Roy H must step up in Santa Anita Sprint Championship
Courtesy of Brad Free of DRF.com
ARCADIA, Calif. – The practice and the preps are nearly complete, and most pieces of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint puzzle will be in place Saturday afternoon following the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Roy H and Ransom the Moon, the top sprinters in California, race six furlongs at Santa Anita. Along with the Phoenix Stakes on Friday at Keeneland, this week’s stakes will determine the main opposition for streaking East Coast-based Imperial Hint, current favorite for the BC Sprint.
Roy H won the BC Sprint last year at Del Mar, his fourth graded stakes and fifth win from six starts in 2017. This year, things have not come as easy. Roy H has raced three times in 2018, winning once and finishing a disappointing second to Ransom the Moon last out. Has Roy H lost a step?
Conversely, Ransom the Moon enters fall at the top of his game. He certainly is a fresher horse than one year ago, when he tailed off at the end of his six-start campaign. He finished off the board in two Grade 1’s won by Roy H – the Santa Anita Sprint Championship and BC Sprint.
“Last year was a learning curve,” said Phil D’Amato, Ransom the Moon’s trainer. “We found he liked dirt, and we took those races one by one. This year, we knew what we had. We have been able to map out our strategy a little better, with the ultimate goal being the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.”
Ransom the Moon has responded to a condensed campaign. He scored an impressive victory last out in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar, and Saturday is just his fourth start of the season. His recent works at Santa Anita have been outstanding, including a 47-flat bullet Monday.
Roy H and Ransom the Moon have faced each other four times, each winning twice, although Roy H probably would be up 3-1 if not for a bad trip in the 2017 Bing Crosby at Del Mar.
D’Amato respects Roy H’s body of work, but prefers to focus on Ransom the Moon.
“I don’t think I could have my horse doing any better than he is right now,” D’Amato said.
Three others play supporting roles. Distinctive B, the Peter Miller-trained stablemate of Roy H, adds speed. John Sadler has entered Edwards Going Left and Horse Greedy.
The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, though Ransom the Moon has already won the Win and You’re In Bing Crosby.
Roy H, by More Than Ready
Last 3 Beyers: 96-NA-105
◗ Paco Lopez regains the mount, replacing Kent Desormeaux. Lopez rode Roy H to victory last year in a Grade 2 at Belmont Park and a runner-up finish in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar.
◗ During his 2017 championship campaign, Roy H stabled and worked at Santa Anita and Del Mar. This fall, Roy H relocated to Miller’s base at San Luis Rey Downs.
Ransom the Moon, by Malibu Moon
ast 3 Beyers: 101-97-100
◗ He intended to start last month at Laurel. Plans changed when weather forced postponement of the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash. Santa Anita “became our Plan B,” D’Amato said. “He does like this track.” Few horses have trained as well this fall at Santa Anita.
◗ Ransom the Moon drew perfectly, outside in a five-horse field. If the pace slows, jockey Flavien Prat can position Ransom the Moon relatively close to the leader. “He definitely has tactical speed,” D’Amato said.
Edwards Going Left, by Midnight Lute
Last 3 Beyers: 95-95-95
◗ The best-case scenario for the stalker would be a pace battle, which is unlikely. Edwards Going Left breaks from post 4.
◗ Tyler Baze regains the mount. Barring an upset, Edwards Going Left is likely to target the Cary Grant Stakes for California-breds during the Del Mar fall meet. He won that race a year ago.
Horse Greedy, by Horse Greeley
Last 3 Beyers: 94-101-101
◗ From the inside post under Stewart Elliot, options are limited. “He might have to go for it from down there,” Sadler said. “He might have to show a little more speed.”
◗ Fitness is not an issue. “He’s fit,” Sadler said. “I’ve worked him hard. He’s going to run his race.”
◗ Horse Greedy could ship to Churchill Downs this fall, win or lose. Barring a Saturday upset, Sadler said he could target a minor stakes during Breeders’ Cup week. He would ship with Breeders’ Cup-bound stablemates Accelerate (Classic) and Catalina Cruiser (Dirt Mile).
Distinctive B, by With Distinction
Last 3 Beyers: 94-85-67
◗ He won a first-level allowance race last out and would be a pace factor under Drayden Van Dyke.
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