10/18/2014 8:50PM

Storm Power takes opening-day Bienvenidos

Coady Photography
Southern California shipper Storm Power, ridden by Geovanni Franco, wins the Bienvenidos Stakes.

Storm Power, who had been knocking heads with some toughies in Southern California, found the change of scenery to his liking as he finished strongly, capturing Saturday’s $35,000 Bienvenidos Stakes, the opening-day event for the Turf Paradise meet.

Owned by Mercedes LLC and trained by Robertino Diodoro, the 4-year-old Storm Power  bided his time early in the 6 1/2-furlong main track event, steadily advanced to reach contention on the far turn under Geovanni Franco, took command in midstretch , and drew clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

Bull Dozer made it an all-Diodoro exacta as the 7-5 favorite pressed the pace and on for second, well clear of Absolutely Cool,  who was third in the field of eight. Absolutely Cool was the defending champ and won the Phoenix Gold Cup, the meet’s marquee event, this past winter.

Storm Power ran the distance in 1:15.48 and paid $10.80 as the third choice. The winner’s share of $21,049 pushes his earnings to $86,439 from 2 wins in 8 starts.