If Limousine Liberal's first graded stakes win came about as a result of dream set up, the dark bay gelding's second such score was strictly the product of his improving ability.
The already loaded male sprint division was further reinforced when the Successful Appeal gelding overcame a four-wide trip throughout to post a 2 1/2-length win over Wilbo in the $100,000 Aristides Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs June 3.
Instead of sending Limousine Liberal to New York next week for either the Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap (G1) or True North Stakes (G2), trainer Ben Colebrook opted to keep the 5-year-old dark bay home in hopes of padding his resume without having to go to the well effort-wise. Although Katherine Ball's homebred sat third behind quick fractions, then pounced for a head victory in the May 6 Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G2), jockey Corey Lanerie felt confident the 3-5 race favorite could handle being on the far outside throughout the six-furlong Aristides.
"He had the outside and I just kept his face clean and rode him like he was the best horse," said Lanerie, who booted home four prior winners on the card before celebrating his Aristides triumph. "He was second in this race last year by a head, but he's learned to relax a bit more. He's saving himself a bit more for the drive."
Breaking from the outside post in the six-horse field, Limousine Liberal settled in hand for Lanerie in fourth as Union Jackson cut an opening quarter in :21.83. Wilbo was pushing the issue in second and after they went a half-mile in :45.17, that one started making his bid to overtake the pacesetter, but was joined by Limousine Liberal rolling up in the five path around the turn.
Wilbo grabbed a short head advantage at the top of the stretch but had no further answer for the momentum of the Colebrook trainee, who was digging in three-wide under right-handed urging.
"It was a pretty easy decision (not to go to New York)," Colebrook said. "He had a tough race on Derby day and we thought he'd be tough here. There is never an easy race, but we didn't have to ship in and got to stay home. We'll look at races like the Belmont Sprint Championship (G2 on July 8), the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1 at Saratoga Race Course July 29)."
Limousine Liberal covered the distance in 1:09.12 over a track rated fast and paid $3.20, $2.40, and $2.10 across the board. Wilbo was a neck in front of The Truth or Else for place honors, with Union Jackson checking in fourth. Schivarelli and Abbaa completed the order of finish. Recount and Wabel were scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Katherine and Mike Ball, Limousine Liberal has earned back-to-back graded stakes wins after previously being 0-for-10 against such company. Out of the In Excess mare Gift of Gab, he improves to five wins from 15 starts with $832,500 in earnings.