07/15/2008 12:00AM

Whatsthescript finally on big stage


DEL MAR, Calif. - Just the presence of Whatsthescript in Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar is a reason for owners Tom and Debbie Stull to celebrate.

The Irish-bred colt has won three stakes in the last two years, but there have been just as many phone calls with disappointing news about his health. Once, it was back problems. Then, foot problems arose that kept him sidelined.

All of that seemed ancient history when Whatsthescript won the Grade 2 American Handicap in a 29-1 upset at Hollywood Park on June 28. Perhaps now, his owners said in the winner's circle, an older Whatsthescript is past the minor injuries and on the verge of the season that the Stulls always envisioned was possible.

"I've been waiting to get this horse where he is now," Tom Stull said. "That was the best race of his career."

Stull will be aiming to say the same sort of things after the Grade 1 Read, one of the top turf races of the Del Mar meeting. The 1 1/8-mile distance is the same as the American Handicap's, and the field will be similar.

Stull, 60, who operates Tommy Town Thoroughbreds farm in Santa Ynez, Calif., bought Whatsthescript privately in late 2006 when the colt was based in Ireland with trainer David Wachman. Whatsthescript beat maidens in Ireland in his second start and later finished third behind Teofilo, an eventual multiple Group 1 stakes winner, in a minor stakes at seven furlongs.

Whatsthescript came to the U.S. in the fall of 2006, and made an immediate splash for the Stulls and their then-private trainer Manny Marques, winning the restricted Pinjara Stakes at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park. He finished 10th in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity in December of 2006, his only start on the main track.

The Stulls moved Whatsthescript to trainer Doug O'Neill in early 2007, and the colt made only three starts that year, battling injury throughout. A win in the Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita that March was followed by an unlucky second in the Grade 3 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs in May.

"He could have won that race handily if he hadn't gotten stopped," Stull said last weekend, still disgusted by the loss.

Whatsthescript did not start again until December, finishing 13th as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita. Nothing seemed to be going right.

At the start of this year, Whatsthescript was sent to Tommy Town for a rest that went on longer than expected.

"Unfortunately, we got him back and I guess he wasn't quite 100 percent and we had to regroup," Stull said. "He had foot problems that created a little bit of back soreness. He's always had little foot problems."

For the 2008 season, Whatsthescript was sent to John Sadler. Stull's daughter, Shelly, the wife of jockey Isaias Enriquez, works for Sadler as an exercise rider, which contributed to the change of stables, Stull said.

"We decided to make a change," he said. "My daughter works for him and spoke very highly on him. I felt more comfortable."

Enriquez rode Whatsthescript in the American Handicap, which was his first start for Sadler. Sixth to the final turn in a field of seven, Whatsthescript overcame traffic in early stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Storm Military.

"With that burst of speed he has at the end, it was pretty amazing," Stull said. "They weren't backing up."

Whatsthescript earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

In Sadler, Whatsthescript is trained by one of the hottest trainers on the circuit. He won the training title at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting that ended on Sunday. On the weekend of the American Handicap, he won four stakes, three of them graded.

"It will be interesting to see where he takes us," Sadler said of Whatsthescript. "He's got a lot of ability. My job was to see if we could top him off. Our goal is to see if we can win a Grade 1."

Stull is hoping Whatsthescript can start in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, run on a turf course he has already proved to adore. Stull has bred hundreds of runners at Tommy Town, which stands seven stallions, including Ministers Wild Cat and Old Topper. Whatsthescript, a rare private purchase for an owner who usually races homebreds, could give his family its first Grade 1 in the Eddie Read.

"That's what we're all in the game for," he said. "You look for a horse of this caliber. They don't come along very often."