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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.”

In celebration of DRF’s 125th anniversary, you can pick up a copy of the print edition for just $5 at Keeneland and Lexington-area locations

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.

Roy H Sails to Victory in Breeders’ Cup Sprint

3079c64c5a594c54a7b637c3b6a25dfbVictory was second consecutive win in six-furlong test for son of More Than Ready.

Less than two hours after Peter Miller sat down in the Breeders’ Cup press room to field questions about his two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Stormy Liberal Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, the California-based trainer was back in the hot seat.

Click here to read the article from BloodHorse.

Smiling for the camera during his second round of interviews, Miller expressed his appreciation for TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) victor Roy H.

“(He’s) just a sound horse,” Miller said. “Just a real solid, sound horse. He brings it every time, and I couldn’t be more proud. Words don’t even express my feelings.”

Though the field for this year’s Sprint was almost identical to last year’s, the start was considerably more bumpy for Roy H. The 6-year-old More Than Ready gelding hit the wall of his stall in post 9 at the break and wobbled briefly before he could be righted by jockey Paco Lopez.

Promises Fulfilled set the pace on the inside rail but soon faded to second as Roy H found his stride and punched the gas on the outside.

Running on cruise control four wide on the outside, Roy H took command to hit the half-mile mark in :44.21. Straightening out as the field turned for home, the defending winner kept pounding away at the ground, extending the margin from a half-length to three lengths at the top of the stretch.

Rallying from last after drifting at the start, Whitmore cut a path through the pack up the middle in a last-ditch effort to run down the leader as they approached the wire.

Moving with the same speedy clip that earned him the title of champion sprinter last season, Roy H never faltered, crossing the wire 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Whitmore in 1:08.24.

“He charged today,” Lopez said. “That horse won today with no problem. He knows what’s going on today. He dances. He’s very happy today.”

Saturday’s win marked milestones for trainer and jockey. Lopez earned his first victory in the Breeders’ Cup, and Miller became the first trainer to saddle back-to-back winners of the same two races in the 35-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

“I was a little concerned, actually, when he started moving early on the turn because I had told him, ‘Hey, Paco, it’s a long stretch, just make sure you don’t move too soon,'” Miller said. “But he said this horse was just on fire and loaded from the get-go, from the time he stepped on the track and warmed him up.”

Runner-up Whitmore was followed by favorite Imperial Hint in third. Promises Fulfilled took fourth, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Limousine Liberal in fifth. B Squared, Distinctive B, Warrior’s Club, and Always Sunshine completed the order of finish.

Impressive enough on its own, the win was made even sweeter for Miller and owners Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen, who went through the loss of their promising sprinter Bobby Abu Dhabi who was reported to have died during training at Del Mar from fractures to vertebrae in his neck, which occurred because of a fall as a result of sesamoid fractures in his right front leg.

“You look at ups and downs in horse racing,” Bernsen said, praising the trainer for leading his team to victory through adversity. “I don’t think anything illustrates it more than what these guys have gone through this year. … But Peter, he deals with these horses every day. So we just turn up, and he’s got them all tuned up for a big run.”

Bred in Kentucky by Ramona S. Bass out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Elusive Quality mare Elusive Diva, Roy H was purchased for $310,000 by Rockingham Ranch from the Wavertree Stables consignment to the 2014 Keeneland April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He holds a 9-5-2 record from 22 starts with total earnings of $3,019,765.

“He’s a teddy bear,” Miller said, the emotion evident in his voice. “He’s a love. He just loves to be pet on and loved on. He’s a pleaser. You know, he’s given me more than I could ever give him.

“I think people were writing him off, and someone, one of the East Coast writers, called me and said, ‘You know, Imperial Hint is a different horse this year,’ and they were trying to scare me or something, said he’s the hype horse. I said, ‘Well, the East Coast horses get the hype, and the West Coast horses get the money. So you guys can hype all you want out here, we’ll take the money with us.”

Five-Win Day Vaults Lopez Into Title Contention At Gulfstream West

paco-lopez-five-win-day-gulfstreamPaco Lopez joined the title race for jockeys Sunday at Gulfstream Park West with a five-win day and collecting his 200th win of 2018.

The 33-year-old journeyman moved to within four wins of leading rider Edgard Zayas, who holds a 45-41 edge with five racing days remaining in the Fall Turf Festival meet.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report.

