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.

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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.”

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