Top Sprinters on Tap in Stoll Keenon Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland

Phoenix-Stakes-OddsThe Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (GII), a six-furlong test which secures a spot in the gate for the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI), takes place at Keeneland on Friday. The two headliners are Whitmore and Limousine Liberal, who have previously qualified for the World Championships by virtue of their victories in the Forego Stakes (GI) and Belmont Sprint Championship (GII), respectively. Whitmore’s Forego win secures him a spot in the Dirt Mile, however, so his connections are surely hoping he’ll earn a spot for the Sprint with a victory here.

Five-year-old Whitmore, who is trained by Ron Moquett (who also owns a share of the horse, along with Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners), seeks to become the seventh runner to win this race in consecutive years after having emerged victorious a year ago. Additionally, Work All Week (2014) and Runhappy (2015) are the only two Phoenix Stakes winners to have gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, though Wise Dan won this race in 2010 before going on to win two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GIT) in 2012 and 2013.

Whitmore has an impressive record at the distance (12-9-1-1), which is only slightly better than Limousine Liberal’s (11-3-4-2). Both have wins on off tracks, too. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call on Whitmore once again and the two will break from post position two.

Katherine Ball’s Limousine Liberal, who is trained by Ben Colebrook, won the Churchill Downs Stakes (GII) over a sloppy track on Kentucky Derby Day while with Whitmore 3 ¼ lengths back in fourth that day. The 6-year-old son of Successful Appeal then won the Belmont Sprint before finishing third behind Whitmore in the Forego last out on Aug. 25. Jose Ortiz rides Limousine Liberal, who drew post position four.

Aside from the two already set to race under the Twin Spires in a month, four others will attempt to become the third Phoenix winner in history to go on and win the Breeders’ Cup.

The top threat to the top two is Robert Baron’s 3-year-old Promises Fulfilled, who carries a two-race graded stakes-winning streak — in the Amsterdam Stakes (GIII) and H. Allen Jerkens Stakes — into his first start against older horses. Luis Saez has the mount and it’s a good bet the pair will be gunning for the front from their innermost post position.

The Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix will go as the eighth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 4:57 p.m. ET post time.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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