DEL MAR, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2017) – Trainer Peter Miller posted his first Breeders’ Cup victory and did so in memorable fashion Saturday at Del Mar, sending out both the winner, Stormy Liberal, and runner-up, California-bred Richard’s Boy, in the $1 million Turf Sprint.
Stormy Liberal, who had won all four of his previous starts this year on the West Coast, had not raced since finishing a tiring eighth behind the record-setting performance of Disco Partner in the Grade 3 Jaipur at Belmont Park on June 10. On Saturday, Stormy Liberal benefitted from a perfect ride by Joel Rosario, who let him settle along the inside within easy striking distance of the leaders during the early stages of the five-furlong Turf Sprint. Stormy Liberal tipped out for clearance once settling into the stretch and ultimately wore down stablemate Richard’s Boy, by a head, in the final strides.
Richard’s Boy forced the pace from the outset, gained command between calls nearing midstretch, and just failed to last. Disco Partner, who had only one horse beaten turning for home, finished best of all down the center of the course for third, a half-length behind Richard’s Boy.
Richard’s Boy is by Idiot Proof, out of the Cee’s Tizzy mare Marissa’s Joy, was bred by Harold and Pam Tillema and is also owned by Rockingham Ranch. Richard’s Boy has nine wins in 27 starts and earnings of $848,440.
Lady Aurelia, the 4-5 favorite in a field of 12 turf sprint specialists, raced forwardly placed into the stretch but came up empty at the end.
Stormy Liberal, a 5-year-old gelded son of Stormy Atlantic owned by Rockingham Ranch, completed the distance in 56.12 seconds over the firm course and paid $62.40. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.
“Richard’s Boy looked like he was going to win, I was watching Joel, then I’m rooting for Joel, then I was saying ‘Just one of you win, somebody win!’” an elated Miller said after the race. “To run one-two here at home – I live ten minutes away in Encinitas – it just doesn’t get any better than this. And so is winning with Joel, who is a good friend and rode a lot for me when he was out here. He gave us a fantastic Ride. As did Flavien Prat [on Richard’s Boy].
“I had a lot of faith in both these horses, they show up every time,” Miller continued. “But when you run in a Breeders’ Cup race against Lady Aurelia and some super good sprinters, I thought we needed the home court advantage, which I think we had. I also had two jockeys who know the course, and two horses who know the course. It turned out to work in our favor.”
Trainer Wesley Ward said Lady Aurelia seemed to be cooling out fine immediately after the race.
“She’s walking good and sound,” said Ward. “She just had a long year. She broke right there, she was right there with them, Johnny [Velazquez] eased her out like she likes to do, but he said when he called on her, she wasn’t there.”
Ward said he plans on putting Lady Aurelia away for the rest of the year and likely map out a similar schedule for her in 2018 as she followed this season.