Oh brother! Stormy Liberal to meet half-sib Leinster in RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint

Jennie Rees

Photo: Leinster won his stakes debut in Saratoga's Grade 3 Troy over Disco Partner. Chris Rahayel/Coglianese Photography

Totally Boss video

RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs barn notes: Aug. 21, 2019

  • Half-sibs Stormy Liberal, Leinster to meet in G3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint
  • May Lily blossoming heading into G3 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint
  • Kallio takes next step in G3 Three Chimneys Ladies Turf

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2019) — Besides attracting some of America’s finest sprinters on grass — including Stormy Liberal, the two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner and 2018 Eclipse Award male grass champion — Kentucky Downs’ $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint shapes up as featuring a unique subplot:

Stormy Liberal taking on his kid brother Leinster, winner of Saratoga’s Grade 3 Troy Stakes in his last start.

Both horses are out of the Royal Academy mare Vassar, who managed only a maiden victory in seven European starts but clearly has something going for her as a broodmare with turf sprinters. The Peter Miller-trained Stormy Liberal, now 7, is a son of Hill ’n’ Dale Farms’ Storm Cat stallion Stormy Atlantic, while the 4-year-old Leinster is by the A.P. Indy stallion Majestic Warrior, who started out at Ashford Stud but now is a sire in Japan.

“That’ll be pretty interesting,” Rusty Arnold, trainer of Leinster, said of horses produced from the same mare going in the same stakes, while also coming in from separate barns and from separate coasts. “That doesn’t happen often.”

Arnold also plans to run the promising Totally Boss in the six-furlong RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, with that 4-year-old gelding coming off victory in Ellis Park’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint, his first stakes victory. That triumph gave Totally Boss an entry fees-paid spot in the Sept. 7 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint.

“You’d probably like to separate them, but you don’t get many chances to run for $700,000,” Arnold said. “The timing worked out for both from when they ran. Totally Boss won his way in, and the other one will now get in after winning a graded stakes. So we’re going to run them both there.”

The RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint winner gets a free roll in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, thanks to the stakes being part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series’ “Win and You’re In” program. Arnold said that absolutely is another factor in running both horses.

“No question, with the Win and You’re In,” he said. “You don’t know which one will get the best trip. You don’t know what will happen. I talked to both groups, and they’re fine with it. I feel like it’s our best opportunity for both of them.”

If one should win, Arnold said another incentive becomes the $1 million offered by Kentucky Downs if the RUNHAPPY winner also takes Keeneland’s Grade 2 Woodford and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. “Obviously that would be a great factor,” Arnold said. “However, I know it’s an old cliche that you’ve got to take one race at a time.”

Leinster and Totally Boss won their first stakes a day apart, Leinster in the Aug. 3 Troy his first time even running in a stakes and Totally Boss the next day at Ellis Park, when he rallied to defeat 2018 winner Jazzy Times by a half-length in a course record 1:00.26 for 5 1/2 furlongs. Both horses are a testament to patience.

Owned by Amy Dunne, Leinster needed 14 attempts to break his maiden, with his first 11 starts — all last year before being sent to Arnold — and 12 of his first 13 coming on dirt. When he did finally finish first, it wasn’t in a maiden race but against winners in an allowance.

“It took awhile for him to get to what he wanted to do,” Arnold said. “But the Dunnes wanted him to go to the grass and sprint. That’s the only reason he came from Wayne (Lukas) to me. Wayne got unlucky with him. He had him in sprinting on the grass three times, and it rained it off the turf all three times. I got him, and I couldn’t get him in a sprint on grass. I tried him long. He didn’t want to do it. I sprinted him on the dirt. He didn’t want to do it. There wasn’t a (maiden turf sprint) at Keeneland, so I put him in an (entry-level allowance) and he got on the also-eligible list. There was one scratch the morning of the race. He drew into the12 hole from the 13 hole and here you go.”

Leinster won that day, followed by a second-level allowance victory, which was followed by the Troy. In the stakes he defeated the very good turf sprinters Disco Partner and Pure Sensation.

“He went through his stuff pretty quick once he started sprinting on turf,” Arnold said.

Totally Boss, owned by Jim and Susan Hill, earned his first win in his fourth attempt sprinting on dirt, getting on the turf two starts later. He made a huge step forward this year, being a nose away from 4-for-4, losing by inches an open allowance race won by multiple graded-stakes winner Om.

“His race at Ellis was big, but the day he got beat was his best,” Arnold said. “He ran unbelievably good. He was stopped, blocked, run into, everything that could happen and he got beat an inch. And that’s some kind of nice horse that won that race. He’s probably a Breeders’ Cup horse himself.

“Totally Boss came right back and repeated it in the race at Ellis. He had to make up a lot of ground and he ran fast. He’s really a nice horse. He’s probably unlucky not to have won all four of his starts this year.

