Colebrook happy Limousine Liberal made trek from Kentucky
by Jennie Rees
With Lord Nelson scratched Thursday after being treated with antibiotics for an infected cut, trainer Ben Colebrook is really glad that Limousine Liberal shipped from Kentucky for Saturday’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. It was no sure thing that the 4-year-old would make the sojourn after losing Keeneland’s Grade 2 Phoenix by a gut-wrenching nose to streaking A.P. Indian. The inch or so margin was the difference between having an entry fees-paid trip and paying his way.
The Keeneland-based Colebrook said he left the decision up to owners K.K. and Mike Ball, both former trainers. “I just told them the horse was doing well and if they wanted to take a chance, he’s probably worth coming,” Colebrook said Thursday. “Now I’m glad we did with the two scratches.”
Earlier in the week, Belmont’s Grade 1 Vosburgh winner Joking was declared out with a temperature. That leaves a field of seven, which would make it the smallest Sprint field ever. Last year, champion Runhappy mastered a capacity field of 14 at Keeneland.
“I think he’s coming into this race a lot better,” Colebrook said of Limousine Liberal’s second Sprint. “He’s still a bit of a work in progress. Last year, he’d never been in a field that size and faced those kinds of horses. He had a little bit of an inside post, and when that wall of dirt hit him, he was kind of lost. This year, he has an outside post (now 7), and I think he’s more mature and the blinkers last time helped.
“Having Jose Ortiz back helps. Last year, every time he ran he had different rider. It was like nobody got in a real groove with the horse. Jose really knows him, has a lot of confidence in him. I think the key to the horse is you just have to wait and let him decide when he wants to make his run. Not anybody’s fault, but I think the other riders were sensing that when he wasn’t on the lead and it was time to go, they would make him go. And he doesn’t like that. His head would come up. Every rider who got off him always said it felt like there was more there; he just wasn’t giving it to us. I think his last race he really laid down and ran. What I’ve always seen with the horse in the morning, he finally showed in the afternoon.”
Limousine Liberal burst on the scene last year when, after winning a Churchill maiden race and Ellis Park allowance, he finished second in Saratoga’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop behind Runhappy, who also had won an Ellis allowance race. He finished 11th in the Breeders’ Cup. The son of Successful Appeal was equipped in blinkers after finishing seventh in Saratoga’s Forego this year. Then came the Phoenix.
“At first I thought I got beat,” Colebrook said. “Then I thought I won. Then I thought it might be a dead heat. Then I saw he did get beat. So a lot of emotions in the span of 20 seconds.”
The 6-year-old gelding A.P. Indian, the 4-1 fourth choice in the Sprint’s morning line before the two scratches, is unbeaten in six starts after ending 2015 with a sixth in Saratoga’s Tale of the Cat and another sixth in Keeneland’s Phoenix.
“He came out of that with a chip in his knee, so he probably had that chip going into the first race at Saratoga,” said Richard Masson of Versailles, Ky., who with his family bred and owns A.P. Indian in the name of their Green Lantern Stables. “They suggest you give them 60 days after that; we gave him six months. When he came back from that fully rested, he was a different horse.”
A.P. Indian, who is trained in Maryland by Fairhill-based Arnaud Delacour, was scratched from Belmont’s Vosburgh because of the muddy track, running in the Phoenix a week later and nosing out Limousine Liberal. Joe Bravo, aboard for the gelding’s last five races, has the mount.
“It will be tough,” said Masson’s wife, Sue. “There are a lot of good horses in there. But Joe Bravo is really confident in him. He loves him. They’re a good combo. When you have a jockey who is really confident in a horse, your horse runs better. That’s good karma coming in. So we just hope.”
The gelding is out of the same mare as 2015 Indiana Derby winner Tiz Shea D. His third dam was the late Warner Jones’ Fit for a Queen, a popular mare who earned $1.2 million in the early 1990s racing in all the filly and mares stakes around Kentucky.
A. P. Indian, Limousine Liberal photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography
A. P. Indian schooling photo courtesy of Jennie Rees
Jennie Rees is a racing communications specialist from Louisville. Her Breeders’ Cup coverage, which concentrates on the Kentucky horses, is provided free to media as a service by Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park, the Kentucky HBPA and JockeyTalk360.com.