HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Katherine Ball’s Limousine Liberal has proven his worth while running against the best sprinters in the country, including the likes of Eclipse Award-winning Runhappy. Yet, the 4-year-old gelding will be seeking his first graded-stakes victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Smile Sprint (G2) on Gulfstream Park’s $1.125 million Summit of Speed program of nine stakes.
“He’s had some close calls in graded stakes. He was a little unlucky in some of them,” trainer Ben Colebrook said. “I don’t think he was unlucky against Runhappy, other than Runhappy came to Saratoga to run – that was the only unlucky part.”
Limousine Liberal earned Grade 1 stakes-placed credentials at Saratoga last August when he finished second behind front-running Runhappy in the King’s Bishop. The son of Successful Appeal chased the eventual Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner in the seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds but could get no closer than four lengths at the finish, although he checked in two lengths clear of third-place finisher Holy Boss in a field of 11.
Limousine Liberal, who finished off the board behind Runhappy in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint after stumbling at the start, will have the opportunity to win a fees-paid berth in the year-end World Championships Saturday. The Smile Sprint and the co-featured $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) have been designated as Breeders’ Cup ‘Win & You’re In’ events on the 13-race program with a 12:15 first post.
“Obviously, he’d have to continue to improve to consider to ship him out to California for the Breeders’ Cup. At, least he’d have a ‘Win & You’re In’ under his belt,” said Colebrook, whose Smile contender arrived from Kentucky Wednesday along with several other candidates for the Summit of Speed stakes.
The Keeneland–based gelding has finished first or second in six of eight lifetime starts, including a trio of graded-stakes placings in the King’s Bishop (G1), Gallant Bob (G3) and a month ago in the Aristides (G3) at Churchill Downs.
“He ran a good race last time; he just couldn’t get there. That horse that beat him was pretty game – Alsvid – loves Churchill,” Colebrook said.
Limousine Liberal’s high-level performance has hardly taken Colebrook by surprise.
“He showed he was a good horse early on in his training. Actually, he looked like he was going to be a good 2-year-old, but he had a little issue behind. He probably was just going through some growing pains,” he said “We gave him the winter off and brought him back as a 3-year-old and he was burning the track up before he ran the first time.”
Luis Saez has been named to ride Limousine Liberal, who is scheduled to face six rivals in the Smile Sprint.
Trainer David Jacobson entered a pair of New York-based horses in the Smile, including Chief Lion, who will be seeking his fourth straight victory Saturday. Claimed by Jacobson for $62,500 out of a strong winning effort at Santa Anita April 3, the 6-year-old gelding has won back-to-back optional claiming allowance races at Penn National and Belmont Park.
“He continues to improve. He could turn into a major player heading into Saratoga and Belmont in the fall,” said Jacobson, who gave the return mount to Emmanuel Esquivel. “He’s got to step up with the big boys. We’re hoping that he can compete at this level.”
Final Turn Racing Stables’ Eighty Three, a $40,000 claim at Saratoga last August, will also represent Jacobson’s stable in the Smile. The 5-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday has never finished worse than third in 12 career starts, including back-to-back second-place finishes in optional claiming company at Parx and Monmouth in his last two starts.
“This is just a real hard-hitting horse who’s had some issues during his career. He’s very good right now,” said Jacobson, who named Cornelio Velasquez to ride Eighty Three. “There should be a hot pace and the race could just set up for him. He’ll be flying at the end.”
Monster Racing Stables’ Delta Bluesman also will bring a three-race winning streak into the Smile. The Jorge Navarro-trained 6-year-old gelding captured an optional claiming allowance by six lengths in his Gulfstream finale April 13 before scoring a dead-heat triumph in the Decathlon Stakes and winning an optional claiming allowance, both at Monmouth Park.
Emisael Jaramillo has the mount on Delta Bluesman.
Peter Mirabelli’s More Applause, Summer Wind Farms and Gallostables’ Storming Inti and Thoroughbred Champion Training Center’s Copingaway round out the field.