Katherine G. Ball’s Limousine Liberal has been knocking on the door of a stakes win for some time now, and finally got that elusive initial black-type score on Kentucky Derby Day by taking the $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) under jockey Jose Ortiz.
Masochistic dueled with Bluegrass Singer on the front end of the seven-furlong contest. Ortiz settled Limousine Liberal just behind those two through splits of :22.04 and :44.35 before giving him his cue nearing the turn.
The Ben Colebrook trainee ranged up to run in tandem on the outside of Masochistic and Bluegrass Singer rounding the bend. He took over entering the stretch and just held off Awesome Slew, who rallied up the rail to be a head behind in second on the wire.
Limousine Liberal was sent off the 13-1 sixth choice in the 14-strong field and returned $28.40 for finishing seven furlongs over the sloppy, sealed track in 1:23.22.
Tom’s Ready finished third, just three parts of a length behind Awesome Slew, while a head up on Solid Wager in fourth. The Truth Or Else came next and was followed under the line by Clearly Now, Denman’s Call, Schivarelli, Chief of Staff, Apprehender, El Kabeir, Bluegrass Singer, 2-1 favorite Masochistic and Forevamo.
Limousine Liberal entered the Churchill Downs Stakes owning six stakes placings, including a third in the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on April 8 to kick off his five-year-old season. The Successful Appeal gelding also boasts seconds in the 2015 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) and Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) as well as the 2016 editions of the Smile Sprint (G2), Phoenix Stakes (G3) and Aristides Stakes (G3). Along the way he set new track records at Ellis Park in 2015 and Keeneland in 2016.
Bred by Mike and Katherine Ball in Kentucky, Limousine Liberal is now 14-4-5-1 in his career having banked $771,120 in lifetime earnings. The dark bay is out of the In Excess mare Gift of Gab, who is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Uncle Denny.
CHURCHILL DOWNS QUOTES
Jose Ortiz, jockey Limousine Liberal, winner
“It was perfect. He broke and I used him a little bit to get my position. When I saw (Bluegrass Singer) go with Masochistic, my chances increased a lot because I was in a good spot. When we entered in the stretch, he responded very well. It was a great training job by Ben (Colebrook). He told me to just try to sit two lengths off Masochistic. That’s what I did and it worked.”
Ben Colebrook, trainer Limousine Liberal, winner
“It set up for us. It kind of went according to plan for once. The plan was just to follow the two speed horses and try to pounce. We’ve been waiting to get a wet track and it worked out. This horse has been showing up every time. It’s great that he’s finally a graded-stakes winner.”
Joel Rosario, jockey Awesome Slew, second
“I got on the inside and thought for a minute I might get there and just missed a little bit. He ran a big race, especially considering he had an inside post position.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Tom’s Ready, third
“He ran big for his first race since Breeders’ Cup. To run third like he did that’s saying a whole lot. He did it all the right way and you’ve got to be proud of him. He handled the surface great. We got lucky and he kind of caught a flyer leaving there and left really good. The trick to him is he just needs to settle and make one run. That’s when he’s at his best and that’s what he did today. He’ll be better next time now that’s he’s got a race in him.”
Mike Smith, jockey Masochistic, 13th
“He didn’t come away from there. Usually when this horse is going to go, he throws his ears up and goes. Today, he just pinned them (his ears). He hated the track. He couldn’t get a hold of it at all.”
Ron Ellis, trainer Masochistic, 13th
“When I saw he couldn’t make the lead, I knew we were in trouble. Mike (Smith) said he couldn’t get a hold of the track at all.”