04/26/2014 5:48PM

Storm Fighter reaches new heights with Tiznow Stakes victory

Benoit Photo
After a year off, Storm Fighter has now won 2 of 3 starts in 2014, including a victory in Saturday's Tiznow Stakes at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Storm Fighter’s career has been building toward a race such as Saturday’s $125,000 Tiznow Stakes at Santa Anita.

After Storm Fighter finished a well-beaten sixth behind Goldencents in the 2013 Santa Anita Derby, trainer Bruce Headley gave the colt the rest of the year off. This year, Storm Fighter has won 2 of 3 starts, including a frontrunning win in the Tiznow Stakes for California-breds over a mile.

“He’s a big, strong horse,” Headley said. “I turned him out for him to grow up and cool out. This is the reward.”

Storm Fighter ($7.60) was timed in 1:35.06. He was never challenged by his four rivals, leading by at least a length throughout.

“There was no speed in the race, and we took advantage of that,” jockey Edwin Maldonado said. “He made the lead pretty easy, and the rest was all him.”

Storm Fighter set early fractions of 23.20 seconds and 46.45, leading by a length or more over Soi Phet. On the turn, Rousing Sermon, the 4-5 favorite, moved within two lengths of Storm Fighter but never got closer, finishing second by 3 1/4 lengths.

China Prince was third, followed by Kate’s Event and SoiPhet in the small field. The tactics of the others surprised Maldonado, who expected a challenge from Rousing Sermon or Kate’s Event, both trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.

“I thought one of the Hollendorfer horses would go with him,” Maldonado said.

Storm Fighter, a colt by Stormin Fever, races for the Mabee family’s Golden Eagle Farm.

Storm Fighter has won 3 of7 starts and $159,718. The Santa Anita Derby and Tiznow Stakes are the only stakes appearances in Storm Fighter’s career.

That will change in coming months, Headley said. He mentioned the $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita as a possible long-term goal June 28. The race was formerly known as the Hollywood Gold Cup when Hollywood Park was in business.