06/09/2017 6:11PM

Roy H makes True North his third straight victory

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Ronnie Bettor
Roy H paid $14.80 in winning the True North at Belmont Park on Friday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - What a consolation prize.

Less than an hour after having a horse taken down in a race on the West Coast, trainer Peter Miller was celebrating on the East Coast with Roy H, who won the first stakes of his career with the Grade 2, $250,000 True North at Belmont Park on Friday.

Now, Miller hopes to see the horse develop into a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Whitmore, who was favored while seeking to win his sixth straight race, finished third in the True North.

Roy H ($14.80) sat off the opening quarter set by Chief Lion, then moved to the fore and went on to cover six furlongs on a track rated fast in 1:08.59. It was the horse’s third straight win. The streak started in an optional $40,000 claiming sprint April 8 at Santa Anita and continued with an optional $62,500 claiming sprint win at the same track, for which Roy H earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106.

“He really ran super, really showed up,” Miller said. “It was a little bit of a vindication.”

Miller trainee Vending Machine won the first race Friday at Santa Anita, but was disqualified and placed fourth. Not long after the True North, Miller won the third race at Santa Anita with Surrender Now.

Roy H, under jockey Paco Lopez, sat in fourth in the True North, off Chief Lion’s opening quarter in 22.28 seconds, then moved to the lead while running the half-mile in 44.82. He went on to a clear win, by 2 1/2 lengths over Stallwalkin’ Dude.

“He was ready,” Lopez said. “I didn’t want to make the lead. I was in good position this time. I waited and let him go and he finished very well.”

Miller has been well pleased with the development of Roy H, a 5-year-old son of More Than Ready who has won both of his starts this year after closing out last season with a fourth-place finish in a first-level allowance in July.

“We gave him time off,” Miller said. “We cut [castrated] him. I think those two things have really changed him.

“He’s been a good horse all along. I thought he could fit with these horses and he proved us right.”

Plans going forward are to be determined, Miller said. 

“I think you’d have to think the Breeders’ Cup then work backward from there,” Miller said. “I think we’ll think about a race like the Bing Crosby.”

The Breeders’ Cup remains the year-end objective for Whitmore. He finished 3 3/4 lengths behind Stallwalkin’ Dude and will head back to Churchill Downs, trainer Ron Moquett said. Whitmore rallied from last for third in the True North.

“I think he was a little farther back than usual, and that’s by his own deal,” Moquett said. “I thought the horse that was up there had an easier quarter than what I needed to have for that far back.

“Maybe I ran him back too quick. This is not the end goal for us. The end goal is to figure out everything where he’s perfect ...  for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Moquett said Whitmore could now target the Vanderbilt at Saratoga.

Roy H earned $137,500 for his True North win for Gary Hartunian. The horse has now won 4 of 14 starts and $291,765.