LOUISVILLE, KY – Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Stormy Liberal successfully safeguarded his title after coming out on top of an exciting stretch-long duel with World of Trouble in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.
Breaking alertly from post 9 under Drayden Van Dyke at 7/1 odds, Stormy Liberal initially found himself in an unusual position – on the lead – before rating back and allowing the 2/1 favorite World of Trouble to post opening fractions of :22.50 and :45.83. Continuing to run strongly through the far turn, Stormy Liberal advanced past his Peter Miller stablemate Richard’s Boy as he straightened for home and set his sights on the pacesetter. Collaring World of Trouble shortly thereafter, Stormy Liberal appeared poised to run off, but the bettors’ choice battled back gamely along the inner hedges. The two fought noses apart for the length of the stretch until last year’s winner stuck his neck in front in the shadow of the wire. Stormy Liberal’s repeat score came in a final time of 1:04.05 for the 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the yielding turf course.
“He broke really sharp,” Van Dyke said. “I knew there were a few who were going to be a little bit faster than me. I bided my time and let them get by me, then just tipped him outside. From there on, it was up to him to do the running. Stormy Liberal likes to hang on horses and not pass them, but he got him. It was awesome.”
After spending much of the race running towards the rear, Disco Partner was able to advance to third in the stretch but was never a threat, finishing 7 1/2 lengths behind the winner.Ruby Notion took fourth by a 1/2-length over Will Call, with Chanteline a length past Lost Treasure and 2 lengths past Bucchero. Completing the order of finish came Rainbow Heir, Hembree, Conquest Tsunami, Havana Grey, Vision Perfect, and a spent Richard’s Boy.
Insta Erma was scratched as an Also Eligible.
Stormy Liberal’s win was fourth straight and improved his overall record to 30-12-8-1. The 6-year-old gelded son of Stormy Atlantic, claimed for $40,000 on October 16, 2016, has now earned $1,918,930.
“The emotions and the highs and lows I have gone through in this game in the past year are indescribable,” said Miller, who stables his horses at San Luis Rey Downs, the site of a deadly wildfire disaster last December. “I am just thankful to be back here. It is amazing to win this race two years in a row with this horse. It is a dream come true.”
Stormy Liberal returned $16 to win, $6.40 to place, and $4 to show. World of Trouble brought back $3.80 to place and $3 to show, while Disco Partner paid $3.40 to show.