Hit The Road explodes at Santa Anita

Memories of More Than Ready’s Champion sprinter Roy H were rekindled at Santa Anita on Saturday when Hit the Road scored an explosive first-up victory in the Thunder Road Stakes (G3, 1600m).

Hit the Road is a 4yo son of the Vinery legend based in California and, despite logging Listed victories as a 2yo and 3yo, his career has been stymied by injuries.

Roy H was also based on the west coast and niggling ailments prevented him from making a black-type breakthrough until he was a 5yo.  No matter.  He made up for lost time winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Gr.1 twice on the way to Eclipse Awards in 2017 and 2018.

Hit the Road won the 2019 Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita and the 2020 Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar but any chance of dominating the California turf scene was put on hold when he was sidelined by bone bruising.

He returned with a vengeance on Saturday prompting jockey Umberto Rispoli to report he has come back in a huge way.  “He’s headed in the right direction.  We’ve always had faith in him and it was a shame he missed most of last year.

“He was fresh and pulling hard today.  At the top of the stretch, he accelerated and covered good ground.  It was some comeback.”

Trainer Dan Blacker declared the four-length victory signalled a changing of the guard in California with his up-and-coming colt leading the way.  “He’s a champion in my eyes and I’m just so thankful to the owners.  He was born a great horse and I’m just lucky to have him in my barn.”

Hit The Road (4c More Than Ready – Highway Mary by U S Ranger) was purchased by Australian agent Craig Rounsefell for $160,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale on behalf of owners DK Racing, Radley Equine, Taste of Victory Stables and Rick Gold

Like More Than Ready Group 1 winners Rushing Fall and Catholic Boy, he was bred and reared by Fred Hertrich at Watercress Farm in Kentucky.  He also sports a fascinating pedigree pattern.

Highway Mary’s damsire U S Ranger is from a daughter of Vinery’s Australian foundation sire Red Ransom out of a mare by His Majesty.  Highway Mary’s Group 2 winning dam Wandering Star carries that very same cross.