Lopez kicked off his five-win day by riding Reiltin Oir ($5) to victory in Race 1 before scoring aboard Princess Dynamite ($7.20) in Race 3, High Flying Guy ($7) in Race 7, All Go ($5.80) in Race 8 and Chiara Luna ($) for No. 200 in Race 10.

Lopez, who rode five stakes winners on the Nov. 10 Millions Preview card, holds the lead in purses-won with $1. million, approximately $75,000 more than Zayas’ total.

Emisael Jaramillo, who captured the 2017 Gulfstream Park West title with a record 50 winners, has 37 wins after riding a pair of winners, Wild Good ($8.20) in Race 4 and Mia Angelina ($9.40) in Race 6, Sunday.


paco-lopez-five-win-day-gulfstreamLeading by all metrics for the week, Paco Lopez was unanimously selected as Jockeys’ Guild Foundation Detox Jockey of the Week for November 5 – 11, 2018. 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, America’s #1 Equine Toxin Remover.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report.

While a number of jockeys with five-win days have been honored as Jockey of the Week, Lopez made the accomplishment even more notable with five stakes wins in a single day. He also led in all categories on the ballot, including total wins and earnings.

On Millions Preview Day at Gulfstream Park West on Saturday, Lopez had a mount in all 11 races on the card, including the ten stakes races. He swept the early double, winning the $75,000 Millions Turf Preview with Galleon Mast ($5.20) and the $75,000 Millions Sprint Preview with Kroy ($5.20).

He finished third in the third race, then won the next two races on the card, the $75,000 Millions Classic Preview with Mr. Jordan ($4.60) and the $75,000 Juvenile Fillies Sprint with Lovesick ($5.80).

Lopez made his fifth trip to the winners’ circle several races later in the $75,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf with Vow to Recover ($8.80). His five stakes wins represented four different trainers.

With the stakes wins and appearances in other stakes on the same card, Lopez led all North American jockeys by stakes earnings, with $244,365. His total earnings for the week were $374,425, the highest of all jockeys eligible for the ballot. Lopez has earned $8,529,807 in 2018 and has lifetime earnings of over $84 million.

Lopez led by number of stakes wins, but he also led by total number of wins for the week, with 11 victories and a win rate of 44%. He finished in the money on 64% of his 25 starts last week. This year, he has won 192 of his 828 starts and is 2,402 for 11,991 lifetime. Lopez also won his first Breeders’ Cup race aboard Roy H last weekend at Churchill Downs.

Recognized in 2008 with the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, Lopez is in second place in the jockey standings for the current meet at Gulfstream Park West with 33 wins since the meet began on October 3. Edgard Zayas, also on the ballot for winning two of the stakes on Millions Preview Day, is the current leading rider with 40 wins.

Lopez Rides Five Stakes Winners Saturday At Gulfstream West

Mr-Jordan-the-Millions-classic-prvw-credit-Lauren-KingPaco Lopez kicked off a banner day at Gulfstream Park West Saturday with a perfectly executed victory aboard Galleon Mast in the $75,000 Millions Turf Preview.

Lopez, who rode Roy H. to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs a week earlier, went on to win four more stakes on the Millions Preview card of nine stakes worth $675,000 in purses.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report.

The 33-year-old jockey certainly was on his game for the Turf Preview, executing a perfectly game plan for getting 8-5 favorite back to the winner’s circle after a series of hard-luck close calls.

“He told me coming out of the paddock, ‘No one’s going to want the lead except the [Clash and Cash] and [Swagger Jagger]. I’m going to stay right behind them,’” trainer David Fawkes said. “I said, ‘Ride your race. Warm him up good and remember that when he gets the lead he tends to wait.”

Everything went according to plan. Lopez position Galleon Mast directly behind pacesetter Clash and Clash and stalker Swagger Jagger around the first turn and along the backstretch. Although he lacked room on the turn into the homestretch and in the early stretch, Lopez found room to leave the inside in mid-stretch and Galleon Mast kicked in to score a last-ditch nose victory over a game Clash and Cash.

“I was close and waited and waited. In the stretch, I came too close to the rail and he got a little scared and jumped a little bit, but he came back and got it at the wire,” said Lopez, who went on score victories aboard Kroy in the Sprint Preview, Mr. Jordan in the Classic Preview, Lovesick in the Juvenile Fillies Sprint and Vow to Recover in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Class and Clash finished 2 ¾-lengths ahead of Archer Road,

Galleon Mast, who has been first or second in 19 of 29 starts with five third-place finishes, had gone winless in six starts since winning the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream in January while finishing second five times. Most recently, he most recently finished second behind Archer Road in the Mr. Steele Stakes at Gulfstream after a very troubled trip.

