Dubai: Even as he admitted “horses make liars out of you every day”, Peter Miller, the schooler of champion American sprinter Roy H, openly declared if his horse ran his race, the rest of the field in the $2.5 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen would all be running for “second money”.
It was a brave statement that cantered out from the mouth of the 52-year-old, who is widely considered among the best sprint trainers in the US.
Miller made sure he threw in the caveat as he said: “I respect all the horses. They’re all good horses. It’s a tough race, but I’ve got a two-time Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award champion and if he runs his race they’re all running for second money.
“But again the big if is ‘if he runs his race’. He didn’t run his race last year and he’s got to run his race otherwise it’s anyone’s game.”
Miller is only going by experience and the big ‘if’ is perhaps down to what happened last year when the seven-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready failed to show up in the 1,200m dirt contest as he finished third behind Mind Your Biscuits, who successfully defended the Dubai Golden Shaheen title he had won a year earlier.
In 2018, Roy H defended two titles he had won a year prior when winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which led to him being crowned American Champion Sprint Horse for the second consecutive year at the prestigious Eclipse Awards.
This year Miller has come prepared and believes his stable star might be in better shape as he works to better his showing in Dubai.
“I think we’ve maybe not trained him quite as hard as we did last year and that I’m thinking is the only difference,” Miller said.
“He missed the break last year and that cost him the race. I think he missed three-four lengths at the start and no horse can overcome that against good horses so I hope that he gets a good start and he runs his race.
“He’s the best horse, he is a two-time Breeders’ Cup champion and two times Eclipse winner so he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, let alone me. If this was at home I’d feel pressure, but being halfway around the world levels the playing field so if he runs his race he’ll win, but it’s a big ‘if’. If it wasn’t for candies and nuts it’d be Christmas all year long.”
Roy H is one of four runners fielded by the diminutive American. Stormy Liberal and Belvoir Bay run in the $2 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, while Gray Magician gets his chance to display his trickery in the $2.5 million Group 2 UAE Derby.
Like Roy H, Stormy Liberal defended his Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint title last year and went on to his own Eclipse Award (Champion Turf Male). Also owned by Rockingham Ranch, he is Miller’s next big hope and takes the field alongside Belvoir Bay in the 1,200m Al Quoz.
Second in the Al Quoz last year, Miller expects a better show from Stormy Liberal on Saturday.
“He ran great last year and it’s a dream come true to claim a horse like him. He owes me nothing,” Miller said.
“I feel blessed and very lucky and fortunate and I am very thankful to my clients Gary and Amy Hartunian and Rockingham Ranch for giving me the opportunity to train these two fine geldings.
“To win one Breeders’ Cup race is great, but to win four back to back with the same two horses is a dream come true.”