Keeneland Photo/Coady Photography
One year ago, Runhappy was among the biggest stars of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, rallying to edge Private Zone and score an exciting win in the Sprint (gr. I). The victory marked his third graded stakes win of the season and his second against older horses, and while Runhappy’s 2016 campaign hasn’t been as successful so far, he showed signs that he could turn things around when he breezed a mile at Keeneland on October 19th.
The four-year-old colt had his season interrupted by bone bruising and has only run once this year, finishing fourth in the October 1st Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) off a nine-month layoff. That race was held at a mile, longer than the distances Runhappy is accustomed to running, but his connections are planning to press on and enter Runhappy in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I), with an eye on competing in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I) going nine furlongs next February.
With these goals in mind, Runhappy’s workout today was geared toward improving his stamina and ability to handle a two-turn mile like the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Beginning his exercise at the three-eighths pole (and thus starting the workout on the far turn), Runhappy posted fractions of :13.20, :24.60, :36.60, :48, 1:00, 1:12.40, 1:25.20 and 1:39 according to Keeneland clockers.
Even though Runhappy is 0-for-2 beyond seven furlongs, Wohlers believes the colt is up to the challenge of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. “I think he will go the distance,” Wohlers said. “He has had two good mile works and we don’t need to do a lot more. I thought maybe the mile would be a little quicker (this morning), but the track looked deeper than last week.”
According to Keeneland, Runhappy will ship to Santa Anita on October 23rd. “We will probably work five or six days out and maybe just a half-mile,” Wohlers said. “He will go to the paddock and gate even though he has been there before. We are big on schooling.”
Veteran jockey Gary Stevens will ride Runhappy in the Dirt Mile, one year after guiding the colt to a season-ending victory in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita on December 26th. “I would like to see him go to the front and open up,” Wohlers said regarding strategy for the Dirt Mile. “Gary knows he likes to run like that.”
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