07/05/2005 11:00PM

Filly from Africa in U.S. debut


NGLEWOOD, Calif. - Gathering Storm, a stakes winner from South Africa, makes her U.S. debut in Friday's $62,000 Curious Clover Stakes, the third race of an evening program at Hollywood Park.

Trained by Jenine Sahadi, Gathering Storm, 6, will be making her first start since winning a handicap over five furlongs on turf at Kenilworth, South Africa, in March 2004.

has won 5 of 14 starts, including a minor stakes over six furlongs on turf in 2003.

Gathering Storm drew post 4 in a field of seven fillies and mares in the Curious Clover, which is run over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Many of the fillies and mares in the field have struggled in recent turf sprints.

finished last of six in the Exotic Wood Stakes on June 3 and was scratched from the Grade 3 Royal Heroine Stakes on July 3.

, fifth in the Exotic Wood, was third in the Tuzla Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf on May 6.

Fortunately and Spirited are seeking to end lengthy losing streaks.

Spirited finished third in three consecutive turf sprints earlier this year before finishing fourth in a one-mile allowance race for statebreds on June 24. Her last win came in a $40,000 claimer over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf here last November.

Fortunately, third in an optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields on June 19, is winless in 11 starts, dating back to the Dragon Stakes over five furlongs on turf in England on July 4, 2003.

Spring Festival seems well-placed in Friday's restricted stakes. She won three consecutive allowance races for turf sprinters last year at Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Hollywood Park. In March, Spring Festival was claimed for $50,000 by Nico Nierenberg and trainer Paddy Gallagher after a fourth-place finish in a hillside sprint on March 10.

Spring Festival has not started since that race.

"I claimed the filly and then backed off for a little bit," Gallagher said. "She looks like she tries and is a nice little filly. She needed a little time."

If Spring Festival runs well Friday, she could go next in the $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Del Mar on Sept. 4.