April 12, 2021

Roy H superior again in Santa Anita Sprint Championship

Roy H, with Paco Lopez aboard, wins the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) for trainer Peter Miller at Santa Anita Park on October 6, 2018 (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com

Roy H will head to Churchill Downs next month in defense of his TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) title with another victory in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) in the bag.

The even-money favorite against four rivals in Saturday’s renewal of the “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Roy H ($4) took over from pacesetting stablemate Distinctive B at the top of the stretch and cruised a 2 3/4-length score under Paco Lopez. He completed six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.09. Distinctive B held second by a half-length over two-time Bing Crosby (G1) winner Ransom the Moon.

Owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen, last year’s champion male sprinter was winning for the first time since February when he comfortably landed the Palos Verdes (G2) in his first race back since his Breeders’ Cup tally at Del Mar. He had raced twice in the interim, finishing third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan in March and second in the Bing Crosby on July 28.

“Ruben (Alvarado), my assistant, has done a phenomenal job with him up here for two years but he just seemed stale to me,” trainer Peter Miller said. “I think he just needed a change of pace and a change of scenery so we brought him back to San Luis Rey. I think it’s picked his head up a bit. This is the Roy H I’ve been waiting to see all year.”

It’s Gonna Hurt and jockey Tiago Pereira win the Speakeasy Stakes on October 6, 2018, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

The $100,345 Speakeasy, a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the new Juvenile Turf Sprint, was captured in wire-to-wire fashion by 8-1 chance Its Gonna Hurt under Tiago Pereira.

Withstanding mild late bids from 10-1 longshot Whooping Jay and the filly favorite Mae Never No, Its Gonna Hurt prevailed by three parts of a length in a time of :56 for five-eighths on the firm turf. Owned by the partnership of Janet Lyons, Evan Trommer, Andrew Trommer, and Matthew Trommer, Its Gonna Hurt paid $18.60.

Trained by Brian Koriner, the Louisiana-bred son of Violence had competed in maiden claiming company in both previous starts. He was seventh in his debut at Del Mar as the favorite running for a $150,000 tag, and last time rebounded over the same track to win by 3 3/4 lengths. The Speakeasy was the colt’s first start on turf.

“I told (Pereira) he didn’t have to be (in front),” Koriner said. “I said you can lay right behind them. He didn’t break on top, but the horse dragged him right up there. There was nothing he could. The horse was just way quicker than they were. He went 44 flat but he was draggin’ him all the way.”

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” said Koriner when asked about heading to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. “It wasn’t really my intention to run in this race. It was the only place to run for a horse that broke his maiden for 80 (thousand).”