A horse named Roy H emulated Roy Hobbs, the character played by Robert Redford in "The Natural," and slugged racing's equivalent of a home run Friday at Belmont Park.
Making his stakes debut in his first race outside California, Roy H scored a surprise victory in the Grade 2 $250,000 True North at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Winning his third in a row for trainer Peter Miller, the 5-year-old gelding took over at the head of the stretch and pranced home by 2 1/2 lengths over multiple stakes-winning millionaire Stallwalkin' Dude.
Third, 3 3/4 lengths farther back, was even-money favorite Whitmore, whose five-race winning streak was snapped in his Belmont debut. The 4-year-old gelding won three times at Oaklawn Park this year for trainer and part-owner Ron Moquett and had never lost a race at 6 or 6 1/2 furlongs. This was his first defeat since finishing 19th of 20 in last year's Kentucky Derby, the last distance race for the 2016 Arkansas Derby third-place horse.
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said Whitmore was compromised by his No. 8 post position in a nine-horse field.
"I was a little scared because he can blow the turn," Santana said. "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."
Roy H's victory also came at the expense of such notables as Stallwalkin' Dude, losing for the first time in seven tries at six furlongs; Grade 1 Carter Handicap winner Green Gratto; Grade 3 winner Noholdingback Bear; and multiple graded stakes-place Fellowship.
With Paco Lopez riding, Roy H returned $14.80 for a $2 win bet and earned $150,000, boosting his career bankroll to $307,265.
"That was unbelievable. This horse ran super," Miller said. "I wasn't intimidated at all by this field. I thought that if he ran his race, he'd win. I really did. I just didn't know if he's run his race, but he showed up today and ran his race.
"If you didn't know the horse, you might think this was an ambitious spot for him," the California-based trainer said. 'If I were to just look at the form, I would have thought so. But I thought this horse was a graded-stakes horse from day one. Unfortunately, a lot of little things prevented him from being that (before) but he showed what he's about today, and I think you're going to hear a lot more from Roy H."Sports on 06/10/2017
Print Headline: Roy H pulls Belmont stunner; Whitmore 3rd