Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen's Roy H scored his first Grade 1 win in Saturday's Santa Anita Sprint Championship, finding better racing luck to be his ticket into the winner's circle. A 5-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready, Roy H won by a length to cover six furlongs over the fast main track in 1:08.68 under jockey Kent Desormeaux. The Peter Miller trainee, off as the 4-5 favorite in the six-horse field, earned an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Sprint next month at Del Mar.
“I've been looking forward to this day for some time,” said Desormeaux, who celebrated his third win on the card with Roy H. “He's been a special horse since the day I got to touch him. It was quite a handy ride today. He's fast. He probably broke half a length behind the leaders and I had him in absolute reserve all the way.”
Roy H broke well from the outside, track the pace of American Anthem just off the hip of Mr. Hinx. The three stretched out across the track down the backstretch, just a half-length apart at first but spreading out a bit approaching the turn. After fractions of :22.07 and :45.03, American Anthem found himself in tight company as both Mr. Hinx and Roy H drew alongside him at the head of the lane.
Desormeaux gave Roy H the cue and the gelding responded easily, putting on a quick burst to pull away from Mr. Hinx. Roy H crossed the wire about a length in front of the 40-1 Mr. Hinx, forcing American Anthem to settle for third. Ransom the Moon was fourth.
“He always had this ability,” insisted Miller. “As a colt, as a younger horse, he just never seemed to put it together. Once we gelded him and gave him some time off, he just blossomed into a different horse. He's all business and just a very, very good horse.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass, Roy H was a $310,000 juvenile purchase at the Keeneland April sale. He did not try graded company until his 6-year-old season, but has won two of his graded starts and was an unlucky second in the other. Overall, Roy H's record now stands at 5-4-1 from 16 starts for earnings of over $500,000.
“I want to thank Gary Hartunian and his family, Rockingham Ranch for giving me this opportunity,” Miller said. “My assistant Ruben Alvarado has done a super job with this horse. He's had him here at Santa Anita since he won his first race and I'm a bit superstitious. When he won his first, then his second, then his third I thought we'd just leave him here with Ruben for a while. It's worked out well.”
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