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Two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal coming to Kentucky Downs for RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint

Two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal coming to Kentucky Downs for RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint

FRANKLIN, KY – Stormy Liberal, the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, is scheduled to run in the $700,000, Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, one of five graded stakes to be held at the upcoming RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.

Kentucky Downs runs Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12, with post time each day moving up to 12:15 p.m. Central.

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Stormy Liberal will fly from trainer Peter Miller’s main base in California for the Sept. 7 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, then return for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita. While $200,000 of the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint purse is from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund for Kentucky-bred horses, the stakes’ $500,000 base purse alone makes it America’s most lucrative grass sprint outside the Breeders’ Cup. In addition, the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint winner receives an automatic entry fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup race Nov. 2, saving the owners $30,000.

“Big purse and it fits into his schedule,” Miller said of the Kentucky-bred Stormy Liberal. “The ‘Win and You’re In’ is always a factor, sure. It’s going to save the owners lots of money if we can do it. And we think the distance is good for him. There are a lot of things to point to.”

Kentucky Downs also will pay the winner of the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint a $1 million bonus if the horse goes on to sweep Keeneland’s Grade 2 Woodford and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

The 7-year-old Stormy Liberal prepped for the six-furlong Kentucky Downs stakes in last Saturday’s Grade 3 Green Flash at Del Mar, finishing third in his first start since he was third in Dubai’s $2 million Al Quoz Sprint on March 30.

“He ran about the way I expected, and about what we were looking for,” Miller said by phone. “We just looked at it as a prep, and I didn’t have him cranked up and tight. He had three easy half-miles. But he should have gotten enough out of it that hopefully going forward that we’re ready for Kentucky Downs and the Breeders’ Cup.

“He’s maybe a little bit mellower horse than in years past and not putting as much into his training. We’re keeping that in mind.”

Miller ran a horse for the first time at Kentucky Downs last year, when Multiplier finished sixth in the $1 million, Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.

“But we liked it,” Miller said. “It was cool. It was a neat experience. My wife and I spent three nights in Nashville. So it was all good.”

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Stormy Liberal, owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen, goes down as one of the best claims in racing history, having been haltered out of a $40,000 claiming race almost three years ago by Miller. After a pair of seconds, the son of Stormy Atlantic reeled off four straight Santa Anita stakes victories before being drubbed in Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Jaipur on the 2017 Belmont Stakes undercard. He didn’t run again until the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which he won at 30-1 odds and by a head over stablemate Richard’s Boy at Del Mar.

Stormy Liberal brought a three-race win streak into last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs, a neck victory over current East Coast star World of Trouble. Overall, Stormy Liberal has won eight stakes and the lion’s share of $2.16 million in purses for his current connections.

While Miller has frequently run in stakes in Kentucky, this is his first year keeping a string of horses in the commonwealth, currently based at Churchill Downs. He expects considerable participation at Kentucky Downs.

“We’ve got quite a few horses nominated to stakes and quite a few looking at maiden races and the undercard,” he said. “So I think we’re going to be quite active over at Kentucky Downs this year. I’m hoping to be, and hopefully we can break through with a few winners.”

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