Stablemates who survived California blaze bid for fairytale success in Sprint
Get the tissuebox by your side when watching the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night as emotional scenes are guaranteed if Conquest Tsunami or Richard's Boy, survivors of last December's Californian wildfires, land the $1.2 million (£888,000) first prize.
US trainer Peter Miller lost five horses to the week-long blazes after letting 80 horses loose, with 75 horses from the whole San Luis Rey Downs training centre left unaccounted for.
Conquest Tsunami and Richard's Boy, two of Miller's four runners at Meydan on Saturday, returned home in the aftermath of the blaze, with the former scoring on his reappearance at Santa Anita last month, defeating reopposing stablemate Stormy Liberal in the Daytona Stakes.
Miller said: "It was a nightmare and a real disaster. I wouldn't have wished that week on my worst enemy and it's something you don't want to go through.
"We couldn't find a lot of the horses for two to three days and eventually tracked down Richard's Boy in a backyard farm ten miles away, while Conquest Tsunami spent a month in the clinic due to severe burns.
"These horses are so resilient and the support from the horseracing community worldwide was overwhelming.
"It was traumatic for the people, staff and the horses and it would mean the world if one were to win on the big stage this weekend."
Conquest Tsunami is a general 16-1 shot for Saturday's contest while Richard's Boy is a top-priced 33-1.
Miller's other runner on World Cup night is Roy H, general 5-4 favourite for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen and a sprinter already in the heart of rider Kent Desormeaux, who confirmed his affinity for the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner after partnering him on an eyecatching workout on Tuesday.
The Hall of Fame jockey said: "I have to sit on Roy H and try to be Houdini by attempting to slow him down.
"He was very impressive this morning – he's an amazing horse and covers alot of real estate with his massive stride. He's by far the best sprinter I've ridden."
Earlier this month Miller was fined $2,500 and suspended for seven days by stewards of the California Horse Racing Board for an incident that involved "derogatory words about a licensee's unborn baby" in September last year.
The suspension is to be served from April 2 to April 8 with Miller placed on probation for the term of his licence, which ends in October next year.
Miller said: "This is less about me – it's more about the stewards and the California Horse Racing Board retaliating for my outspokenness against them."
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