05/09/2003 11:00PM

Storming Home captures Jim Murray

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Storming Home, making his first start in the United States and in nearly six months, served notice that he will be one of the leading long-distance turf horses in the country this year with an authoritative victory in Saturday's $400,000 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Storming Home was two lengths better than multiple Grade 1 winner Denon in the 1 1/2-mile grass race, the richest of three stakes races run Saturday at Hollywood Park. Ballingarry was another 4 1/2 lengths back in third, with favored The Tin Man fading to seventh in the field of eight.

Both Storming Home and Denon were returning from lengthy layoffs, but they dominated this high-class field. Storming Home, who won the Group 1 Champion Stakes last year in Great Britain, had not raced since the Nov. 24 Japan Cup. Denon, who won the Grade 1 Turf Classic and Whittingham Handicap last year, had not raced since the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Turf.

Storming Home benefited from a sharp ride from jockey Gary Stevens, who moved Storming Home into a contending position down the backstretch because of the dawdling (49.22 seconds, 1:13.30) early pace.

"Gary gave him a lovely ride," said Neil Drysdale, who now trains Storming Home for Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum. "There was no pace, so he made a middle move."

Storming Home ($7.60) was timed in 2:25.31 on the firm course. The 5-year-old son of Machiavellian has now won six times in 20 starts.

Drysdale said the June 14 Whittingham would be the next likely start for Storming Home. He said races such as the Arlington Million and Breeders' Cup Turf were long-term goals.