05/05/2008 12:00AM

Company gives edge to Tropic Storm


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Considering the rivals that Tropic Storm has faced in recent months, the fifth race at Hollywood Park on Wednesday might be a letdown.

Since his win in an optional claimer at Santa Anita in January, Tropic Storm has been battle-tested against three proven horses.

He finished fourth to Benny the Bull in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park in late January. Benny the Bull later won the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai in March.

Tropic Storm was later third in an optional claimer to Giant Gizmo, who came back to win the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs last Friday.

In his last start, Tropic Storm was second to Street Boss in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on April 14. Street Boss is a contender in Saturday's Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Those losses will make Tropic Storm the favorite in Wednesday's race, which is run at 7 1/2 furlongs. Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Craig Dollase, Tropic Storm, 4, will be after the fourth win of his career.

Wednesday's race could be a prep for the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs on July 5.

"I would say he's a middle-distance kind of horse," Dollase said. "Hopefully, we'll get through Wednesday's race and have some stakes plan for him. There are plenty of spots for us. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but the Triple Bend is coming up."

Tropic Storm was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Street Boss in the April 14 race, contending for the lead in midstretch but failing to keep pace later.

"It looks [like] he's in the right spot," Dollase said. "We get to race out of our own stall. He's training well on this track. I don't think 7 1/2 [furlongs] will be a problem."

Tropic Storm faces another well-known rival Wednesday in Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004. A winner of 6 of 16 starts, but only 1 of his last 11, Declan's Moon, 6, was seventh in his only start this year, an optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 10.

Trained by Ron Ellis, Declan's Moon's last win came in an optional claimer over this track last July, his most recent outing here.