gorham said he knew Storm Broker had never had any "real top horses," but had had some good, serviceable ones. And when he saw Evil Storm at Delaware Park, Gorham decided to claim him for $16,000.

"He won his first two starts for me and has been a pleasure to train ever since," Gorham said. "The problem is finding him races. I had him at Saratoga this summer and had two races planned for him. But they didn't fill. I tried him in a turf race, and that didn't go well, so I just decided to take him home and train him up to the Maryland Million."

Evil Storm has run 43 times, 22 of them for Gorham since Oct. 15, 2005, and has produced seven of his eight career wins for the Delaware-based trainer. If all goes as planned, Evil Storm will be back at Laurel Park on Dec. 1 for another race for Maryland-bred horses.

The 6-year-old chestnut has earned $395,240, which includes yesterday's $165,000, the largest payday of his career.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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