01/17/2005 12:00AM

Stormica captures Richmond Handicap

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ALBANY, Calif. - Favored Stormica ($5.20) got a perfect trip as she scored an easy victory in the $53,500 Richmond Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Monday.

On a day when the outside was playing best and there was no speed bias, Stormica was fifth of six down the backstretch. She pulled her way into contention on the turn and was unchallenged in the lane, winning the six-furlong race by four lengths over Vaca City Flyer in 1:09.43.

"I worked her a week and a half ago. She worked easy so I knew she was good going into it," said 17-year-old jockey Michael Baze after the second stakes win of his career.

"I was happy it was not a speed bias, and today was closing all day. At the three-eighths, she was pulling me, and I was still sitting on her."

Trained by Gary Mandella, Stormica ran second in the 1 1/16 mile Star Ball Handicap on the turf here in her last start. Earlier in her career, she was second in the Woodside Handicap at six furlongs at Bay Meadows.

The victory was her first in a stakes and the fourth in 14 starts. She earned $28,000 for owners Wertheimer and Frere lifting her career earnings to $167,472.