Demonstrating the top form that saw him win his first Grade 1 in the Oct. 7 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes in his prior start, Rockingham Ranch’s and David Bernsen’s 5-year-old More Than Ready gelding ran down Imperial Hint with determined strides to claim the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint by a length.
Imperial Hint finished two lengths in front of late-closing Mind Your Biscuits, who completed the trifecta.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, the Peter Miller-trained Roy H stopped the clock in 1:08.61 for six furlongs on a fast track, and returned $11.80, $5, and $3.60 at odds of 4.90-1. The victory was the sixth for Desormeaux in the Breeders’ Cup and second in the Sprint, a race he won in 1995 on Desert Stormer at Belmont Park.
“This is amazing,” Miller said. “Two Breeders’ Cup wins in one day. The race shaped up the way we thought it would. We saw a lot of speed in there and we figured he could sit third or fourth and make his big run. He did it just the way we drew it up.”
Desormeaux’s description of his spot in the irons told of challenging start.
“He had to man up [in] the first 200 yards,” the rider said. “I had to jockey for position, fighting for a spot two times in 200 yards. After that, he had the catbird seat. He raced off my fingertips and gave me a lovely ride. Absolutely exploded turning for home. He was full of run. We were running from the quarter pole to the eighth pole. We took off.”
Defending race winner Drefong, favored at 7-5, finished sixth in the field of 10 after breaking slowly from post-position two.
“I knew in the first 100 yards it was over when he couldn’t make the lead,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “What I was afraid would happen, happened. He’s been good to us and I really can’t complain. I knew the inside post would be tough on him and I could tell when he went across the gap there that Mike [Smith] was a little hesitant with him. You need racing luck. You need a good horse, but you need racing luck. It wasn’t his day. This horse doesn’t owe us anything.”
Roy H returned $11.80, $5, and $3.60, Imperial Hint brought $5.20 and $4, and Mind Your Biscuits paid $4.40.
Bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass out of the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Diva, Roy H improved his record to six wins and four seconds from 17 starts, with $1,359,765 in earnings. He was purchased by Rockingham for $310,000 at the 2014 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale, when consigned by Wavertree.
“He always had Grade 1 talent, but he never put it together [before],” Miller said. “He always had either niggling issues or he wasn’t quite mentally there. We gelded him when he was out [after July of 2016], and gave him some time off, and he’s just been a beast since he came back. If I had to put one thing, I’d say it was gelding him, but also just maturation and time.”