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Del Mar Preview | Stormy Liberal Stakes 2023: Lane Way Favored Off Eddie D Win
Lane Way winning the Eddie D Stakes (Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Del Mar Preview | Stormy Liberal Stakes 2023: Lane Way Favored Off Eddie D Win

Eight of the quickest horses on the grounds will kick-off the stakes tripleheader at Del Mar Saturday in the $100,000 Stormy Liberal turf sprint. The 5-furlong dash for cash will be run on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course and launches the second weekend of the Turf Festival.

This is the second running of the Stormy Liberal, named after the Peter Miller trainee who twice won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. It goes off as Race 3 on the nine-race Saturday card. Approximate post time for the stakes is 1:30 p.m.

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Trainer Dick Mandella brings over the morning line favorite, Lane Way. The son of Into Mischief won the G2 Eddie D last out at Santa Anita. In his last nine races, he has finished first or second in all but one.

“He always runs a pretty good race,” Mandella says. “I’m just hoping he has a little luck.”

This is only the fourth race of the year for Lane Way. Mandella gave him some time off between February and August.

“He got a little stoved up,” he explains. “It was no big deal, just needed a break.”

It paid off with a graded stakes win, something no one else in the Stormy Liberal field can boast. Several have run in graded stakes.

Unconquerable Keen, one of three Phil D’Amato entries, ran seventh in the Eddie D but his conditioner doesn’t think that was a fair assessment of what the Irish-bred can do.

“He got bothered a lot,” D’Amato says. “We didn’t get to see him with his true run. But he got back on the beam in the allowance race and hopefully he’s back to a trip that he likes here at Del Mar.”

Unconquerable Keen won an open allowance race last out up at Santa Anita.

His stablemate, Turn On The Jets, ran in the G3 Green Flash at Del Mar this past summer and finished fourth. He’s back to defend his crown in the inaugural edition of the Stormy Liberal.

“He had a little traffic trouble in his last,” D’Amato notes. “He’s been reunited with Juan Hernandez who won the stake on him last year. He’s doing very well and should be ready to go.”

D’Amato’s other entry is Honey Pants, who came to him from the Christophe Clement barn in the spring. In three subsequent starts he has a second and a third.

Ah Jeez has tested graded stakes company in the past. He ran fourth in the G3 Cecil B. DeMille at Del Mar last year then went to Dubai where he finished 13th in the G2 UAE Derby.

Trainer Doug O’Neill brought Ah Jeez back to the states only to run last in the G2 Del Mar Derby and last again in the Eddie D. But then he rebounded with a nice runner-up finish to Dandy Man Shines in the $75,000 Let it Ride on opening day of the Bing Crosby Season.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and the morning line odds:

  1. Unconquerable Keen (Flavien Prat, 4-1)
  2. Lane Way (Mike Smith, 9/5)
  3. Turn On The Jets (5/2)
  4. Honey Pants (Antonio Fresu, 12-1)
  5. Ah Jeez (Joel Rosario, 10-1)
  6. Daniel’s Magic (Tyler Gaffalione, 6-1)
  7. See Through It (Geovanni Franco, 12-1)
  8. Johnny Podres (Kyle Frey, 12-1)