By Bill Finley
Peter Miller, who has not started a horse since Nov. 28, will make his return Sunday at Churchill Downs when he sends out Respect the Code (Honor Code) in the eighth race.
Miller announced last fall that he was taking a break from training, explaining in a press release that he wanted to “spend more time with his family, focus on overall health and wellness, and pursue other interests.” At the time, the bulk of his stable was moved over to his former assistant Ruben Alvarado.
In a text message, Miller, 55, explained that he chose to launch his comeback with Respect the Code because he wanted his first horse back to be owned by Gary Barber. “He's been my biggest supporter for over 15 years,” Miller wrote.
Miller went on to explain that Respect the Code is his only horse he has in Kentucky and that the bulk of his stable will be in Southern California. He said he is gearing up for the meets at Los Alamitos and Del Mar. The Los Alamitos meet begins June 22 and the Del Mar season begins July 13.
When asked via text if the horses that had been turned over to Alvarado will return to his stable, Miller wrote, “I hope so.”
Miller's status at Santa Anita remains unclear. By deadline for this story, Aidan Butler, the chief operating officer for 1/st Racing, which owns, Santa Anita, had not responded to a text asking whether or not Miller's entries would be accepted at the Arcadia, California track.
Miller's announcement that he was stepping away from training came shortly after a horse under his care died at the San Luis Rey training center. In 2021, five horses in his care suffered catastrophic injuries, the highest number of any single trainer in California this year. Though 1/st Racing did not publicly take any action against Miller, there was speculation that he was forced out. When announcing his hiatus, Miller said the decision was strictly his own.
“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,” he said in the press release. “This is strictly a personal decision.”
Miller, who has won nine training titles at Del Mar, has 1,338 career wins.