February 23, 2018

Roy H – 2017 Champion Male Sprinter

Roy H is now a graded stakes winner on both coasts this year (Benoit Photos)

Entering the 2017 racing season, Roy H would hardly have been considered potential championship material by anyone except the most dewy-eyed of optimists. One-for-11 entering the term, he’d been stuck at the entry-level allowance condition for nine starts, placing in only three of them.

MALE SPRINTER FIRST-PLACE VOTES
ROY H 241
Imperial Hint 5
Drefong 1
Mind Your Biscuits 1
Stormy Liberal 1
Voter Abstentions 1

Not only did the Peter Miller trainee wind up coming into his own at the right time, he turned into a dependable win-machine with five winner’s circle visits from six outings, with his only loss the result of interference from arguably his main rival for the male sprint title.

That a new Roy H was on the scene was clearly evident from his first two races of the season, both victories in allowance company at Santa Anita by a combined margin of nearly 10 lengths. Displaying versatility winning one on the turf and the other on dirt, the decision was soon made to keep him on the dirt.

Going cross country for his stakes debut in the True North (G2) on Belmont Stakes weekend, Roy H justified the expense with a 2 1/2-length win over Stallwalkin’ Dude at odds of 6-1. His 111 BRIS Speed rating eventually proved his second-highest of the season.

Back at his Southern California base for the July 29 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar, Roy H was actually a slight favorite over reigning sprint champion Drefong, who was making his first start since his title-clinching score in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) the previous November. In the event, the champ continued running after dropping jockey Mike Smith leaving the backside chute, fanned Roy H and two other rivals wide turning for home, thus allowing Ransom the Moon to win with an unhindered rally up the inside. Roy H did hold second, though, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Roy H got his revenge on Ransom the Moon in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), winning by a length as the 9-10 favorite under new rider Kent Desormeaux. The pair teamed up again in the TwinSpires sponsored Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar, with Drefong, interim winner of the Forego (G1) by four lengths, the 7-5 favorite. Roy H started at 4.90-1.

Missing the break, Drefong was easily eclipsed throughout while Roy H, rating a length behind Takaful after a quarter-mile and in back of Imperial Hint through a half-mile, wore down the latter through the stretch to garner the victory and the divisional championship by a length. The first non three-year-old to claim this title since 2014, his season earnings were $1,270,900.

Owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernson, Roy H was bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass. The now six-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready and Exclusive Diva, a multiple Grade 3-winning daughter of Elusive Quality, stays in training for 2018.

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