06/08/2013 3:16PM

Hollywood Park: Tale of a Champion best in Charles Whittingham

Tale of a Champion, with Joe Talamo up, gets his first graded stakes victory in the Charles Whittingham.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - All that Tale of a Champion needed for success in Southern California was distance.

After running primarily in sprints and one-mile turf races in his first eight months on this circuit, Tale of a Champion won his first graded stakes, and second consecutive race, in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,250 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Tale of a Champion (22.40) stalked pacesetter Lucky Primo for the first mile of the race over 1 1/4 miles, took the lead before the eighth pole, and won by a length over 6-5 favorite All Squared Away.

"They were walking up front," Talamo said "I was able to come off the rail and got first run on All Squared Away."

Tale of a Champion was timed in 2:01.27. Lucky Primo finished third, followed by Niagara Falls, Lime Rickey and Slim Shadey.

All Squared Away was second in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita in April.

Tale of a Champion won the March Madness Starter Handicap for former claimers over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on March 30, his most recent start before Saturday. Owned by Kretz Racing and trained by Kristin Mulhall, Tale of a Champion won the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint at Calder last July in his final start before being sent to California.

In his career debut at Gulfstream Park in April 2012, Tale of a Champion won a $25,000 claiming race for maidens.

A 5-year-old horse by Tale of the Cat, Tale of a Champion was winless in his first seven starts on this circuit, a span that included an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last November and a third in the Joe Hernandez Handicap for turf sprinters in February.

Tale of a Champion has won 6 of 14 starts and $269,708. Talamo thinks that Tale of a Champion's future is in distance races on turf.

"I think he's starting to come into his own," Talamo said. "I think the further, the better."