by Teresa Genaro
They say New York is a hell of a town, and after the Grade 2 True North at Belmont Park on Friday, trainer Peter Miller is inclined to agree.
“I just had the worst takedown of my life at Santa Anita,” he said, “and this was a little redemption.”
Roy H, his lightly-raced five-year-old gelding, romped in his first graded stakes attempt in the Truth North, winning by 2 1/2 lengths in his first race outside of California.
“He shipped great,” Miller said. “He did everything professionally.”
Racing wide and tracking the pace under Paco Lopez, Roy H joined a vanguard of horses coming around the final turn, and with Lopez taking more than a few peeks under his arm to check his competition, the bay by More Than Ready cruised past the pacesetters.
“My assistant Ruben Alvarado has been training this horse at Santa Anita with my second string,” a grinning Miller said, “and he did a super job. I want to say thank you to him and to (owner) Mr. (Gary) Hartunian. Paco gave him a great ride.”
Though Roy H came into the race with two easy wins in a row, he had also been racing exclusively in allowance races, and the True North was his third start off a nine-month layoff.
“I thought he was a graded stakes horse from day one,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, a lot of little issues prevented him from showing what he was. He showed what he was today, and I think you’ll hear a lot more from Roy H.”
According to Miller, Roy H has run only 14 times due to a variety of little issues.
“We cut him and gave him some time off, and he came back a new horse,” the trainer said.
Based on the horse’s recent figures and a near-track record performance on a wet-fast track at Santa Anita in May, Miller was confident that his horse fit in a field with several stakes winners.
“If my horse ran his race, he’d win,” said Miller, “and he showed up today.”
With a handful of horses left to run at Belmont this weekend, New York may give Miller a few more reasons to celebrate his cross-country jaunt…and despite having won a race at Santa Anita within minutes of the True North, he couldn’t resist one more good-natured dart.
“The way the stewards treat me in California,” he joked, “I might be (moving) to New York.”