Katherine Ball's Limousine Liberal found himself in a familiar place Nov. 18 after taking the $80,000 Bet on Sunshine Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths: the winner's circle at Churchill Downs. The Successful Appeal gelding's win was his fourth from as many stakes races at the Louisville oval in 2017.
"We won the three (stakes at Churchill), we thought it might be cool to get the grand slam—sweep the sprint stakes here," trainer Ben Colebrook said of his decision to run Limousine Liberal in the Bet on Sunshine.
"There's a pretty big race here next year (the 2018 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill) so we're just trying to work backwards from that," he said.
In Saturday's seven-furlong test, Warrior's Club broke sharply in the five-horse field but Storm Advisory quickly took over the lead after recovering from bobbling at the start. Limousine Liberal raced patiently in second under Corey Lanerie, just to the outside of Storm Advisory. Le Ken ran in third with Warrior's Club in fourth and The Truth Or Else at the back. The field moved through :22.83 for the first quarter-mile and :45.28 for a half-mile.
Making a move around Storm Advisory in the turn, Limousine Liberal took the lead at the top of the stretch with six furlongs going in 1:09.81. Warrior's Club made a late bit down the middle of the track but Limousine Liberal pulled away and crossed the wire first in a final time of 1:22.79 over the fast track. Warrior's Club was second, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Storm Advisory.
The Truth Or Else was fourth and Le Ken was fifth.
"He drew the outside (post) and he has his tactical speed. I thought he was the best horse today and he proved it," Lanerie said of his winning mount.
Favored Limousine Liberal returned $3, $2.20, and $2.10 across the board.
Bred by Mike and Katherine Ball, out of the In Excess (IRE) mare Gift of Gab, the 5-year-old earned his first graded win in May in the Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G2), which started a three-race win streak at Churchill. He returned the next month and won the Aristides Stakes (G3) and then took the Kelly's Landing Overnight Stakes three weeks later.
Limousine Liberal entered the Bet on Sunshine off of back-to-back third-place finishes. In July he was eight lengths behind Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) run-away winner El Deal and in October he was a neck behind Whitmore and Awesome Banner in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. With Saturday's win, he improved his record to 7-5-3 and boosted his earnings to $985,661.