LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016) – Reigning Champion Male Sprinter Runhappy breezed six furlongs from the starting in 1:14.40 under jockey Edgar Prado on Thursday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for his much-anticipated 4-year-old debut in the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (Grade III) on Oct. 1.
Owned by James McIngvale, the homebred son of Super Saver broke from the starting gate at the quarter pole and finished at the half-mile pole on the backstretch. Churchill Downs clockers caught Runhappy in fractions of :26, :37.80, :48.40 and 1:01.80.
“I was happy with him,” said trainer Laura Wohlers. “He broke fairly well but then he ducked in. (The gate) was in kind of a weird place and I think that may have cost him a couple of seconds but I think that he was just nice and relaxed and that was key. I think that he galloped out really well and looked strong around the turn.”
“He went well,” Prado said. “There was a big gap between the gate and the rail. The main thing was to get him to finish strong. He’s going a mile for the first time and we know that he’s fast and we want to use what’s there. We were trying to get him to relax and slowly pick them up. Today the gallop out was real good.”
— Churchill Downs (@ChurchillDowns) September 15, 2016
Wohlers said Runhappy could work once more at Keeneland before the Ack Ack, which is being used as a springboard to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
“I’ll take a look at what we got on the work, probably Keeneland,” Wohlers said. “The turns are so tight at the (Thoroughbred) Training Center. We’re so close to Keeneland and they let us go over there whenever we want so we’ll take a look at the gallop out today once we get the numbers off our heart rate pad.”
Runhappy (8-7-0-0—$1,481,300) put together an eye-opening campaign as a 3-year-old winning seven of eight starts, which included victories in Saratoga’s King’s Bishop (GI), Keeneland’s Phoenix (GIII), the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) at Keeneland and Santa Anita’s Malibu (GI).
Following his Eclipse Award-winning campaign, Runhappy received rest and relaxation at a farm near Austin, Texas with eyes set on a 2016 debut in May’s Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park. Those plans were scrapped when he developed a bone bruise on his front right cannon bone which forced him on the shelf for 60 days.
“When we went to Austin, the surface there was a little harder there than a normal racetrack,” Wohlers said. “I think that surface was so much harder than what he was used to that he ended up getting bruised cannon bones. He had a bruised foot so we kind of thought that was it. But he didn’t go real good once it healed so we decided to give him a bone scan. Bone bruising is normal in racehorses in general so we have to give him time and we don’t do drugs or inject joints so we got to give him plenty of time. I think he enjoyed his time off. We let him grow up a little bit, and he’s bigger and stronger this year.”