“He’s been a pretty good horse, when you go back. Brian Lynch started him, and it took him a while to come around. I think he had to be gelded, and I got to be the beneficiary of that because Brian left him with me in great shape. He couldn’t have been any better.”

G3 SPENDTHRIFT FARM LADIES SPRINT: May Lily blossoming

May Lily video

Trainer Greg Foley wondered if the 5 1/2-furlong distance of Ellis Park’s Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Sprint would be a bit short for May Lily. But the 5-year-old mare reeled in heavy favorite Surrender Now to prevail by a head for her first stakes victory.

Now May Lily will try to win her second stakes in Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint, a Grade 3 race at a 6 1/2-furlong distance Foley believes the mare will relish. The Ladies Sprint is one of five stakes, four of them graded, on Kentucky Downs’ Sept. 7 showcase card at America’s most unique race meet.

The winners of the five stakes on Ellis' Kentucky Downs Preview Day received an automatic fees paid-entry in the corresponding stakes at Kentucky Downs.

“I think 6 1/2 distance-wise will suit her very well,” Foley said at his Churchill Downs barn. “I have no idea who is going to be in it. For a half-million, somebody is going to be in there. We’re going to take a swing at it anyway. She run hard. She’s doing well. She ran good over there at Kentucky Downs last year, was second in an allowance race. That means a lot, too.”

May Lily always has been an honest horse, grinding out almost $200,000 before the Ellis Park race with two prior allowance victories scattered among a bunch of seconds and thirds. Until Aug. 4, she’d only been in one prior stakes, finishing fourth in a four-horse charge to the wire in the 2018 Ellis Park Turf, losing by a total of three-quarters of a length. In the KDP Ladies Sprint under jockey Gabriel Saez, May Lily got the best of a four-horse horse photo while matching her prior career-best Bris speed figure of 92. She also turned the tables on the Peter Miller-trained Surrender Now, who had beaten May Lily by three lengths in an Ellis Park allowance race in their prior start.

“She ran big at Ellis Park,” Foley said. “He put her up in the race a little earlier and she still had enough kick to win. I mean, that was a good race; they were all right there. That filly of Peter Miller’s, I think she’s a good filly. She’s fast.”

May Lily is out of the same mare, Bobby’s Babe, as Zapperini, who the previous year lost a photo in the Kentucky Downs Preview Kentucky Turf Cup. She was bred and is owned by Foley's long-time clients Fred Schwartz, Jim Bakke and Tim Sweeney. That partnership, which races under the name of Lloyd Madison Farms IV — a shout out to the principal owners’ Madison, Wisconsin roots — also campaigned Foley’s multiple graded stakes-winner Champali.

“The first horse I ever bought for them (in 1996), his name was Double Mint,” Foley said. “He was an Ohio-bred, of all things. I bought him out of the sale cheap and he won the first time, or two and we wound up selling him. After that, we bought a couple, two, three babies at the sale every year. That’s where Bobby’s Babe came. She was a nice little filly — not as good as May Lily. Big pretty filly. She made a good mare. Those people are the best.

“Bobby’s Babe has pretty babies, and they can all run.”

G3 THREE CHIMNEYS LADIES TURF: Kallio steps up

Kallio video

Kallio finally got some pace to run behind and also earned her first stakes on Ellis Park’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Day, taking the Ladies Turf by a neck over the front-running Classy Act. Now she’s likely to go in the $500,000, Grade 3 Three Chimneys Ladies Turf at a mile on Sept. 7, though trainer Brendan Walsh hasn’t completely ruled out running in the $500,000 Ramsey Farm at 1 5/16 miles on Sept. 12, closing day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.

“We’re looking at both races, because she won going a mile and five-sixteenths there last year,” Walsh said of Kallio's maiden victory at Kentucky Downs. “But the other one is first, and I think we’re leaning toward that, the mile race. She’s doing great. Since she ran, she’s doing super. Hopefully she can improve a little bit again. She deserves a chance. Either stakes wouldn’t bother me, really. But I’m inclined to stick with the mile race — and it’s a stiff mile there, too. And we know she handles the track and is doing well. It’s all systems go unless we hit a bump at some point."

Kallio is owned by Madaket Stables, Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron and Bradley Thoroughbreds. Before her stakes victory, Kallio was a fast-closing fourth - beaten a total of three heads -- after having to run into a slow pace in the Ellis Park Turf. In the Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf, the half-mile split picked up to 46.76 seconds from the 49.38 in the prior race, with Kallio rolling through the stretch to reel in Classy Act.

“That was a good day of racing, and she ran great," Walsh said. "She’s really improved, really getting everything together. I think we’re set for another step-up, hopefully.”