Peter Miller, who hasn’t raced a horse since Nov. 28, returns to the barn for the first time in six months when he sends out 3-year-old gelding Respect the Code for Sunday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs.
The California-based trainer, who won nine training titles at Del Mar, took what he called a “hiatus” from training last November. He issued a press release saying he wanted to “spend more time with his family, focus on overall health and wellness, and pursue other interests.” With that decision came a transfer of most of his stable to former assistant Ruben Alvarado.
This announcement came after a horse in his care died at the San Luis Rey training center in northern San Diego County, not far from Del Mar. That was the sixth Miller horse to die in 2021, the highest casualty rate among any California trainer.
Miller was adamant that this was not the reason he was stepping aside. In that press release, Miller said nobody was forcing him out.
Miller: ‘Strictly a personal decision’ for hiatus
“I know that there may be some speculation related to this decision; however, I want to make it very clear that it is not a result of any regulatory action, secret agreement or hidden agenda of any kind. This is strictly a personal decision,” he said in the Nov. 18 release.
That announcement came 10 days before Miller ran his last horse on Del Mar’s closing day of its fall Bing Crosby Meet. That was his last race before Sunday’s six-furlong dirt allowance, when he’s returning with Respect the Code. Gary Barber, one of Miller’s biggest clients, owns Respect the Code.
Miller told Thoroughbred Daily News via text that he wanted to return with a Barber horse.
“He’s been my biggest supporter for over 15 years,” Miller texted TDN.
Sprinters are his forte
Horse Racing Nation first reported Miller’s return earlier this month. The trainer owns 1,338 wins (19%) and earnings approaching $70 million. Known as a trainer of sprinters, Miller’s horses won five Breeders’ Cup races, with geldings Roy H and Stormy Liberal capturing two apiece. Both went back-to-back in their respective events; Roy H winning the 2017 and 2018 Sprint and Stormy Liberal the 2017 and 2018 Turf Sprint.
Miller also won the 2019 Turf Sprint with British mare Belvoir Bay. Before his hiauts, Miller was also the trainer for C Z Rocket, a two-time Grade 2 winning sprinter and winner of more than $1.5 million
Miller told the Daily Racing Form he plans to run a string at Los Alamitos during that track’s two-week summer Thoroughbred meet that starts June 25. Then, Miller plans a return to Del Mar for its summer meet that starts July 22.
He told the DRF he will not race at Santa Anita this year.