Archive for the ‘Jockey Paco Lopez’ Category.

Stakes Triple for Paco Lopez Results in FoundationDetox.com Jockey of the Week Honors

With three stakes wins, including the only Grade 1 event of the week, Paco Lopez was chosen as Jockeys’ Guild Foundation Detox Jockey of the Week for June 17-23, 2019. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by FoundationDetox.com, America’s #1 Equine Toxin Remover.

Click here to read article from Jockey Talk 360.

Paco Lopez was the only North American jockey to win more than one stakes race last week; he picked up wins in three stakes at Monmouth Park. His stakes victories began on Saturday with a win in the $150,000 Eatontown Stakes (G3) with heavy favorite Valedictorian ($3.60) in an easy three-length win.

He returned to the winner’s circle for the feature race and only Grade 1 of the week, the $310,000 United Nations Stakes. Lopez surprised fans and bettors with a win aboard Hunter O’Riley ($30.20), defeating post-time favorite Channel Cat and Bigger Picture, who competed in the race for the fourth time.

He won a third stake on Sunday in the $75,000 Dan Horn Handicap with Golden Brown ($3.80).

With $332,000 earned, Lopez was the leading rider by stakes earnings for the week. He earned $419,853 in total as the second leading rider by total earnings for the week. In 2019, he has earned $2.96 million and has earnings in excess of $88 million in his career to date.

Lopez tied for the third leading rider by wins for the week. He won seven races and finished in the money in half of his 20 starts. Lifetime, he is 2,503 for 12,544 lifetime and has won 72 races in 365 mounts this year.

Golden Brown turns tables on Irish Strait in Dan Horn Handicap

Right out of the gate, the $75,000 Dan Horn Handicap on Sunday at Monmouth Park was a two-horse affair between Irish Strait and Golden Brown.

Click here to read article from DRF.

There were five New Jersey-breds in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, but Irish Strait and Golden Brown swiftly separated themselves from the field with Irish Strait leading through an opening quarter-mile in 23.40 seconds tracked closely by Golden Brown. Jockey Paco Lopez aboard Golden Brown stuck closely with Irish Straight through a half-mile in 46.43, then let his mount settle off the pacesetter as three-quarters went in 1:09.64. Lopez began to ask Golden Brown to pick it up around the turn, and his mount responded willingly to gain ground through the stretch and eventually wear down Irish Strait for a half-length victory. It was 8 1/2 lengths back to Don’s Marsh in third.

The final time over firm turf was 1:40.95 and the winner, sent off at 4-5, returned $3.80. The finish was the inverse of last year’s Dan Horn, in which Irish Strait beat Golden Brown by a half-length.

Golden Brown, trained by Pat McBurney for ABL Stable et al., entered the Dan Horn off a victory in a second-level dirt allowance at Monmouth on May 11. The 4-year-old Offlee Wild colt now owns five wins from 14 starts and has earned $355,000.

McBurney told Monmouth publicity that the Irish War Cry Handicap on July 6 at Monmouth was a possible next target for Golden Brown.

“As it works out, our schedule 13 days from now is another Jersey-bred turf race, so if he bounces out of this good I think we’d be looking at that,” said McBurney. “We’ll stay with Jersey-breds for now with him.”

Valedictorian Follows Dam’s Success in Eatontown

Daughter of Smart N Classy earned her second graded score.

Epic Racing’s Valedictorian returned home to score decisively in the $165,000 Eatontown Stakes (G3T) June 22 at Monmouth Park. The New Jersey-bred mare followed the success of her dam, Smart N Classy, who won the Eatontown in 2005.

This year’s 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares 3 and up marked Valedictorian’s second graded stakes score, giving her three wins in six starts this season.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

A 5-year-old daughter of Temple City trained by Kelly Breen, Valedictorian won her first stakes race nearly a year ago in the Jersey Girl Handicap and added the All Along Stakes at Laurel Park in September. She made the grade this year in the Suwannee River Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 9 and won the Sand Springs Stakes there March 30.

Her lone off-the-board finish this year came in the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2T) May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Returning to form Saturday, Valedictorian was held in second by jockey Paco Lopez, who let Conquest Hardcandy speed to the lead. The two were seven lengths ahead of the other four runners when the first quarter-mile went in :23.77 and remained 4 1/2 lengths in front when a half-mile went in :47.86.

