Gary Hartunian’s Roy H shipped in to Belmont Park from Southern California to run his 2017 record to three wins from three starts in Friday’s G2 True North Stakes. The 5-year-old gelding by More Than Ready had never tried graded company before Friday’s contest, but sped away under Paco Lopez at the top of the stretch to cover six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:08.59. Roy H started the season with a victory on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course for trainer Peter Miller, then ran away to an impressive allowance win over 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt when his next race was taken off the turf course. Miller shipped him to Belmont and was rewarded with a 2 1/2-length victory over Stallwalkin’ Dude and Whitmore on Friday’s card.
“That was unbelievable,” said Miller. “This horse ran super. My assistant, Reuben Alvarado, has been training this horse at Santa Anita with my second string and he’s done a super job, so I want to say thank you to him and to [owner], Mr. Hartunian. This is his first time running outside of California and he shipped great. He really did everything just professional, and Paco [Lopez] gave him a great ride. Paco’s ridden winners for me in the past at Monmouth and in California when he’s come out. We love Paco. He’s my kind of rider: speed.”
Lopez rode a very well-timed race aboard Roy H, waiting just off the three-way battle for the lead until the far turn. Up front were Chief Lion, Holy Boss and Green Gratto for a first quarter in 22.28 seconds, with Roy H just behind them in fourth. Stallwalkin’ Dude stalked the pace in fifth, and heavy favorite Whitmore was nearly 10 lengths off the leaders near the rear of the field. Rounding the far turn, Lopez moved Roy H up the outside just as Holy Boss started to drop back, leaving him with a three-wide journey to mark the half-mile in 44.82 seconds as he took the lead turning for home.
Roy H may have had just a slight lead at the head of the lane, but with one quick burst he shot away from the field by at least three lengths. Stallwalkin’ Dude, honest as always, came grinding away at that lead in the final eighth of a mile but was only able to cut it down to 2 1/2 lengths and settle for second, and Whitmore was unable to do better than third after being placed so far off the pace in the early going.
“I was a little scared because he can blow the turn,” said jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. of the favored Whitmore, third. “I’ve always been happy when he gets a position on the inside of horses. That [outside] position doesn’t work for him. He blew the turn today and that’s why he lost the race.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass, Roy H commanded $ 115,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September, then turned around to bring $ 310,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-old in training sale. Prior to 2017 he had only won a maiden event, but had manged seconds and thirds in Southern California allowance company. This 5-year-old season has driven Roy H’s record to 4-3-1 from 14 starts, with earnings of over $ 300,000.
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