LOUISVILLE – Stormy Liberal made it back-to-back victories in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) as he wore down the pace-setting World of Trouble to register a neck victory in the second of Saturday’s nine Breeders’ Cup World Championship stakes at Churchill Downs.
Stormy Liberal became the first horse to win consecutive runnings of the Grade 1 stakes since Mizdirection won the 2012 and 2013 editions for part-owner Jim Rome, the national syndicated sports radio host.
A 30-1 winner a year ago, Stormy Liberal was sent off at more reasonable 7-1 odds this year. Owned by Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen and trained by Peter Miller, Stormy Liberal ($16) was fourth early on and then joined the pace-setting World of Trouble at the top of the stretch as they pulled away from their 12 rivals in a two-horse duel to the wire that was not settled until the final yards.
“The long-term goal is to triple up on this race next year,” Bernsen said about the 6-year-old gelding who was claimed for $40,000 on Oct. 16, 2016.
Disco Partner was third, 7 ¼ lengths behind World of Trouble, while Ruby Notion was fourth.
The victory was the fourth straight for Stormy Liberal following a sixth-place finish in the Jaipur Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on June 9. He was last seen winning the Eddie D. Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.
“He knows where the wire is,” Miller said. “He’s a special horse in many ways. This is sweet.”
European runners Havana Grey and Lost Treasure were unplaced. In 11 runnings of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, a European-based runner has yet to emerge victorious.
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Stormy Liberal covered the the 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.05 on a course labeled as “good” by Churchill Downs.
By Bob Ehalt