ELMONT, NY – Godolphin Racing’s homebred Westwood scored his first career stakes victory on Saturday, taking over halfway through the race to take the inaugural running of the $150,000 Runhappy Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking well from post 2 under John Velazquez, Westwood ran nearly the early pace, tracking the 4-5 favorite Skyler’s Scramjet through the initial 1/4-mile in :22.37 before challenging in the far turn and getting a head past through the opening 1/2-mile in :45.56. Off the far turn, Westwood maintained his run under only mild urging, hitting the wire first by 3/4 of a length over Skyler’s Scramjet in a final time of 1:09.45 for the 6-furlong sprint over a main track upgraded to fast.
Another 3/4 of a length back, Always Sunshine took third, while Great Stuff took fourth over King Kranz to complete the order of finish. Green Gratto was scratched.
Westwood’s win improved his record to 8-4-2-1 with career earnings of $250,050. The 4-year-old gelded son of Bernardini was fifth last out in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes, his first try above the allowance level.
“He ran very well,” said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “I told Johnny it went kind of rough last time at Keeneland, there wasn’t much pace, and maybe that’s where we should be today maybe we don’t have to be on the lead, and he rode a great race. He’s a very nice horse. It looks like 6 furlongs might be best for him and there’s plenty of opportunities.”
Westwood returned $7.40 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Skyler’s Scramjet brought back $2.60 to place and $2.20 to show, while Always Sunshine paid $3.60 to show.