Runhappy runs to a Championship in the BC Sprint

November 03, 2015 05:25am

Seldom do horses come from places like Turfway Park, Indiana Grand, and Ellis Park to become a champion. Then again, few horses are like Runhappy. Running in relative anonymity in midwestern racing’s mid-major racetracks, the only ones who knew how special Runhappy was, were those who actually saw any of his powerful victories. Even then, though, it was hard to fathom just how good he truly was. Making the most of his shot at the big leagues, the Maria Borell trained colt had his coming out party with a Grade 1 win in the King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga. Another graded stakes win followed, and he was a secret no more. In front of more than 50,000 race fans in the heart of the bluegrass, the son of Super Saver came to Keeneland for the biggest test of his young career in the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Runhappy ran to a championship in typically sensational style.

Sensational it was, but the way he earned his three-quarter length victory over the always tough Private Zone, was a whole new ballgame. As is his custom, Runhappy did not get off to the fastest of breaks, but unlike his past performances, the Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale owned star did not gun right to the lead, but rather sat behind his main rival Private Zone in third.

Ridden by Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado, the 8-5 favorite stayed behind the second choice, as well as, Holy Boss through fractions of :22.05 and :44.31. It appeared a nice position, albeit, a new experience for the speedy colt, but when Private Zone started to get away just a bit at the top of the stretch, those backing Runhappy had to wonder if this was meant to be his day.

I am just not used to him not going to the lead like that,” said Borell. “I was nervous.”

The worries over Runhappy’s chances would be fleeting. The sophomore son of the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner quickly kicked into high gear down the lane, and reeled in Private Zone in deep stretch. Runhappy powered on by to an impressive, and championship clinching victory. The final time for the six furlongs of 1:08.58 was a Keeneland track-record.

“That is the first time he stalked off the pace like that,” remarked a jubilant Borell. “I was nervous, but he did it. I can't believe it.”

“From the first time I got on this horse, I knew he was special,” said Prado. “He keeps getting better and better. For me, he’s second to Barbaro. Early in the race when we were further back, we were worried about him (taking) kick back, but he just did fine and we started picking up horses. And, then he really turned it on.”

The Lasix-free winner paid $5.20 for the win, while the exacta over Private Zone returned $24.40. 23-1 shot Favorite Tale ran a big race to complete the trifecta.

In earning the initial Breeders' Cup victory for both McIngvale and Borell, Runhappy raised his lifetime record to 7-6-0-0 in a career that began less than a year ago. His only loss came in the 1 mile and 70 yard Lecomte Stakes in his second career start.

Happily, his connections plan to keep the Runhappy train rolling through next year, with thoughts of stretching him out beyond his current sprinter status, but for now, the winner of five straight will undoubtedly be named America’s best sprinter. It is a championship well earned.


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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