“He finally got a good trip. It’s frustrating. I left a lot of money on the track,” Fawkes said. “He’s had some tough trips, so Paco is staying on him now.”

Two races later, P. & G. Stables’ Picara registered a 1 ¾-length triumph in the $75,000 Filly & Mare Turf Preview under jockey Edgard Zayas.

The Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old filly was in command throughout the 7 ½-furlong race, setting fractions of 24.34, 49,04 and 1:12.78 for six furlongs on her way to a final clocking of 1:30.28.

Picara had prepped for the Filly & Mare Turf Preview with a two-length optional claiming allowance victory Oct. 14 at Gulfstream Park West in her second start since being transferred to Pletcher. The daughter of With Distinction has won all three of her starts over the Gulfstream Park West turf course.

Southern Sis finished second under Luca Panici, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Warranty and Lopez.

Miller doubles up on repeats as Roy H takes Breeders’ Cup Sprint

BC18.Roy H06.11-3-18.SR_LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Peter Miller made Breeders’ Cup history Saturday at Churchill Downs after defending champion Roy H rallied to a convincing 3 1/4-length triumph over the slow-starting Whitmore in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Imperial Hint, runner-up in the 2017 Sprint and the 8-5 favorite on Saturday, finished third.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Roy H’s victory came a couple of hours after Miller’s Stormy Liberal had successfully defended his title in the Turf Sprint, the Southern California-based horseman becoming the first trainer win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup races with two different horses in the 35-year history of the event. Roy H and Stormy Liberal are both owned in partnership by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen.

Paco Lopez rode Roy H to victory in the Sprint, giving the journeyman his first ever Breeders’ Cup win. Lopez had lost the mount on Roy H to Kent Desormeaux just prior to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup.

Roy H’s trip on Saturday was reminiscent of the one he parlayed into his one-length victory over Imperial Hint in this race a year ago at Del Mar. Roy H rated just off a rapid early pace set by Promises Fulfilled and forced by Miller’s other entry in the Sprint, Distinctive B. Roy H moved readily to command while kept well out in the track entering the stretch, opened a commanding advantage upon settling for the drive, and was not threatened thereafter.

Whitmore broke slow from his inside post, trailed in the run down the backstretch, advanced near the rail to closer contention entering the stretch before easing out and continuing his rally to finish second. Imperial Hint checked a couple of times in traffic down the backstretch, angled out behind the winner to make a mild run at the top of the stretch but could not sustain the rally, finishing 1 3/4 lengths farther back in third.

Roy H, a 6-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready, returned $7.40 after completing six furlongs over a fast track in 1:08.24.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this horse, words don’t even express my feelings,” Miller said immediately after the race.

“I was a little concerned when he started moving a little early on the turn, because I told Paco it was a long stretch and to make sure he didn’t move too soon,” Miller said. “But he said this horse was just loaded from the moment he stepped on the track and warmed him up. I think the move that sealed it was when [Lopez] saw the horse he had to beat [Imperial Hint] come up inside him, and he made sure that he wouldn’t beat him to the position. Once he got the lead, I looked back and could see nobody was coming and that point I was pretty confident, because I know this horse has a big late kick.”

Miller said the big difference between Roy H’s 2018 campaign and his Eclipse Award-winning season the previous year was the fact he went to Dubai this spring where he finished a game and close third behind Mind Your Biscuits and X Y Jet in the Golden Shaheen.

“It took him a while to get over Dubai and he wasn’t the same horse in the Bing Crosby,” said Miller. “He was stale and flat, so I made some changes. I took him from the second string and moved him back with my first string at San Luis Rey, I changed exercise riders and we also changed jockeys, going back to Paco. It was just the change of pace he needed and it all worked out. I think people were writing him off earlier this year, while building up Imperial Hint. The eastern horses might get the hype, but the western horses get the money.”

Miller did not rule out a return trip to Dubai for either Roy H or Stormy Liberal, both 6-year-old geldings, in 2019.

“Both these horses are very sound, they are easy on themselves, and as long as they enjoy their jobs, like they obviously do right now, we’ll just keep going,” said Miller.

Trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. said he thought Imperial Hint ran well, but that jockey Javier Castellano told him “he was just spinning his wheels” when asked to run.

“It just seems he doesn’t handle Churchill Downs’s track very well,” said Carvajal in reference to the fact Imperial Hint has not finished better than third in three starts under the twin spires.

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