Roy H‘s sprint championship title defense got off to a rousing start Saturday when the six-year-old gelding registered a facile victory in the $196,000 Palos Verdes (G2) at Santa Anita.
Recipient of the 2017 Eclipse Award last week, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner faced just three rivals in the six-furlong dash following the scratch of Bobby Abu Dhabi.
Less than two lengths behind the dueling leaders down the backside and always under a snug hold by Kent Desormeaux, Roy H made a three-wide bid approaching the quarter pole and always looked the winner from then on.
After breezing home by 3 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:09.68 on a fast track, Roy H paid $2.40. He’s owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernson, and is trained by Peter Miller.
“He did it very easy,” Desormeaux said. “Pete told me to let the other horses go today and let this guy finish up the last half-mile. It made my job easy. He’s a super horse. I wanna say, he’s the best sprinter I’ve ever ridden.”
The remainder of the field came home in order of popularity on the tote. Second choice Americanize was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Red Lightning, with longshot Mongolian Saturday, a former Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner, the trailer.
In addition to the Breeders’ Cup, Roy H also captured the True North (G2) and Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) last season. His only loss in his past seven starts came in the Bing Crosby (G1) last July, where he finished second after being fanned wide by a riderless Drefong, the 2016 sprint champion.
“I’d say the Triple Bend ([G1] on March 10) and then the Golden Shaheen ([G1] in Dubai on March 31), that would probably be what we’d do, but one day at a time, one race at a time,” Miller said.
Roy H was bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass. He’s by More Than Ready and Exclusive Diva, a multiple Grade 3-winning daughter of Elusive Quality. His record now stands at 18-7-4-1, $1,479,765.