Runhappy crowned a champ in TwinSpires BC Sprint

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 31st, 2015

The season-long fairy tale involving 32-year-old trainer Maria Borell and her three-year-old colt Runhappy ended quite happily on Saturday when the son of Super Saver broke the six-furlong Keeneland track record in the $1,375,000 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) on Saturday.

Relatively unknown with no wins to her credit when given the colt to train by owner Jim McIngvale earlier this year, Borell was made speechless and tearful when Runhappy entered the winner’s circle as the likely champion male sprinter.

Often a beat slow from the gate, Runhappy nonetheless gets into gear quickly enough to make the lead by the first call. That was surprisingly not the case in the Sprint, where Holy Boss zipped out to the lead with second choice Private Zone hot on his heels. Under Edgar Prado, Runhappy found himself chasing a target for the first time since last winter.

Private Zone opened up on Holy Boss approaching the quarter pole and in the stretch appeared to be moving stronger than Runhappy. In the final sixteenth, Private Zone began to get leg weary and Runhappy’s grinding bid picked up steam. Edging past his older rival in the final yards, Runhappy won by three parts of a length and finished up in 1:08.58. As the 8-5 favorite, he paid $5.20.

Private Zone, the second choice, ran a sparkling race at a distance generally thought to be less than optimal. He was one length ahead of Favorite Tale, who broke from post 14, while Holy Boss weakened to fourth.

A debut winner at Turfway Park last December, Ruhappy was subsequently ninth after a rough trip in the two-turn Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds. Those were his only two starts for trainer Laura Wohlers, a member of Team McIngvale who subsequently sent the colt to Borell in Kentucky.

A five-length allowance winner at Indiana Grand and a track-record setter at Ellis Park in another allowance, Runhappy made his stakes debut in the King’s Bishop (G1) at Saratoga. After a four-length score there, he prepped for this in the course-and-distance Phoenix (G3), which he won by 1 3/4 lengths despite a tardy start and having his saddle slip late.

In post-race comments, Borell proudly affirmed her no-Lasix stance while noting Runhappy has run without it throughout his seven-race career.

“I think it’s better for the breed,” she said. “I want us to have stronger horses that can run 30, 40 times in the future, like they used to be able to, and not be masked by drugs.”

Borell also expects to stretch Runhappy out next year. “I think he’ll be a brilliant miler,” she said.

Also likely to stretch out to a mile is Private Zone. It would be no surprise to see him defend his title in the November 28 Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct.

Click for TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint quotes and transcript.

(Photo: Keeneland/Coady Photography)