Katherine Ball's Limousine Liberal has run against some of the best sprinters in the country, but will seek his first graded stakes victory in the $250,000 Smile Sprint (gr. II) June 29 at Gulfstream Park.
"He's had some close calls in graded stakes. He was a little unlucky in some of them," trainer Ben Colebrook said. "I don't think he was unlucky against (champion) Runhappy , other than Runhappy came to Saratoga to run—that was the only unlucky part."
Limousine Liberal earned grade I-placed credentials at Saratoga Race Course last August, when he finished second behind Runhappy in the King's Bishop. The 4-year-old Successful Appeal gelding chased the eventual Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner in the seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, but could get no closer than four lengths at the finish, although he checked in two lengths clear of third-place finisher Holy Boss in a field of 11.
Limousine Liberal, who finished off the board behind Runhappy in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after stumbling at the start, will have the opportunity to win a fees-paid berth into the 2016 edition of that race with a win Saturday, through the Breeders' Cup Challenge series.
"Obviously, he'd have to continue to improve to consider to ship him out to California for the Breeders' Cup," said Colebrook, whose Smile contender arrived from Kentucky June 29.
The Keeneland-based gelding has finished first or second in six of his eight lifetime starts, including a trio of graded stakes placings in the King's Bishop, Gallant Bob (gr. III), and the June 4 Aristides (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
"He ran a good race last time; he just couldn't get there," Colebrook said. "That horse that beat him was pretty game. Alsvid loves Churchill."
Limousine Liberal is scheduled to face six rivals in the Smile Sprint, including a pair of New York-based horses from the barn of David Jacobson.
Chief Lion seeks his fourth straight victory Saturday. He was claimed by Jacobson for $62,500 out of a winning effort at Santa Anita Park April 3. The 6-year-old gelding then won back-to-back optional-claiming allowance races at Penn National Race Course and Belmont Park.
"He continues to improve. He could turn into a major player heading into Saratoga and Belmont in the fall," Jacobson said. "He's got to step up with the big boys. We're hoping that he can compete at this level."
Final Turn Racing Stables' Eighty Three, a $40,000 claim at Saratoga last August, will also represent Jacobson's stable in the Smile. The 5-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday has never finished worse than third in 12 career starts, including back-to-back second-place finishes in optional claiming company at Parx Racing and Monmouth Park in his last two starts.
"This is just a real hard-hitting horse who's had some issues during his career. He's very good right now," Jacobson said. "There should be a hot pace and the race could just set up for him. He'll be flying at the end."
Monster Racing Stables' Delta Bluesman also will bring a three-race winning streak into the Smile. The Jorge Navarro-trained 6-year-old gelding captured an optional-claiming allowance by six lengths in his Gulfstream finale April 13 before scoring a dead-heat victory in the Decathlon Stakes and winning an optional-claiming allowance, both at Monmouth.
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, July 02, 2016, Race 10
- 3 yo's & up
- 4:58 PM (local)
|1||1Delta Bluesman (FL)||Emisael Jaramillo||119||Jorge Navarro||5/2|
|2||2Eighty Three (KY)||Cornelio H. Velasquez||117||David Jacobson||3/1|
|3||3Limousine Liberal (KY)||Luis Saez||117||Ben Colebrook||2/1|
|4||4Storming Inti (PA)||Jesus M. Rios||119||Jena M. Antonucci||30/1|
|5||5Chief Lion (FL)||Emmanuel Esquivel||119||David Jacobson||7/2|
|6||6More Applause (KY)||Tyler Gaffalione||117||Manuel A. Estevez||20/1|
|7||7Copingaway (KY)||Eddie Castro||118||Jaime Mejia||30/1|