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.

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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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