The field came together as three-quarters of a mile went in 1:12.29, and Conquest Hardcandy could not maintain her lead. Remaining up front proved no problem for Valedictorian, who pulled away to cross the wire 2 3/4 lengths in front. The final time was 1:43.70 on a turf course rated good.

Valedictorian paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10 as the 4-5 favorite.

“It wasn’t what I anticipated (with the early speed duel). But she has rated before, so it didn’t worry me,” Breen said. “The worrisome part to me was the time of the race, that they went (fast) the first quarter. It was a legitimate pace.

“Paco rode her smartly. He got her to the outside, she settled, and when I saw that she was doing it well and Paco had his trademark reins dangling, I knew we were OK. I was just worried she would be too sharp off her last couple of workouts, a little too eager. But it worked out fine.

“There are not too many like her. It’s really fun to have her in our barn. She likes it here, but I didn’t know if she would like it today with all of the rain we had—although she did win on a yielding turf at Laurel. But I was concerned about the footing.”

Maid To Remember rallied from last to finish second in a photo finish over Inflexibility. My Sistersledge, Conquest Hardcandy, and Dynatail completed the order of finish.

“I was a little concerned early because I thought I would be the only speed,” Lopez said. “I was fine taking her back and then going outside after that other horse was pushing for the lead. I was worried about the turf course, but it was good. I thought it would be very wet, and it wasn’t. My horse pulled me to the front, and I knew what I had. I just had to get her to relax. She is a nice mare, very consistent.”

Valedictorian was bred by John Bowers, who raced her under the name Roseland Farm Stable with trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. before Red Diamond Stable and trainer Michelle Nihei claimed her for $25,000 in January of her sophomore season. Epic Racing soon bought into Valedictorian, and she made her debut with Breen in August 2017.

Valedictorian has a 12-6-3 record from 28 starts and $672,765 in earnings.

Smart N Classy, by Smart Strike, has produced five winners from five starters, including a 3-year-old daughter of Stay Thirsty named Stay Smart, a Breen trainee who broke her maiden Friday at Monmouth. Smart N Classy last produced a yearling colt named He’spuregold by Vancouver.

Hunter O’Riley Captures United Nations Stakes

Tiz Wonderful gelding posted narrow win over Zulu Alpha in grade 1 turf test.

It had been a while since Hunter O’Riley last visited the winner’s circle, but that hardly mattered June 22 when the 6-year-old gelding returned to top form at a highly opportune time.

Sean Shay and Michael Ryan’s son of Tiz Wonderful rallied strongly in the stretch and recorded a neck victory over Zulu Alpha to capture the $310,000 United Nations Stakes (G1T) at Monmouth Park for his first victory since July 29, 2017.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

“We’re thrilled to get him back in form, and we have some races penciled in for him for the rest of the year that we are very excited about,” trainer Jimmy Toner said. “Coming into this race, he trained as well as he ever has, so I was confident going into the race that he would run good.”

Hunter O’Riley ($30.20) was winless in three 2019 starts before the 66th edition of the U.N., with his best finish a fourth in the Jan. 26 W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park. Those were his first starts since he was sidelined by an injury to a ligament in his pastern suffered after a ninth-place finish in Keeneland’s Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (G2T), his lone outing in 2018.

Toner credited an aggressive ride by Paco Lopez as a key element in the 14-1 victory.

“Paco rode him great. I’m thrilled to death,” Toner said. “He tends to drop into a gallop. He always finishes, but he needs to have someone who keeps him in the race all the way. That was the key to him being able to finish like that.”

Hunter O’Riley was seventh in the field of eight in the early stages while saving ground but then was taken to the outside on the final turn and closed strongly while widest in the stretch to collar Michael Hui’s multiple graded stakes winner Zula Alpha, who had forged to a half-length lead at the eighth pole under Channing Hill.

“At the half-mile, I started to get him outside, and then when I asked him to run, he really gave me what he has. I had good position the whole way. I liked where I was. He fired a little slowly, but then he got rolling,” said Lopez.

Calumet Farm’s Channel Cat, the 9-5 favorite, was third, a half-length behind Zulu Alpha.

The final time for the 1 3/8 miles on a turf course labeled good was 2:17.10 after early fractions of :25.29, :50:36, 1:16.19, and 1:41.46 set by 22-1 shot Arrocha, who wound up sixth.

