Limousine Liberal Rides Into Smile Sprint in Good Form
Limousine Liberal Rides Into Smile Sprint in Good Form by Reinier Macatangay: Because the race lacks any standout stars, for better or worse bettors will find a challenging seven-horse field in the $250,000 Smile Sprint Stakes (GII) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Older horses and one three-year-old colt will go six furlongs around the main track, and the most “well-known” runner is Limousine Liberal.
Katherine Ball’s 4-year-old gelding, trained by Ben Colebrook, put on quite a performance at Churchill Downs. He finished a determined second in the Aristides Stakes (GIII) to a true “horse-for-course” opponent.
“He ran a good race last time; he just couldn’t get there. That horse that beat him was pretty game – Alsvid – loves Churchill,” Colebrook said in the press release.
The pace was slow for the level, as the leader Union Jackson opened in 22.08 and 45.10 seconds for the half mile, which is not a swift tempo for graded stakes sprinters. Alsvid laid closer to Union Jackson and made first run, while Limousine Liberal took a second longer to hit the accelerator. The difference in position meant Alsvid won.
Two races ago, on the surface Limousine Liberal threw in a clunker when finishing sixth in the Churchill Downs Stakes (GII) after setting the pace. Ironically, the gelding earned a TimeformUS Speed Figure of 121, his highest of the season. Good horses such as Catalina Red, Calculator, Kobe’s Back and Salutos Amigos were in the race.
Last year, Limousine Liberal also came close to picking up a graded stakes win a few times, but as the trainer explained, he had some tough luck and competition.
“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 Runhappy, other than Runhappy came to Saratoga to run – that was the only unlucky part.”
The Smile Sprint lacks a horse capable of matching Runhappy’s best form, giving Limousine Liberal a good chance from post three. Still, a couple of them equal Limousine Liberal in talent and should not go overlooked.
For example, the rail horse Delta Bluesman is trained by Jorge Navarro, and on paper, the six-year-old gelding looks probable to gun from the opening break again as in his last few races. He has held uncontested leads at the first call three times in a row, and looks like a dangerous theft option again.
Next to him, trainer David Jacobson sends out the 5-year-old gelding Eighty Three, and in his recent start he did not lose to Delta Bluesman by much. Not that it matters now, but it is interesting he once cost $250,000.
In post four, Storming Inti attempts to steer his form in the right direction. The one-time promising juvenile turf runner, and now struggling 5-year-old gelding, once put together a four-race win streak in 2013 and early 2014.
Meanwhile, from post five, Chief Lion brings a current three-race win streak into this event. As with Delta Bluesman, Chief Lion enjoys winging out on the lead, and it is interesting to wonder if a duel will develop.
More Applause begins from the sixth slot, and he does not possess the class to threaten these horses.
The lone 3-year-old colt, Copingaway, starts from the outside. While it may be easy to dismiss him at first glance, young horses sometimes improve dramatically in form, although this one had 22 chances to show his best.
Limousine Liberal needs to repeat either of his past two efforts, and if so, should be in prime position heading towards the finish line. Otherwise, Delta Bluesman, Eighty Three and Chief Lion are capable of a minor upset.
Smile Sprint Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 11 4:58p.m. ET
1 Delta Bluesman 5-2 Jaramillo/Navarro
2 Eighty Three 3-1 Velasquez/Jacobson
3 Limousine Liberal 2-1 Saez/Colebrook
4 Storming Inti 30-1 Rios/Antonucci
5 Chief Lion 7-2 Esquivel/Jacobson
6 More Applause 20-1 Gaffalione/Estevez
7 Copingaway 30-1 Castro/Mejia