Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen's Roy H has now won the Breeders' Cup Sprint for two years in a row, emulating his Peter Miller-trained stablemate Stormy Liberal from the Turf Sprint earlier on the card. Sent off as the second choice at 5-2, the 6-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready covered six furlongs over Churchill Downs' fast main track in 1:08.24. He was ridden to the 3 1/4-length victory by Paco Lopez, the first for the Eclipse Award-winning jockey.
Miller also won the Turf Sprint and Sprint with the same horses on last year's Breeders' Cup card at Del Mar, giving him a double-double in the World Championships. Roy H is the 18th horse in history to win two runnings of the same Breeders' Cup race.
“Words don't express how special this is – to win the same race with the same horse back to back,” said Miller. “It's just fantastic.”
Closing from last in the nine-horse field, Whitmore was up to claim second at odds of 6-1 while the 8-5 favorite Imperial Hint did not fire in the stretch and finished third. Pacesetter Promises Fulfilled finished fourth.
Roy H broke well and was well-rated in fourth in the early going, cruising behind the rapid-fire early pace of Promises Fulfilled through fractions of :21.35 and :44.21. Imperial Hint was just in behind the eventual winner, but both began to get moving mid-way through the far turn.
Always Sunshine, in second early, backed up into the face of Imperial Hint and forced him off the rail at the three-eighths pole while Roy H got a clear path three-wide. Promises Fulfilled tried to run on in the stretch, but was overwhelmed by a dominant Roy H at the eighth pole.
Under the wire, Roy H was 3 1/4 lengths ahead of the closing Whitmore, who was last early. Imperial Hint kept fighting to finish third, while Promises Fulfilled faded to fourth.
“I loved my position early,” Lopez relayed. “I let him go a little early and he started a big move. I knew they were going fast up front. I just had a really good ride from him.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass, Roy H was a $115,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Later pinhooked through the Keeneland 2-year-old in training sale, he commanded a final bid of $310,000 from Rockingham's Gary Hartunian. This year, Roy H parlayed a third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen into a repeat of last year's season: he finished second in the G1 Bing Crosby and won the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. With two Breeders' Cup victories to his name, Roy H's record stands at 9-5-2 from 22 starts with earnings of over $3 million.
Runners Up Quotes:
Second-place trainer Ron Moquett (Whitmore) – “It was a good race, fast horses. He did everything I asked him to do. I thought the jock rode him great and I am proud. The winner is a fast horse and today was his day.”
Second-place jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Whitmore) – “My horse settled in the back easily and when I asked him for run on the far turn, he responded nicely. I thought I had a chance to catch the winner in the stretch, but he still ran a good race. I was very happy with his effort.”
Third-place trainer Luis Carvajal (Imperial Hint, favorite) – “The horse ran a magnificent race. Before we had a doubt if he liked the track or not. He seemed like he handled it well in the morning. Javier (Castellano) said he was trying, but when he asked him to run, he was spinning wheels. He ran well and I'm proud of him, but it seems like he doesn't handle Churchill Downs' track very well.”
Third-place jockey Javier Castellano (Imperial Hint, favorite) — “He's the kind of horse that can go to the lead, but today there was a lot of speed, so I took him off the pace. He didn't give me his kick today. He ran twice before on this track and didn't like it. He proved today that he doesn't like this track.”
Fourth-place trainer Dale Romans (Promises Fulfilled) – “Fast race and fast horses. The top five are super horses. (Promises Fulfilled) ran hard, ran his eyeballs out. The fractions weren't too fast, it is just the others were faster than him at the end. He did everything right. It will be nice to see him next year as a 4-year-old to see what he can do. He has done nothing but improve. He is a sound horse and he is a May foal. He is only going to get bigger and better. He could be sprint champion next year.”
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