ARCADIA, CA – Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Roy H returned true to form on Saturday, stalking the early pace before pouncing and drawing off with ease to win the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Roy H receiving an automatic berth in the TwinSpires Sprint at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking bell from post 2 under Paco Lopez at even-money odds, Roy H ran three-wide down the backstretch while his Peter Miller stablemate Distinctive B posted opening fractions of :2.45 and :45.45. Taking command in the far turn, last year’s winner drew off easily in the stretch to defend his title by 2 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:09.09 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“I loved to get the chance to ride this horse again,” said Lopez. “I won on him in New York and was second in California, so I know the horse very well. He was very light-footed today but I didn’t want to send him, so I waited a little bit. He’s an easy horse to ride; you can place him pretty much anywhere, but you can take a hold if you want and wait to let him run.”
Distinctive B held second by a 1/2-length over Ransom the Moon to give Miller the exacta, while the John Sadler-trained/Hronis Racing-owned pair of Edwards Going Left and Horse Greedy completed the order of finish.
Roy H’s win was his second of 2018 following the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes in February and improved his overall record to 21-8-5-2 with earnings of $1,919,765. The 6-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready appears poised to defend his Breeders’ Cup TwinSpires Sprint title next month.
“He’s a great horse and I hope we springboard to the Breeders’ Cup,” Miller said. “The way Distinctive B ran today, I think he might have won that race at Keeneland I entered him in yesterday (the Grade 2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes). But this was more money, we didn’t have to ship him, and I kind of wanted a target for Roy, so it worked out well.”
Roy H returned $4 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Distinctive B brought back $5.80 to place and $2.80 to show, while Ransom the Moon paid $2.10 to show.