06/15/2012 11:49AM

Hollywood Park: Desert Stormer's talent level far exceeds its purse


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The Breeders’ Cup was not rescheduled from fall to summer, nor was it relocated from Santa Anita to Betfair Hollywood Park.

And just to clarify, the purse of the BC Filly and Mare Sprint was not sliced from $1 million to $70,000 even if a championship-caliber field entered Sunday at Hollywood Park hints otherwise.

Turbulent Descent, Teddy’s Promise, and Switch race six furlongs for small potatoes in the Desert Stormer Handicap, a sprint for fillies and mares that looks like a championship event except for its non-graded status and nominal prize money.

“It’s the best field of the meet, with three Grade 1 winners, for a purse of $70,000,” said Turbulent Descent’s trainer Mike Puype. “But we have to go.”

Yes, she does. Turbulent Descent was the country’s top 3-year-old filly sprinter one year ago before her reputation was tarnished by a troubled fifth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup that was followed by an uncharacteristic misfire in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita.

The sixth-place finish Dec. 31 by odds-on Turbulent Descent was her final start. In retrospect, Puype believes Turbulent Descent was simply worn out.

“She was coming off a long campaign of travel. She had four races in a row on the road – at Keeneland, Belmont, Saratoga, and Churchill Downs,” he said.

The campaign toll was exacerbated by a blazingly fast surface early in the Santa Anita winter meet that Turbulent Descent disliked.

“The track was cement hard, and I don’t think she cared for it,” Puype said.

Puype pulled the plug and gave Turbulent Descent, 6 for 10 with earnings of $858,350 – a freshening. The Desert Stormer is her first start in more than five months. It is not a race that she has to win.

“It is six furlongs, and it’s her first race back,” Puype warned. “I deem her fit and ready, but the A Gleam is the race,” referring to the seven-furlong sprint on July 14.

Regular rider David Flores has been working Turbulent Descent once a week. She is 3 for 3 at Hollywood, and breaks from the outside post in a field of six.

While the La Brea was the last stop for Turbulent Descent, it was the first stakes for Teddy’s Promise. She won by 2 1/4 lengths, then had a brutal trip and finished fifth in the Santa Monica. Trainer Ron Ellis gave her a three-month break.

“She was a little bit worn out after those races at Santa Anita,” he said. “We’re going to skip Del Mar with her, so I figured I’d run her three times here. So far, so good.”

Teddy’s Promise won a five-furlong stakes May 6, rallying from last under Victor Espinoza.

“It was supposed to be a learning experiment, to teach her to rate,” Ellis said. “I think she did that.”

The win was the sixth from 15 starts by Teddy’s Promise, the “now” horse in the Desert Stormer, even though Ellis already is looking forward to the Grade 2, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap, a Win and You’re In event for the Breeders’ Cup.

Meanwhile, Ellis has trepidation starting Teddy’s Promise in a minor race Sunday.

“I feel bad to have to run that hard for such a small purse,” he said. “It’s crazy, but it is what it is.”

Switch enters the Desert Storm as the lone millionaire, and will try to rebound from a subpar race. Trained by John Sadler, the 5-for-19 Switch has earned more than $1.2 million but finished a distant fifth in her May 5 comeback at Churchill Downs, a race won by Groupie Doll. Switch breaks from post 1 on Sunday.

Other starters in the Desert Stormer include likely pacesetter Izzy Rules, Mildly Offensive, and Great Hot.