If Runhappy sired a winner in a Kentucky Derby points prep, a big bet from Mattress Mack could not be far behind. On Sunday, Jim McIngvale did not disappoint.
Less than 24 hours after a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and a little more than an hour before the Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed Sunday, McIngvale bet $10,000 on Smile Happy to win the Run for the Roses next May 7. That immediately moved the odds from 15-1 to 7-1 on the way to an 8-1 closing price.
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At the same time, according to Churchill Downs, the owner of Texas-based Gallery Furniture bet $3,000 on his horse Runhappy, the sire of Smile Happy, to be the winning stallion in the 2022 Derby. That cut Runhappy from 17-1 to 5-1. He closed at 7-1.
I had a busy day,” McIngvale told Horse Racing Nation by phone from Texas. “My sister-in-law did it, because she’s at Churchill Downs.”
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Smile Happy’s trainer Kenny McPeek posted photos of McIngvale’s tickets on Twitter with the message, “To be clear, these are not my tickets. Who do they belong to?”
That was not much of a mystery. McIngvale makes no secret of his big sports wagers, especially since he pairs them with promotions to refund to customers the cost of their new mattresses if his bets cash.
Less publicized might be Runhappy’s improved second foal crop led in 2021 by Vosburgh Stakes (G2) winner Following Sea.
“The first year was rough, but this year has been great,” McIngvale said. “In fact, he’s right now the No. 10 leading sire in average earnings per running for this entire year. That’s a pretty darn good stat. With his stud fee of $12,500, that’s a whole lot less than the other ones.”
Runhappy also sired Rotknee, a maiden-winning colt who is trained by Mike Maker and is 200-1 in Derby futures posted in Nevada by Caesars at William Hill.
Smile Happy’s odds in Las Vegas dropped from 50-1 to 20-1 after his emphatic victory Saturday night in the Kentucky Jockey Club. McIngvale said his money had no influence on that number.
“I don’t bet (horses) in Las Vegas,” he said. “I just bet in Kentucky where I can support the local tracks and the local horsemen. I think it’s very important to do that. All my money is staying in Kentucky.”
Unless, of course, Smile Happy were to win the Derby next spring. Then it would be going back to Texas. Or at least to a Texan who did not see Smile Happy’s victory during the weekend at Churchill Downs.
“I was busy selling sofas and mattresses so I can pay for my racehorse habit,” McIngvale said. “After I talked to Kenny, he had glowing praise for the horse. I knew he ran a lights-out race. It was very, very exciting for Smile Happy and very exciting for his daddy Runhappy.”
Smile Happy will be shipped to Florida with McPeek’s other horses with a campaign at Gulfstream Park being the intended path back to Louisville for the Derby.
Through Runhappy, who stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., McIngvale is a Horse Racing Nation sponsor.