Stormy Liberal was sent off at 30-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar last November, but rallied to pull off a head victory for trainer Peter Miller.
The bay son of Stormy Atlantic competed once more in 2017, shipping overseas for an unplaced effort in the Hong Kong Sprint (HK-G1) a month later, but returned to the United States soon after and is set to make his six-year-old bow Saturday in the $150,000 Daytona Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Stormy Liberal is the defending champion of the Daytona, wrapping up a four-race win streak with a neck score in the about 6 1/2-furlong, downhill turf contest. Prior to that race the Kentucky-bred captured the Siren Lure Stakes, Joe Hernandez Stakes and Clocker’s Corner Stakes. The streak was broken when the bay ran eighth in the Jaipur Stakes (G3) in June.
Stormy Liberal wouldn’t be seen in competition again until lining up for his Breeders’ Cup upset, and gets the rider from that event, Joel Rosario, taking back the mount in the Daytona.
Fellow Miller trainee Calculator ran in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), but could only manage a seventh-placing in the six-furlong affair. The gray horse closed out his five-year-old campaign with a fourth-placing in the Midnight Lute Stakes (G3) on December 30 but visited the winner’s circle when wiring the Clocker’s Corner Stakes on January 28 in his 2018 debut. Flavien Prat held the reins on the Grade 3 winner that day and stays in the saddle.
Multiple stakes hero Conquest Tsunami, the last of three Miller-trained runners in the seven-horse Daytona, earned a career-best 98 BRIS Speed rating while wiring an allowance/optional claimer by 4 1/4 lengths over course and distance last out on January 20. That was the six-year-old gelding’s first start for Miller after his initial 20 starts came under the tutelage of Mark Casse. Victor Espinoza has the call in the Daytona.
Grade 1 victor What a View returns from an eight-month layoff in this spot for trainer Kenny Black. The Vronsky gelding captured the Crystal Water Stakes last May before making his final start of the year a seventh-placing in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) on June 3. The dark bay seven-year-old keeps regular rider Tyler Baze in the irons for his comeback.
Perfectly Majestic finished second in the Clocker’s Corner last out and is looking for his first win since taking an allowance/optional claimer at Del Mar in November 2016. The Bob Hess Jr. charge placed in both the Joe Hernandez and Thunder Road Stakes (G3) last season, and keeps Kent Desormeaux aboard in this spot.
Completing the Daytona field are Irish listed winner Tombelaine, who completed the superfecta in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint last out, and Fabozzi, unraced since a fourth-placing in the Thunder Road. Mike Smith rides Tombelaine while Joe Talamo has piloting duties on Fabozzi.