03/04/2017 7:41PM

Stormy Liberal survives stewards' inquiry in Joe Hernandez

Benoit & Associates
Stormy Liberal (right), under Norberto Arroyo Jr., noses out Perfectly Majestic in the Joe Hernandez Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Stormy Liberal won Saturday’s $80,035 Joe Hernandez Stakes for his second consecutive victory in a turf sprint stakes at Santa Anita, but only after several anxious minutes when the result was the subject of a stewards’ inquiry.

Sent off favored, Stormy Liberal ($4.60) finished a nose in front 6-1 Perfectly Majestic, who was 1 1/2 lengths clear of 2-1 Danzing Candy. The stewards inquired into an incident nearing the eighth pole when Stormy Liberal drifted to the inside after reaching the lead, forcing jockey Mike Smith to alter course on Danzing Candy.

The stewards did not change the order of finish.

“Nothing is easy in this game,” trainer Peter Miller said.

Miller was in an anxious mood while watching replays of the stretch run on an infield television. The incident was suspenseful enough to leave Miller worried he would lose the race in the stewards’ room.

“Obviously, I think they made the right call,” he said. “We definitely came in on [Danzing Candy].”

Stormy Liberal ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:11.89. Ridden by Norberto Arroyo Jr., Stormy Liberal won the restricted Clocker’s Corner Stakes on the hillside on Jan. 29 for his first career stakes win.

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Arroyo noted after Saturday’s race that Stormy Liberal also drifted to the inside in the Clocker’s Corner.

“He drifts in when he comes out of that turn,” Arroyo said. “Last time, he went all the way to the fence.”

Arroyo said he was not concerned about the inquiry.

“I was flying by those horses,” Arroyo said.

The Joe Hernandez Stakes was the first start for Danzing Candy since he finished second at 1-5 in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes last July. Trained by Bob Baffert, Danzing Candy won the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes last March and was later 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

Danzing Candy led on the hillside of the Joe Hernandez. He was followed in the order of finish by Fabozzi, Clever Royal, Forest Chatter, Forever Juanito, and No Silent.

Stormy Liberal has won 5 of 18 starts and earned $294,970. A 5-year-old gelding by Stormy Atlantic, Stormy Liberal races for Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, who claimed him for $40,000 here in October. Since being claimed, Stormy Liberal has won 2 of 4 starts and earned $126,100.

“He ran a super race when I claimed him,” Miller said. “He’s maintained that form for us.”