Let me take you back for a moment to October 16th 2016. Trainer Doug O’Neill may want to forget this day ever happened but this is when Rockingham Ranch and Trainer Peter Miller snatched Stormy Liberal out of a claiming race for $40k. At the time if you look back Stormy Liberal wasn’t a bad horse on paper, he had 14 starts and out of those 8 were in the money finishes. Doug was entering off a layoff of about 6 months like he had previously done before with Stormy Liberal which produced a win and why not follow the same recipe? Sure enough Stormy Liberal won on October 16th 2016 coasting to a victory going away by 2 ¾ lengths. Rockingham Ranch and Peter Miller claimed a horse they had no idea at that time would pan out to be a turf sprinter for the ages.
Maybe it was the racing God’s making things even or was it just a claim of a lifetime? Doug O’Neill is no stranger to this exact set of circumstances because if you remember correctly, he did the very same thing with a horse by the name of Lava Man. Doug Claimed Lava Man for 50k on August 13th 2004 from Lonnie Arterburn. A day I am sure Lonnie would like to forget as well. Lava Man eventually ended up rattling off 5 Grade 1 wins, also placing in other black type and graded stakes, earning over 5 Million dollars.
What was it that Peter Miller saw in Stormy Liberal? How about such an amazing feat to take a 40k claim and produce a 2x Breeders Cup Turf Sprint Champion? That’s one for the ages and something we may never see duplicated by another trainer or horse.
Nobody has ever taken a 40k claimer and turned it into a Breeders Cup winner …….twice. Doug O’Neill did however win the BC Filly and Mare Sprint in 2007 with Mayfield, which was a claim as did Mike Maker with Furthest Land in the BC Dirt Mile in 2009. To do it back to back is unrivaled!
Our Unsung Hero of the Breeders’ Cup in all of this is none other than Peter Miller. There is very little press about Peter and his accomplishments in my opinion. Peter deserves a mention for accomplishing not only what was done with Stormy Liberal but also winning back to back Twin Spires Breeder’s Cup Sprints with Roy H. Let us not forget the fact that both Stormy Liberal and Roy H are both 6 years old which is somewhat of an anomaly these days in racing. Peter Miller has had a year that could be described as one hell of a roller coaster ride.
Peter and Rockingham Ranch had a Liberal steal the show in a year that as far as star power was concerned looked slightly Conservative due to numerous retirements and injuries. High Five to Peter Miller! I am patiently waiting to see where Stormy Liberal ends up racing next. Is there a 3rd Breeder’s Cup in their future? We’ll have to wait and see. Until then Peter Miller is closing in on his 1000th victory as a trainer. Success from hard work knows no boundaries.