12/27/2008 12:00AM

Stormy West regains composure

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NEW ORLEANS - Stormy West was so eager to run that she burst through the gate before the start of Saturday's $60,000 Furl Sail Handicap at Fair Grounds.

"Usually that's a bad omen," said jockey Patrick Valenzuela. "I can't remember the last time a horse broke through the gate then won."

But after being brought back to the gate, Stormy West broke evenly, ran a stalking trip, then outbattled Shytoe Lafeet to win by three-quarters of a length.

Stormy West finished the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares in 1:45.41, and paid $8.60 as the favorite.

As the field of 13 settled into the starting gate, Stormy West broke through. She didn't get far before being brought in hand by the starting crew and Valenzuela.

"I got to her relax again," said Valenzuela, "and she rated kindly behind the other horses."

She settled in fifth, just behind Shytoe Lafeet, as Le Cordon Bleu set moderate early fractions. When Shytoe Lafeet went forward around the second turn, Stormy West followed, collaring Shytoe Lafeet in midstretch and holding on for the win. Shytoe Lafeet finished second, five lengths in front of Nans Joy.

"She was very full of herself today," said Valenzuela. "She wasn't going to let anybody get by her in the stretch."

Stormy West earned $36,000, taking her bankroll past $300,000 for trainer Bill Mott and owners Diana and Guy Snowden. It was her second straight victory in a stakes race here. She won the off-the-turf Blushing K.D. on opening weekend.