Stormy Liberal: Breeders’ Cup clues in shock winner’s pedigree?

There were some unexpected results at the Breeders’ Cup, with those beaten including Arrogate in his bid to retain his crown in the Classic, Bolt d’Oro who lost his unbeaten record in the Juvenile and Lady Aurelia who was strongly fancied to win the Turf Sprint. The last-named contest, run over five furlongs this year (the distance of the race changes according to the configuration of the host track) went to Stormy Liberal, a 40/1-shot who beat fellow five-year-old gelding Richard’s Boy by a head, the pair of them trained by Peter Miller who also won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Roy H.

Stormy Liberal has an interesting pedigree. Miller had picked the son of Stormy Atlantic out of a claimer at Santa Anita just over twelve months earlier for $40,000 but he had been a $100,000 yearling and comes from an excellent family with a record of Breeders’ Cup success. His great grandam Luv Luvin’ (out of a half-sister to champion 1969 US two-year-old Silent Screen) produced eight winners, among them Dixie Fine who won the first five starts of her career, all on dirt. Her first four wins all came at Remington Park, including the Remington Park Oaks, while her fifth and final win came when dead-heating at Del Mar in another listed contest, the CERF Stakes. Dixie Fine went on to produce Stormy Liberal’s dam Vassar who raced in France where her only win came in a maiden at Cagnes-sur-Mer over seven and a half furlongs.

Vassar had a successful record as a broodmare before Stormy Liberal came along. His full brother Coast Guard finished third in the Santa Anita Derby and is now standing as a stallion in Washington, while half-sister Shimmering Moment (by Afleet Alex) began her career in Britain, winning a maiden at Salisbury for Sir Henry Cecil, went on to win a listed race at Dundalk when trained in Ireland, and was then placed in Grade 3 contests back in the States.

Returning to Stormy Liberal’s great grandam, Luv Luvin’s most influential daughters at stud were Or Vision and Brigid, both winners in France for Stavros Niarchos. Or Vision, who won two listed races, including the Prix Imprudence, produced the Prix de la Foret winner and July Cup runner-up Dolphin Street and the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Saffron Walden, as well as Insight, winner of the then Group 2 Prix de l’Opera and third in the Prix de Diane at three and successful in the E. P. Taylor Stakes at four when she contested the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Brigid’s notable winners were the Group 1-winning two-year-old fillies Sequoyah and Listen, winners of the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Fillies’ Mile respectively. Both were by Sadler’s Wells, like Saffron Walden and Insight. Sequoyah became dam of the top miler Henrythenavigator, winner of the 2000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes but who found only Raven’s Pass too good in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic on the pro-ride surface at Santa Anita.

The one who made the breakthrough at the Breeders’ Cup for this family was its third Irish 2000 Guineas winner Magician. He was a grandson of Brigid’s unraced daughter Lady Windermere. Despite his dam and grandam both being daughters of July Cup winners (Mozart and Lake Coniston) Magician stayed well enough to become the first of his sire Galileo’s three Breeders’ Cup Turf winners to date when successful in 2013.

The other Group 1 winner descending from Luv Luvin’ is the 2009 Dewhurst Stakes winner Beethoven, a son of the Irish listed winner Queen Titi who is out of Litani River, a full sister to Or Vision and Brigid.

So much for Stormy Liberal’s family. His pedigree is also interesting because it features the broodmare Crimson Saint on both sides. She’s the dam of Terlingua, winner of the Del Mar Debutante Stakes among other races, who became the dam of Storm Cat (runner-up in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), Stormy Liberal’s grandsire. Crimson Saint also bred a Breeders’ Cup winner, as she’s dam of the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Royal Academy who sired the 2001 winner of the same race, Val Royal. Royal Academy is the sire of Stormy Liberal’s dam Vassar.

Royal Academy shuttled to Australia during his stallion career and left his mark there as the sire of Black Caviar’s sire Bel Esprit (himself a Group 1-winning sprinter) and of Fastnet Rock’s dam Piccadilly Circus.

Crimson Saint was a phenomenally fast filly who won seven of her eleven races. Her win in the Ballerina Stakes at Oaklawn equalled the world record time for four furlongs and she also set a track record for five furlongs at Hollywood. While Royal Academy was a $3.5m purchase by Vincent O’Brien, making him the most expensive yearling of 1988, his lesser-known brother Laa Etaab had been sold for exactly twice that sum as a yearling three years earlier – lesser known because he never raced. More successful was Terlingua’s brother Pancho Villa who was a Grade 2 winner at seven furlongs and a mile, placed in Grade 1 company, and equalled Hollywood’s six-furlong record.

More recent Group 1 winners in Europe descending from Crimson Saint, who lived to the age of 32, are the Racing Post Trophy winner Crowded House, the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes winner Reckless Abandon and the 2017 Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Brando whose half-sister Ticker Tape won the American Oaks and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.