OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- At this time a year ago, Attila's Storm's career seemed ready to take off. Coming off a good second in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita, Attila's Storm went into the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap as a strong favorite.
Attila's Storm came up on the short end of a three-horse photo, finishing third behind Major Success and Jet West, beaten a neck. Worse yet, he emerged from the race with a fractured hind leg that would require surgery and knock him out most of the year.
Attila's Storm made it back to the races by the fall and competed in three Grade 1 events, but had nothing to show for it but some gutty efforts and a couple of bad feet.
With those problems seemingly behind him, Attila's Storm takes a much appreciated class drop as he begins his 5-year-old campaign in Saturday's ungraded $65,000 Paumonok Handicap. Though his competition includes the Grade 1-winning Bishop Court Hill, it does not include the likes of Thor's Echo - recently voted champion sprinter - and the multiple Grade 1 winner Henny Hughes.
"Not that [Bishop Court Hill] is any slouch, but compared to what we've been running against I would have to say this is a better spot to try and get him back to the winner's circle," trainer Richard Schosberg said.
In last November's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Attila's Storm finished fifth, 4 3/4 lengths behind Thor's Echo. According to Schosberg, Attila's Storm was stepped on and had a hind shoe bent in the race. Schosberg brought Attila's Storm back three weeks later in the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Dash, where he finished a well-beaten seventh, nine lengths behind Thor's Echo.
"I think we ran in the De Francis because it was a Grade 1, and I think in retrospect he probably needed more time to recover from the Breeders' Cup and the Vosburgh," Schosberg said. "It was a combination of a lot of things: a rough trip in the De Francis, he came back a little banged up - the back foot itself healed up okay; that did not seem to be an issue. He came back with a sore front foot after the De Francis."
Schosberg said he has not mapped out a campaign for Attila's Storm, though he lets himself dream about a third consecutive start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint when he notes that Attila's Storm is undefeated at Monmouth Park, the site of this year's Breeders' Cup on Oct. 27.
"Everything depends on how we do this weekend," Schosberg said. "I still think he's a Grade 1 horse. . . . I think he can at least run with the best horses around."