05/27/2017 5:57PM

Stormy Liberal notches first graded stakes triumph

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Benoit & Associates
Norberto Arroyo Jr. rides Stormy Liberal to victory in the Daytona on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Stormy Liberal is the king of the hill.

For the fourth straight time this year, Stormy Liberal on Saturday won a downhill turf sprint stakes race at Santa Anita, but his victory in the $147,000 Daytona was the most significant to date, as it was his first graded stakes win, with the Daytona being a Grade 3 event.

The Daytona was reduced to four horses by the scratches of Eddie Haskell on Friday and then Roy H earlier Saturday; as a result, there was no show wagering. Stormy Liberal ($3), the 1-2 favorite, pressed the pace outside Blackjackcat and Ambitious Brew, then held a safe margin over Ambitious Brew the length of the stretch after Blackjackcat retreated. He won by a neck, with Ambitious Brew second by 1 1/2 lengths over Blackjackcat. Home Run Kitten trailed.

Stormy Liberal was timed in 1:12.43 for about 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill. Norberto Arroyo Jr. was aboard, as he had been for victories earlier this meet in the Clockers Corner, Joe Hernandez, and Siren Lure.

“He’s the best claim I’ve ever made,” said trainer Peter Miller, who claimed Stormy Liberal on behalf of Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch in October after the horse was recommended to him by David Lanzman, a horse owner who is friends with both Miller and Hartunian.

“He ran a 100 Beyer the day we got him, so I don’t know if he’s gotten better or stayed the same,” Miller said. “He’s maintained his form. We got lucky. We caught someone stealing.”

Stormy Liberal was claimed when returning from a six-month layoff. He won that day, then was second in a pair of races for Miller before embarking on his current win streak.

Stormy Liberal, 5, is a gelding by Stormy Atlantic. He has now won seven times in 20 starts, and is 7 for 12 coming down the hill. He earned $90,000 on Saturday to bring his career earnings to $432,070, but he has won $232,200 this year alone, quite the return on investment for a $40,000 claim.