The victory was the fifth in 22 starts for Hunter O’Riley and increased his earnings to $620,293.

Hunter O’Riley was bred in Kentucky by Mike Rutherford out of the Bernardini mare Oblige, and was the mare’s first of five foals, the most recent of which was a Union Rags filly born Feb. 15. He was purchased by Shay for $50,000 from Niall Brennan Stables’ consignment at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, after going through the ring for $120,000 to Jarazen Stable from Legacy Bloodstock’s consignment at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Toner said the next start for Hunter O’Riley would most likely come at Saratoga Race Course in the July 27 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T), which, appropriately enough, served as the gelding’s last win in 2017.

Hunter O’Riley ends skid in United Nations

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Since winning the Grade 2 Bowling Green in July 2017 at Saratoga, Hunter O’Riley had failed to hit the board in six starts sandwiched around a ninth-month layoff. The long-winded son of Tiz Wonderful had been dropping too far back during his races and was unable to make up the ground when it counted.

Click here to read article from DRF.

That changed on Saturday at Monmouth Park when jockey Paco Lopez kept the 6-year-old in contact with the field during the Grade 1 United Nations while saving ground. He wheeled Hunter O’Riley out five wide on the far turn and then ran down Zulu Alpha to take the 1 3/8-mile turf stakes by a neck.

The win was the first in a Grade 1 for trainer Jimmy Toner since Time and Motion won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in the fall of 2016.

“That was a super ride by Paco,” Toner said of the United Nations. “He saved ground with the field and then tipped him out – maybe a little too far, I thought. But this horse runs better on the outside and at least he wasn’t 15 lengths out of it early.

“The horse has been doing great. He’s been training lights out for this.”

Lopez, a five-time riding champion at Monmouth, has been riding very well since he returned to the saddle June 15 after serving a 30-day suspension for careless riding at Gulfstream Park. The United Nations was Lopez’s third win on the card. He also won the Grade 3 Eatontown and an allowance race. Since his return, Lopez is 8 for 28.

Lopez was happy after the United Nations but downplayed the significance of the most important win of his comeback.

“Whether it’s a Grade 1, a Grade 2, or a $5,000 claimer, I try to win every race all the time,” Lopez said. “I am happy that today I was able to do what Mr. Toner wanted. He told me, ‘Whatever you do, get this horse to the outside.’ ”

Hunter O’Riley is now 5 for 22 and the $180,000 he earned Saturday boosts his earnings to $620,000 for owners Sean Shay and Michael Ryan. The United Nations is his second stakes win.

He had been scheduled to race in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day but was scratched by order of the stewards.

“That was an unfortunate incident,” Toner said. “One of my employees gave the horse some wind [spray] during the course of the day, and security was there, and the rules are you can’t give the horse anything on the day of the race. And, that’s what happened.

“It was very disappointing. Maybe it was a bad thing, good thing since he was able to come back in this race.”

Arrocha was sent from the gate in the United Nations by Antonio Gallardo and made the lead. He was surprisingly tracked by Monarchs Glen, who had lagged far back in his first two starts U.S. starts after having previously raced in Great Britain.

Following fractions of 25.29 seconds, 50.36, 1:16.19, and 1:41.46 over the good course, the field bunched up on the far turn, with Zulu Alpha challenging three wide outside the early leaders and 9-5 favorite Channel Cat bidding for the lead four wide.

Zulu Alpha came away with a short lead over Channel Cat but could not contain Hunter O’Riley, who paid $30.20 while completing the course in 2:17.10 following a 1 1/4-mile split of 2:05.51.

It was a half-length back from Zulu Alpha to Channel Cat in third and 1 1/4 lengths farther back to Bigger Picture, who won the United Nation two years ago. Focus Group, who trailed the field early, finished fifth at 3-1.

Out for a Spin Pulls 52-1 Ashland Shocker

Hard Spun filly turned back Restless Rider April 6 at Keeneland.

Commonwealth Stable’s Out for a Spin pulled off a 52-1 stunner in the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) April 6 at Keeneland.

The 3-year-old daughter of Hard Spun entered stakes competition for the first time Saturday for trainer Dallas Stewart and turned back 5-2 second choice Restless Rider with a gritty run under Paco Lopez after putting away even-money favorite Jaywalk off the turn for home. The final time was 1:44.95.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

The top three should meet again in the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), as both Restless Rider and Jaywalk are expected to continue on to Churchill Downs.

Victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland gave Virginia-bred Out for a Spin 100 points to rank fifth on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. Restless Rider ranks eighth with 62 points, and Jaywalk is 10th with 55 points.

Out for a Spin’s victory was sweet salve on the wound sustained by Stewart just one race prior, when his trainee Cathedral Reader was vanned off and euthanized after sustaining a catastrophic injury to her right front leg during the Madison Stakes (G1).

“In this great game that we have, there are ups and downs, and this is an up,” Stewart said. “Great to have a win today with this big, beautiful filly. She took it (almost) wire-to-wire, and Paco gave her a great ride. We’re going to take (her) to the Kentucky Oaks from here.”

Entered off a 3 3/4-length victory March 16 in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Out for a Spin broke alertly and was forwardly placed three wide into the first turn as Jaywalk took the lead. The eventual winner rated second while the champion 2-year-old filly of 2018 set opening fractions of :23.19, :46.46, and 1:11.60, then Lopez made his move around the far turn.

Out for a Spin took a short lead as Jaywalk began to fade, but Restless Rider, making her first start for trainer Ken McPeek since late November, came to her with a determined run under Brian Hernandez Jr. The two hooked up stride for stride, but Out for a Spin would not be denied the hard-fought decision. She returned $106.20 on a $2 win ticket.

“Dallas told me out of the gate, this filly is fast,” said Lopez, who collected his second stakes score on the Saturday card after winning the $200,000 Shakertown Stakes (G2T) with Imprimis. “I’m really lucky, winning the races like that.”

Out for a Spin now has three wins and a third from five starts, with earnings of $354,903. She was bred by the William M. Backer Revocable Trust out of the Came Home mare My Mammy, the dam of stakes winner Sweet Victory and stakes-placed Ferdinanda. The mare produced an Uncle Mo filly in 2018 and was bred to Malibu Moon for 2019.

Hernandez was proud of Restless Rider, who won the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland in the fall and turned in her third consecutive runner-up effort after seconds in the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Golden Rod Stakes (G2), both at Churchill Downs.

“For a filly that hasn’t run since last November, she stepped up and ran a big race,” the jockey said. “You always want to win these grade 1s, but you’ve gotta be proud of her and look forward to the Oaks. (At the end) she kept fighting. From the sixteenth pole home, she was getting tired, but she kept digging and fighting at (Out for a Spin). (Restless Rider) wanted to win, and she laid it all out there.”

“This sets us up good for the Kentucky Oaks,” McPeek said. “We are in a good position for the next dance. We are pleased.”

John Servis, the trainer of Jaywalk, echoed McPeek’s sentiments regarding his own runner.

“I was very happy with her effort. I think this sets her up for the Kentucky Oaks,” he said. “She is right where we want her to be. Hindsight being 20-20, I wish we would have sat off the pace a little bit. I thought she was the best filly. I told Javier to put her on the lead. She got pressured from the outside (horses). At the sixteenth pole when they spread out, she went to running again. Javier said we would have been better off if we sat off the pace.”

Imprimis overcomes stumble to score in Shakertown

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The first step was a doozy, but Imprimis somehow recovered to proceed to a rousing victory Saturday in the 23rd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Shakertown Stakes on the huge Blue Grass Stakes card at Keeneland.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Imprimis, the 5-2 second choice in a field of 13 older turf sprinters, was up in the final yards to prevail by a neck over Bound for Nowhere, the 8-5 favorite and 2018 Shakertown winner.

“He stumbled bad,” jockey Paco Lopez said of the first step out of the starting gate for Imprimis.

“For sure we took the worst of it, and it left us with a lot to do,” said Joe Orseno, who trains the 5-year-old gelding for Breeze Easy LLC. “But he’s a horse who’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s such a nice horse.”

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Imprimis paid $7.20 after finishing the 5 1/2-furlong distance in 1:02.33 over a firm turf. Bound for Nowhere, who put away speedy challengers such as Bay Muzik and Latent Revenge when opening up at the furlong pole, ran huge in his first start in six months.

“That was a tough beat,” said trainer Wesley Ward.

