Sports

Del Mar locals have day to remember at Breeders’ Cup

Joel Rosario rides Stormy Liberal to victory in the Turf Sprint horse race during the Breeders' Cup on Saturday in Del Mar.
Joel Rosario rides Stormy Liberal to victory in the Turf Sprint horse race during the Breeders' Cup on Saturday in Del Mar. AP

Trainer Peter Miller and owner Gary Hartunian enjoyed a home-track advantage at Breeders’ Cup XXXIV like no one else. The Californians combined for two upsets on Saturday’s star-studded program at Del Mar.

In the $1 million Turf Sprint, Stormy Liberal ($62.40) – who had not run since June – nosed out stablemate Richard’s Boy to give the connections a 1-2 finish. The exacta paid $277.50 for a $1 bet, but was worth $720,000 to Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, which is based in the Santa Monica hills.

“I claimed Stormy Liberal for $40,000,” Hartunian said. “So, those people (who bet against him) right now are jumping off the Coronado Bridge.”

Miller, 51, trains year-round at nearby San Luis Rey Downs.

“I live 10 minutes away (from Del Mar) in Encinitas,” Miller said. “To run one-two in my first Breeders’ Cup and here at home – it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Until three races later when his Roy H, owned by Hartunian with David Bernsen of San Diego, toppled the nation’s best sprinters in the $1.5 million Sprint. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Roy H paid $11.80. Defending Sprint champion Drefong, who is trained by Bob Baffert, finished sixth.

“I feel like Bob Baffert,” Miller said. “It’s just a dream come true.”

Huge payoffs – In what’s become a Breeders’ Cup tradition, long shots lit up the tote board, including a $135.40 shocker by New York-bred Bar of Gold in the Filly & Mare Sprint. In that race, Jerry Hollendorfer’s Unique Bella, the even-money favorite, finished seventh after setting a hot pace.

Other Saturday upsets included Good Magic (Juvenile, $25), Caledonia Road (Juvenile Fillies, $36.60), Talismanic (Turf, $30.20) and Wuheida (Filly & Mare Turf, $24.40). Both Talismanic and Wuheida are owned by Dubai’s Godolphin Stable.

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington.

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