After Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen's champion sprinter Roy H began his 2018 season with the easiest of victories in the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) Feb. 3 at Santa Anita Park, trainer Peter Miller mentioned a run in the March 10 Triple Bend Stakes (G1) might come next.
But with the major early season target clearly stated as the March 31 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) for the More Than Ready gelding, the obvious question was, would the Triple Bend be too much, too soon?
Miller even initially leaned toward skipping the Triple Bend, but said Feb. 21 that the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) winner will indeed get a final prep for his trip to Dubai in the six-furlong test at Santa Anita.
"We're going to run in the Triple Bend," Miller said. "Originally we weren't, but now we are. Originally it felt like too much, but (the Palos Verdes) was so easy on him."
Rockingham Ranch racing manager Brian Trump expounded on the decision later Wednesday and referenced a possible campaign for 2018 Horse of the Year for Roy H.
"It's not something you can really shoot for, and it's kinda tongue-in-cheek, but if things fall into the right places, it's not entirely out of the question," Trump said. "The Pegasus (World Cup, G1) winner (Gun Runner ) is retired, and West Coast could be a monster this year, but there's also a good crop of 3-year-olds this year and there might be a different winner in all the Triple Crown races.
"If a horse wins six or seven grade 1s and puts up those kinds of earnings, it's not out of the question."
A sprinter winning Horse of the Year would be a significant departure from the recent history of the award, but it's not unheard of. Forego was the last horse to be named champion sprinter and Horse of the Year in the same season, and that came in 1974 (he was also champion older horse that year, winning graded stakes from seven furlongs to two miles).
"We haven't mapped out anything after (the Golden Shaheen), other than that we have a sprinter who is a gelding—so we're not thinking about breeding—and he's 6 years old," Trump said, when asked if Roy H could be stretched out to a one-turn mile for a race like the June 9 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. "And you have to run them when they're good. He's a sprinter. The most he would probably go is seven (furlongs), but we've done crazier things."