ARCADIA, CA – Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Roy H, making his first start since defending his Breeders’ Cup Sprint title last November, turned Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita into a total laugher.
Breaking from the far outside post 7 as the 1/5 favorite under Florida-based jockey Paco Lopez (who flew in for the day specifically for this ride), Roy H settled comfortably as the field raced down the backstretch. Meanwhile, his Peter Miller stablemate Conquest Tsunami posted opening fractions of :21.44 and :44.35, just ahead of former Miller trainee St. Joe Bay, who won this race in 2017. Running three-wide into the far turn, Roy H cruised effortlessly alongside – and then past – Conquest Tsunami while Lopez kept an eye on the field as they faded from view. Hitting the top of the stretch still firmly in hand, Roy H drew off like a two-time division champion before Lopez geared him down inside the final furlong. His lead was long enough that despite crossing under a light jog, he was still 4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:08.89 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“Peter told me he’d like me to be third or fourth early,” Lopez said. “He’s like a machine. You could see going to the 3/8 (pole), he was just cruising. He loves to run and I had a whole lotta horse the whole way. He definitely ran as good today as he did in the Breeders’ Cup. He was just incredible. He’s a machine bullet, that horse. Today, he jogged unbelievable, like always.”
Kanthaka‘s 4-year-old debut resulted in a hard-fought second thanks to his closing stretch run. Conquest Tsunami faded to third ahead of Awesome Anywhere, while St. Joe Bay and Touched by Autism completed the order of finish. Distinctive B, yet another Miller runner, was scratched.
Roy H’s win was a successful defense of the 2018 edition of the Palos Verdes and improved his overall record to 23-10-5-2. The 7-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready – purchased for $310,000 as a juvenile – increased his lifetime earnings to $3,139,765 and appears poised to take another shot at the Group 1 Golden Shaheen at Dubai; he finished third there last year.
“We’re gonna try Dubai again; hopefully, we can get it right this time,” Miller said. “In the words of Chick Hearn, He’s as cool as the other side of the pillow,’ so nothing bothers him. Me, on the other hand, I don’t ship so well, but he’s an unbelievable horse … He’s something else, he’s a thing of beauty. Watching the race, I was not happy with Paco, because I thought he was too close, but he knew better. He’s a machine and I’m running out of superlatives.”
Roy H returned $2.60 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Kanthaka brought back $4.20 to place and $3 to show, while Conquest Tsunami paid $5 to show.