12/17/2005 1:00AM

Meteor Storm finally recalls how to win

Jim Lisa
Meteor Storm, under Javier Castellano, defeats favored Revved Up by a neck in the Grade 2 McKnight Handicap for his first win since June 2004.

MIAMI - Meteor Storm, winless since capturing the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap in June 2004, ended his 18-month drought in high style by outgaming 2-1 favorite Revved Up to register a neck victory in Saturday's $200,000 at Calder.

The Grade 2 McKnight was the highlight of Calder's Grand Slam II program, which also included the Grade 2 La Prevoyante, the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper, and the seven-furlong Kenny Noe Jr. handicaps.

Meteor Storm rose to the top of the nation's handicap turf division during the summer of 2004 following wins in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Rey handicaps and his victory in the Manhattan. But after Meteor Storm failed to win again in his next nine starts trainer Wally Dollase began to wonder if his grass star might have tailed off just a bit.

"I thought maybe he was getting a little smart on me," said Dollase, who trains Meteor Storm for the Horizon Stable. "That's why I put blinkers on him a few starts back and it seemed to have moved him up. He ran his heart out when second in the Canadian International and he proved today he can still beat a good horse."

Meteor Storm raced well-placed just behind the early leaders under regular rider Javier Castellano, readily took command on the final turn, then withstood a stiff challenge from Revved Up. The favorite rallied outside and just behind Meteor Storm approaching the quarter pole, engaged for command near midstretch but was second best. Scooter Roach outfinished Dreadnaught by a nose for third.

"The boy rode him perfectly," said Dollase. "He had him exactly where we wanted him to be, about two or three lengths off the lead. This was really a huge effort for him because he usually does better on a little yielding course and this one was firm today."

Meteor Storm ($8.20) covered 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.91 over a firm course and completed an all stakes pick four that returned $135.20 for a $1 ticket.