June 23, 2024

Stormy Liberal in action New Year’s Day in the Joe Hernandez

Stormy Liberal successfully defends his title in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) under jockey Drayden Van Dyke at Churchill Downs on November 3, 2018 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Dual Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Stormy Liberal begins his campaign for an unprecedented third win in that prestigious event on New Year’s Day at Santa Anita in the $100,000 Joe Hernandez (G3).

Winner of the about 6 1/2-furlong Hernandez in 2017, Stormy Liberal bypassed last year’s event and awaited the Daytona (G3) in February. That, the Al Quoz Sprint (G1), and Jaipur (G2) proved to be the only setbacks for the Stormy Atlantic gelding, who finished the season with four photo-finish victories.

The finale was a thrilling neck victory over the three-year-old World of Trouble in the Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs, contested over a yielding course. The pair were more than seven lengths ahead of third-place finisher Disco Partner. Stormy Liberal is a potential finalist for a 2018 Eclipse Award as champion turf male.

Stormy Liberal narrowly edged Conquest Tsunami and Caribou Club in the Eddie D (G3) two starts back. Conquest Tsunami had beaten Stormy Liberal in the Daytona and placed in the Al Quoz Sprint and Jaipur, but seemingly disliked the footing when 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint after breaking from the disadvantageous post 14.

Caribou Club, meanwhile, successfully stretched out to 1 1/16 miles to capture the Seabiscuit H. (G2) at Del Mar in late November. It was the third stakes win of the season for the son of City Zip, who also captured the Henry Clark at Laurel and the Connaught Cup (G2) at Woodbine.

Also back from the Eddie D is fourth-place finisher Law Abidin Citizen, who subsequently landed a course-and-distance allowance on October 27 in his most recent start. Another to watch for is Calculator, a stablemate of Stormy Liberal’s who is three-for-four down the hillside course.