Roy toys with rivals at Santa Anita

Roy H will return to the Breeders’ Cup Championships at Churchill Downs next month following a successful defence of his Santa Anita Sprint crown Gr.1 on Saturday.

Starting an even-money favourite in California, the More Than Ready champion took over from stablemate Distinctive B at the top of the straight and cruised home by three lengths from last-start Bing Crosby Hcp Gr.1 winner Ransom the Moon.

Last year’s Eclipse Award Sprinter was winning for the first time since a trip to Dubai in March when he was placed in the Golden Shaheen Gr.1 at Meydan.  He had won the Santa Anita Sprint last year on the way to a sizzling victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Gr.1 at Del Mar.

“He was very light-footed today, but I didn’t want to send him, so I waited a little bit,” jockey Paco Lopez said.  “He’s an easy horse ride.  You can place him pretty much anywhere, but you can take a hold if you want and wait to let him run.”

Trainer Peter Miller was glad to see Roy H back in the groove.  “This is the Roy H I’ve been waiting to see all year.  He seemed a bit stale to me so we brought him back to train at San Luis Rey.  He just needed a change of pace and a change of scenery.”

Texan philanthropist Ramona Bass bred him by sending Group 3 winner Exclusive Diva (Elusive Quality) to More Than Ready at his northern-hemisphere base at WinStar Farm.  He made $115,000 from Claiborne Farm at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and was then purchased by Rockingham Ranch owner Gary Hartunian for $300,000 at the 2014 Keeneland 2YO Sale.

Roy H (pictured) is on the second line of Breeders Cup Sprint betting at $4 behind last-start Vosburgh Stakes winner Imperial Hint who is the $3 favourite.

More Than Ready heads the Vinery roster this year at a $66,000 (inc GST) service fee.