Although he was closer to the early pace than originally intended, the result was all-too familiar for favored Stormy Liberal in today’s opening day feature, the Grade 3, $100,000 Eddie D Stakes at Santa Anita. In registering his third consecutive victory while defeating his stablemate Conquest Tsunami by a head, he negotiated about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course under Drayden Van Dyke in a sizzling 1:10.93—which is just .20 of a second off the course record.
A winner of last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar, Stormy Liberal, a 6-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding, made it look easy as he reeled in Conquest Tsunami, who had opened up a two length advantage with three sixteenths of a mile to run.
“He knows where the wire is, for sure, but think he could’ve won by three,” said Van Dyke, who had guided him to a pair of nose victories going five furlongs on the Del Mar turf this past summer. “I thought I’d be a little farther back, but he broke like a rocket, so I was up close.”
The narrow 2-1 favorite, Stormy Liberal, who is owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen, paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60.
Although both Stormy Liberal, Conquest Tsunami and perhaps two other Miller trainees will now be pointed to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, “Stormy” adores the Santa Anita turf, as he notched his eighth win from 14 hillside tries. Out of the Royal Academy mare Vassar, Stormy Liberal is now 29-11-8-1 overall and with the winner’s share of $60,000, he now has earnings of $1,368,930.
“Both horses ran great,” said Miller. “When they crossed the dirt, I thought Flavien might be gone. But ‘Stormy,’ he’s got so much heart…He just shows up.”
Ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat, Conquest Tsunami sped to the front through lightning splits of 21.58, 42.79 and 1:04.87 and just missed, while finishing second by three quarters of a length over longshot Caribou Club.
Also off at 2-1 as the second choice in the wagering, Conquest Tsunami paid $4.00 and $3.20.
“My horse ran good, he really tried hard,” said Prat. “He was just second-best today.”
Ridden by Joe Talamo, Caribou Club rallied from next to last to finish third, a half length in front of Law Abidin Citizen. Off at 7-1, Caribou Club paid $4.00 to show.
Legendary Hall of Fame rider Eddie Delahoussaye was on-hand to present the trophy for the race that’s named in his honor.