Behind Bound for Nowhere, it was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Angaston in third, with Chaos Theory fourth and Will Call fifth. Disco Partner, the 7-2 third choice and the leading earner in the lineup, was never a factor when ninth.

Orseno said the Group 1 King’s Stand at the Royal Ascot meet in June is the next main target for Imprimis, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Broken Vow. “It’s an exciting plan, but not too ambitious, we don’t think,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be there.”

Imprimis now has won seven of nine career starts, with the Shakertown becoming his first graded win. The gelding was coming off a swift triumph in the ungraded Silks Run at his home base, Gulfstream Park.

Orseno, the East Coast-based veteran who has enjoyed a career resurgence over the last couple of years or so after consolidating his stable in Florida, last won a stakes at Keeneland in 2000, when Collect the Cash took the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

The $2 exacta (11-9) paid $20.60, the $1 trifecta (11-9-13) returned $183.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (11-9-13-12) was worth $158.80.

America’s Tale Upsets Inside Information At Gulfstream

Fair Grounds shipper America’s Tale may have taken many bettors by surprise when she pulled off an 11-1 upset victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Inside Information (G2), but owner Naveed Chowhan and trainer Bernie Flint are no strangers to winning graded stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report

Chowhan, who posed for pictures in the winner’s circle following America’s Tale’s 1 ¼-length triumph in the seven-furlong stakes for older fillies and mares, got his first taste of graded-stakes success at Gulfstream in the 2000 Deputy Minister Stakes (G3).

“Actually, the very first stakes race that I won was at Gulfstream. I used to have a horse many years ago by the name of Deep Gold. He was a sprinter also,” Chowhan said. “He was trained by Bernie Flint also. Bernie and I have been together for all these years and he’s put all the hard work into these horses and it’s paid off.”

America’s Tale won her first graded stakes in the Inside Information while winning her third stakes in her last four starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Gio Ponti, whose prior stakes victories were achieved in front-running fashion, was taken off the pace by jockey Paco Lopez, who positioned the Kentucky-bred filly in an outside stalking position. Razorback Lady set the pace along the backstretch, posting fractions of 22.68 and 45.94 seconds for the first half mile, with Tequilita, the 9-5 favorite, in hot pursuit.

Razorback Lady and Tequilita waged a head-to-head battle into the stretch, where America’s Tale loomed boldly while making quick progress to their outside. The Louisiana shipper continued on and drew off to her fourth win in her last five starts.

“I was a little concerned because she usually likes to run out front and she wasn’t out front in the beginning. But Paco thought she would rather like the outside instead of being inside horses and I think he was right,” Chowhan said. “She’s been really good for us. She’s been training great. For the past couple months, we couldn’t find a race near New Orleans for her, so this is her distance and we’re glad we shipped her down here.”

America’s Tale ran seven furlongs in 1:24.08.

“The owner said to me, ‘Send her, I want her 1 or 2,’ but my filly didn’t want to go inside. I took her outside and sat outside horses and in the stretch, when I asked her I had plenty of horse,” Lopez said. “She’s a very nice filly.”

Razorback Lady finished second under Julien Leparoux, a head in front of Tequilita and jockey Luis Saez.

America’s Tale Makes the Grade in Inside Information

Gio Ponti filly completed seven-furlong test in 1:24.08.

After an off-the-board finish in her 2019 debut, Naveed Chowhan’s America’s Tale bounced back in a big way to win the $200,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2) March 16 at Gulfstream Park.

Click here to read the article from Blood Horse.

Guided by jockey Paco Lopez in the seven-furlong event, the 4-year-old Gio Ponti filly broke midpack in the eight-horse field and kept close to the rail. Razorback Lady sprinted to the front from the break and battled with Tequilita as six furlongs went in fractions of :22.68, :45.94, and 1:10.84.

Slowly gaining ground, America’s Tale shifted out three wide and made her move at the top of the lane, passing Pink Sands in the stretch to come within striking distance of Razorback Lady. Dueling with the leader through the final yards, America’s Tale managed to edge clear and finally pulled away to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Razorback Lady in a final time of 1:24.08.

“I was a little concerned because she usually likes to run out front, and she wasn’t out front in the beginning,” Chowhan said. “But Paco thought she would rather like the outside instead of being inside horses, and I think he was right.”

