12/17/2006 12:00AM

Stormello wins Futurity his way

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - All week long, Bill Currin had tried to get Stormello to slow down and relax in his morning exercise. But when the gates opened for the Grade 1, $441,500 on Saturday, Stormello would have none of it. He tugged jockey Kent Desormeaux to the lead, and rather than fight, Desormeaux went along for the ride.

Stormello did the rest. He led most of the way, was passed at midstretch, but then re-rallied to beat 15-1 shot Liquidity by a neck following a thrilling stretch drive. Roman Commander was another 1 1/4 lengths back while nosing out favored Belgravia for third.

The victory gave Stormello ($8.80) - who in October captured the Norfolk Stakes - a sweep of this circuit’s major fall races for 2-year-olds. In between those two wins, however, he finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after pressing the pace. That effort prompted Currin - who trains and co-owns Stormello - to work on getting Stormello to relax.

"I didn’t expect him to go to the lead, but he did relax on the front end," Currin said. "And in the stretch, he re-broke."

Stormello had Liquidity hot on his heels through fractions of 23.57 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 47.62 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:11.66 for six furlongs. Liquidity put his head in front passing the mile mark in 1:35.83, but then Stormello came back to win in 1:42.19 for 1 1/16 miles on a Cushion Track surface that played fairly quick after rain showers earlier in the day.

"He’s my little Casey’s Shadow," Desormeaux said. "He’s got chrome on all four legs and a stripe down his forehead. He got passed and came back. That’s true heart."

Desormeaux said he tried to get Stormello to rate early, "but he wanted to go play on the lead.

"The kind of pull I would have had to maintain to keep him off the leaders would have been futile," Desormeaux said. "The happy horse was the fast horse today."

Julien Leparoux, who rode the previously unbeaten Belgravia, said he had a good trip from the outside post in the field of 10, but lamented “they didn’t get tired in front.”

Currin and Al Eisman bred and own Stormello, who is by Stormy Atlantic and is out of the Carson City mare Wilshewed. Asked if this was his first Grade 1 victory, Eisman cracked, "Unfortunately, it is." Stormello has now won three times in seven starts.

Currin said he had not yet mapped out a plan for next year to get Stormello to the Kentucky Derby. He even mused about prepping in the United Arab Emirates Derby, though he did not seem particularly wed to the idea. "I don’t have a plan," he said. "I don’t have an owner to worry about. I can do what I want."