The premier grass sprint of the Del Mar summer season, Friday’s Green Flash H., could not be stronger for a race worth $75,000. Topping the bill are Stormy Liberal and and Richard’s Boy, who were separated by a head at the end of the very same five-furlong course in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
The pair are not only close on the racetrack, but off of it as well. The six-year-olds are both owned, either in full or in partnership, by Rockingham Ranch, and reside in the barn of Peter Miller, currently atop the Del Mar trainer standings with three weeks of the meet remaining.
Although Richard’s Boy was the more popular of the two with bettors entering the Breeders’ Cup, Stormy Liberal has since proven the more capable by most metrics. After a disappointing venture to Hong Kong in December, Stormy Liberal finished second in both the Daytona (G3) and in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) at Meydan. Richard’s Boy finished sixth in the latter when last seen.
Sixth in the Jaipur (G2) in his return to action, Stormy Liberal finally registered his first score since the Breeders’ Cup in a course-and-distance allowance on July 25. However, the margin was only a nose over Tribalist.
Winless since May 2017, Richard’s Boy preceded his Al Quoz try with thirds in the Joe Hernandez at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint. Seventh in the off-the-turf Sensational Star prior to his Middle East venture, Richard’s Boy has not raced since that March 31 outing.
The aforementioned Tribalist may once again pose the strongest threat to Stormy Liberal. Winner of the 2017 Green Flash following a year-plus layoff and a horrendous trip, he just missed improving his record on the Del Mar turf to four-for-four with his photo finish loss to Stormy Liberal.
Pee Wee Reese faded to seventh in a 1 1/16-mile state-bred stakes on July 28 in his first run since winning the Joe Hernandez on New Year’s Day. Last year’s American (G3) hero may strip fitter for this and has won over this course and distance before for trainer Phil D’Amato.
D’Amato also starts Touching Rainbows, third in the Bing Crosby (G1) last time. Right Hand Man, a distant third behind Stormy Liberal and Tribalist in the July 25, will need to show much more to factor.