“The owner said to me, ‘Send her. I want her 1 or 2,’ but my filly didn’t want to go inside,” Lopez said. “I took her outside and sat outside horses, and in the stretch, when I asked her, I had plenty of horse. She’s a very nice filly.”

A head behind Razorback Lady was Tequilita in third. Pink Sands, Jala Jala, Pacific Gale, Teresa Z, and Cairenn completed the order of finish.

Sent off at odds of 11-1, America’s Tale returned $24.40, $12.40, and $8.40.

“She’s been really good for us,” Chowhan said. “She’s been training great. For the past couple months, we couldn’t find a race near New Orleans for her, so this is her distance and we’re glad we shipped her down here.”

The win was a special moment for Chowhan, who has had a long-standing and successful partnership with America’s Tale’s trainer, Bernie Flint.

“The very first stakes race that I won was at Gulfstream,” Chowhan said. “I used to have a horse many years ago by the name of Deep Gold. He was a sprinter, also. He was trained by Bernie Flint, also. Bernie and I have been together for all these years and he’s put all the hard work into these horses, and it’s paid off.”

Bred in Kentucky by Madeline Auerbach and Catherine Parke, America’s Tale is out of the stakes-winning Unusual Heat mare America’s Friend. The mare foaled a Palace Malice colt in 2018 and was bred to Runhappy for 2019.

America’s Tale was purchased for $100,000 by Chowhan from the consignment of Eisaman Equine to the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. She has a 6-3-1 record from 17 starts and $390,853 in earnings, and earned black type at 3 in the Safely Kept Stakes and Tiffany Lass Stakes.

Roy H Sparkles in Palos Verdes Return

Champion sprinter Roy H put on a clinic Jan. 19 at Santa Anita Park.

The 7-year-old More Than Ready gelding didn’t seem to require much direction from jockey Paco Lopez in the $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (G2), his first start since notching his second consecutive win in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. With the cool poise of a seasoned professional, Roy H cruised in a perfect stalking spot just outside the leader, inhaled that rival around the far turn, and drew off under wraps in a sparkling final time of 1:08.89.

Click here to read article from BloodHorse.

Lopez, who perched nearly motionless in the saddle through the race’s entire six furlongs, had three words to sum up his mount’s ability: “He’s a machine.”

Roy H broke sharply from the far outside in a field of six older horses, tracked his fellow Peter Miller trainee Conquest Tsunami and rival St. Joe Bay through a quick quarter in :21.44 and a half in :44.35, reeled in those two heading into the far turn, and galloped the final furlong to win in hand.

“The track’s been playing (slow), and he was just cruising,” said Miller, who is expected to collect Roy H’s second consecutive Eclipse Award as the nation’s top sprinter Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park. “He runs today in 1:08 and four (fifths). … I hope he didn’t run too fast.”

Roy H took the Palos Verdes for the second straight year, adding to a résumé for Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen that includes seven graded scores, four of them grade 1 events. His record stands at 10-5-2 from 23 starts, with earnings of $3,139,765.

“He’s a pro’s pro, you know?” Miller said. “He’s the LeBron James of sprinters. … In the words of (the late sportscaster) Chick Hearn, he’s as cool as the other side of the pillow. Nothing bothers him. He’s an unbelievable horse. He’s a thing of beauty.”

Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, Roy H paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10. Kanthaka, making his first start against older horses, closed to overtake Conquest Tsunami late for second. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to the pacesetter, who rounded out the trifecta.

“You could see going to the three-eighths (pole), he was just cruising,” Lopez said. “He loves to run, and I had a whole lotta horse the whole way. He definitely ran as good today as he did in the Breeders’ Cup. He was just incredible.

“He’s a bullet, that horse. … He was flying today.”

Roy H was bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass out of the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Diva, and was a $310,000 purchase from Wavertree Stables’ consignment to the 2014 Keeneland April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. Ciaran Dunne pinhooked him to the sale after picking him up for $115,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Claiborne Farm.

“I gotta start working out with Roy because he’s running circles around all of us,” Hartunian said. “He’s just found a perfect match. Pete Miller is a great sprint trainer, and Roy H might go down as one of the better sprinters ever.”

Last year, Roy H finished third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1) at Meydan. After his impressive performance Saturday, a return trip remains in the cards.

“We’re gonna try Dubai again, and hopefully we can get it right this time,” Miller said.

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