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Stormy Liberal gained back-to-back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with a gutsy display in the five-and-a-half furlong Grade One at Churchill Downs.
Peter Miller’s six-year-old gelding went head to head with long-time leader World Of Trouble in the straight and the 6-1 shot wore away at his rival to get the upper hand close home to score in the hands of Drayden Van Dyke.
British raider Havana Grey was smartly out of the stalls but Karl Burke’s grey lost out to World Of Trouble, the 7-2 favourite, early on and could not get competitive after that.
Havana Grey’s rider PJ McDonald said: “He broke great and I had a lovely pitch, but I was forced inside by the horse that finished second and after that my goose was cooked.”
Burke said: “We were leading, but the second horse took us out. I’m sure he would have done better without that happening.”
Disco Partner was third and Ruby Notion fourth, while Aidan O’Brien’s runner Lost Treasure made no show.
Godolphin’s Wild Illusion was denied in the final strides by Sistercharlie in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Sistercharlie, trained by Chad Brown, came from off the pace to nail the favourite after it looked as though Wild Illusion would emulate Wuheida, who lifted this prize for trainer Charlie Appleby and William Buick last year.
Wild Illusion proved reluctant to go into the stalls and missed a beat the start. Buick had to roust to get a good position as the winner’s stablemate A Raving Beauty made the running, with O’Brien’s Magic Wand close to the pace.
Though Wild Illusion got to the front she was reeled in by John Velazquez on Sistercharlie. A Raving Beauty stuck on for third, with Magic Wand fourth.
Appleby, who is looking forward to training Wild Illusion as a four-year-old, said: “She has lost nothing in defeat, and the winner is the filly who I thought was going to be our big danger.
“You could see she was making good inroads after following us through the race.
“Now we will try to reboot for next year and obviously she is a very nice horse to have around.”
Buick said: “I felt I was in a good spot and comfortable all the way through the race, and all in all I was delighted with her. We have been beaten by a good filly, who I knew was tracking me the whole way.
“I just hoped when I kicked, that we had enough of a lead, but it wasn’t quite enough.
“She’s had a great season, and has lost nothing in defeat here.”
Brown, who had five in the race, said: “Thais was in there to ensure a good pace. She missed the break standing in there too long and couldn’t get on the lead.
“Sistercharlie knows where the wire is. She has a lot of heart and lunged for the line. She’s a winner.”