San Diego County has been a longtime home for trainer Peter Miller, Del Mar his home track and the nearby San Luis Rey Downs training center the headquarters for an operation that has grown steadily in size and success in recent years.
As the reigning training champion of Del Mar's Bing Crosby Fall Meeting, where his 16 wins doubled that of the runners-up in 2016, he might have been expected to be a factor in the Breeders' Cup World Championships when they were staged here for the first time. Despite the fact he hadn't won a Breeders' Cup race coming in to the event.
Miller won two. In the $1 million Turf Sprint, the fifth on Saturday's 12-race program, he finished 1-2 with Stormy Liberal, Joel Rosario up, and Richard's Boy with Flavien Prat in the irons. Stormy Liberal paid $62.40 to win, Richard's Boy $13 to place. The Miller exacta returned $277.50 for a $1 bet.
“I had a lot of faith in both horses, they show up every time,” Miller said. “But to run against Lady Aurelia and some super good sprinters, I felt we needed the home-court advantage which I think we had. I had two jockeys that know the course and two horses that know the course, and it turned out to work in our favor.”
Three races later, Miller was back in the winner's circle for the $1.5 million Sprint after Kent Desormeaux guided Roy H ($11.80) to a one-length victory.
“(Roy H) had to man up the first 200 yards, we were getting moved around and bouncing off of horses,” Desormeaux said Sunday morning. “His talent established position and after that, he just cruised. I might be a little prejudiced, but I thought he was the most impressive winner of the weekend. He just exploded turning for home.”
Miller used the term “surreal experience” to describe the close-together victories.
“You never think you're going to win a Breeders' Cup race. There are just too many good horses and too many things can happen. But anyone that asked me about my horses, I said they're all ‘live'. And I meant it. I felt they were all coming into the races great and it's rare that they all show up like that.
“We got great rides and great luck.”
Miller said Sunday morning that Roy H will not run again this year and Richard's Boy will also be given a break. Stormy Liberal is a candidate for a $2 million race in Hong Kong and he would look for a race for Calculator (7th, Sprint) possibly at the end of the Crosby meeting, “If the right one comes up.”
“I really like this meeting,” Miller said. “I think it's very much needed on the (Southern California racing) calendar. I have some horses to run here and hopefully I can defend my championship.”
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