Roy H Repeats In Santa Anita Sprint Championship

Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Roy H, the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter of 2017, defended his crown in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday at Santa Anita, winning the six-furlong dash by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:09.09 under Paco Lopez. The 6-year-old gelding by More Than Ready paid $4 to win as the favorite.

Distinctive B, also owned by Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch and, like the winner, trained by Peter Miller, finished second under Drayden Van Dyke after setting the fractions. Ransom the Moon, who defeated Roy H in their last meeting at Del Mar in the G1 Bing Crosby July 28, finished a half-length back in third in the field of five.

The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race, giving the winner an all-fees paid starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.

“This is the Roy H I’ve been waiting to see all year,” said Miller. “He’s a phenomenal horse. Hopefully we can springboard from here to the Breeders’ Cup.” Roy H locked up his Eclipse Award with a one-length Breeders’ Cup Sprint victory in 2017.

Distinctive B jumped out to the lead, going the opening quarter mile in :22.45, with Horse Greedy – one of two in the race along with Edwards Going Left for trainer John Sadler – trying to push him along on the front end.

Lopez had Roy H sitting in perfect position in third going into the far turn while second choice Ransom the Moon was tracking behind him. Roy H was floated out a bit into the stretch, the half-mile in :45.45, with Ransom the Moon to his outside. After five furlongs in :57.11, Roy H kicked clear to win going away while Ransom the Moon never really accelerated down the lane.

“He needs more pace,” said Ransom the Moon’s rider, Flavian Prat. “It’s hard for him to make up ground when they’re not going that fast. With a bigger field next time, he should have more pace to run at.”

The win was the eighth in 21 career starts for Roy H and the first since taking the G2 Palos Verdes at Santa Anita Feb. 3. He shipped to Dubai, finishing third in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, beaten three-quarters of a length, then finished second as the favorite behind Ransom the Moon in the Crosby.

“Ruben (Alvarado), my assistant, has done a phenomenal job with him up here for two years but he just seemed stale to me,” said Miller. “I think he just needed a change of pace and a change of scenery so we brought him back to San Luis Rey. I think it’s picked his head up a bit.”

“The way Distinctive B ran today I think he might have won that race at Keeneland I entered him in yesterday. But this was more money, we didn’t have to ship him, and I kind of wanted a target for Roy so it worked out well.”

Lopez was reunited with Roy H for the first time since the 2017 Crosby when runner-up for the first time to Ransom the Moon. Before that, Lopez and Roy H teamed up to win the G2 True North at Belmont Park in June 2017. Kent Desormeaux has ridden Roy H in his last five starts.

“I loved to get the chance to ride this horse again,” said Lopez.  “I won on him in New York (True North Stakes, June 9, 2017) and was second in California (Grade I Bing Crosby on July 29, 2017), so I know the horse very well.  He was very light-footed today but I didn’t want to send him, so I waited a little bit.  He’s an easy horse to ride, you can place him pretty much anywhere…”



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