Stormy Liberal gets Dubai World Cup night green light

February 28, 2019 11:14am

Brian Trump, racing manager for Rockingham Ranch, said this week that champion Stormy Liberal has been cleared to continue on toward a Dubai World Cup night run following an anxious moment in his final prep for the Group 1, $2 million Al Quoz Sprint.

The repeat Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner finished second by a head in Feb. 22 in a five-furlong allowance over Santa Anita’s turf after the son of Stormy Atlantic stumbled under Drayden Van Dyke when heading into the stretch. Stormy Liberal regained his footing, only to be just caught by a closing Eddie Haskell.

“According to Drayden, he almost lost all of his balance completely,” Trump said. “He looked like he kind of slid out from underneath himself. Really, it was a lot to ask for him to come back (and win) at five furlongs. Dubai, at six furlongs, will give him a little bit more time. He seems to be fine at both distances. We’re excited to see how he ships and get him out there.”

The turf course was rated “firm” for Stormy Liberal's allowance race, but Santa Anita has experienced several days of rain this month.



Trump said Stormy Liberal continued to be monitored following the race and no injury was discovered.

“We wish it didn’t happen, obviously,” Trump added. “It’s not just about the win, but we just want to protect our horses every time we can, and when you see something like that, it makes you hold your breath, that’s for sure.”

With Stormy Liberal confirmed, Rockingham Ranch is on course to be represented by three runners March 30 at Meydan, each of them 7-year-old geldings.
 Roy H, as with Stormy Liberal, is trained by Peter Miller in California and co-owned by David Bernsen. X Y Jet, co-owned by Gelfenstein Farm and trained by Jorge Navarro, will make his way from Florida.

While Stormy Liberal will go on the grass, Roy H and X Y Jet are scheduled to meet again
 in the Group 1, $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, a race in which they finished second and third last year behind the late-running Mind Your Biscuits.

The trip to Dubai follows repeat Breeders’ Cup victories and Eclipse honors for both Stormy Liberal and Roy H. Neither won a stakes race until their 5-year-old seasons, although Stormy Liberal was multiple Grade 3-placed beforehand and Roy H improved after being gelded in 2016.

“Now they get the opportunity to continue to succeed,” Trump said. “I think a lot of times we don’t get to see that with other horses. There’s such a stigmata about horses being older and concern for that.”

Stormy Liberal earned the Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Male, the first grass sprinter to ever take the honor. He opened 2019 with a runner-up finish in the Joe Hernandez Stakes (G3) on Jan. 1 prior to the allowance race last weekend.

Roy H, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint victor and Eclipse Champion Male Sprinter the last two years, has made his lone 2019 start count, as he made easy work of the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) on Jan. 19, cantering to a four-length win, and has worked at San Luis Rey Downs throughout February.
 

Roy H most recently drilled a half-mile Tuesday in 48.40.

“He had a nice workout, looked sharp and excited to go to Dubai as well,” Trump said.

The son of More Than Ready finished only a length behind Mind Your Biscuits in last year’s Golden Shaheen.
 

X Y Jet will hope to overcome two narrow defeats when he returns to Meydan. In the 2016 Golden Shaheen he was second by a neck, then missed by a head two years later. The speedy Florida-bred won his final Dubai prep Feb. 13 at Gulfstream Park, leading every step of the six-furlong allowance optional claiming race in the slop.

The 7 ¾-length victory represented a rebound from X Y Jet’s season debut in the Jan. 19 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes, where he faded to fourth. Navarro told connections the horse came out of the race in good order, but he didn’t think he had the son of Kantharos completely back in shape off a seven-month layoff.

“He showed that in his last race that he was definitely more fit,” Trump said of the allowance. “He definitely had that drive.”

Connections plan to keep regular riders on all three mounts. Van Dyke will be aboard Stormy Liberal, Paco Lopez on Roy H, and Emisael Jaramillo on X Y Jet. 
Trump said the horses will ship in about 10 days, with the California pair first flying to Florida, then Amsterdam to Dubai.

Though the trio of millionaires has padded earnings with top placings in Dubai, Rockingham Ranch, founded in 2012, is still hoping to add an international flair to their horses’ list of accomplishments.

“We feel very blessed and lucky that in such a short amount of time we were able to have a significant impact in the sport,” Trump said. “We’ve made this trip to Dubai about three times now. It’s been an ultimate goal of ours to win one of these races, Gary Hartunian and myself.
 

“From the first time we went we said, we want to come back and win one of these races.”

 

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