Runhappy to aim for Met Mile after Texas vacation

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

December 28th, 2015

Presumptive sprint champion Runhappy is scheduled to ship out of Santa Anita to enjoy a well-deserved vacation in Texas, the home base of owner Jim McIngvale. The TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) hero, who just extended his winning streak to six in this past Saturday’s Malibu (G1), has his first target of 2016 in sight: Belmont Park’s historic Metropolitan Mile (G1) in June.

Jonathan “Finn” Green, consultant for deWaal Thoroughbreds, LLC, discussed plans with Santa Anita publicity.

“He came out great,” Green said Sunday, the day after the Malibu. “I had my hand on his rib cage in the winner’s circle and it wasn’t even moving. By the time we got to the test barn, he was dry. He was great this morning.

“I think the horse will leave Santa Anita Monday night to a farm in Texas. He’ll get some time off now with the Met Mile on his agenda. We might get a prep race for him or we might train him into the Met Mile.”

The matter of Runhappy’s training has been a flashpoint of controversy. Originally trained by Laura Wohlers, McIngvale’s sister-in-law, the Super Saver colt romped in his debut at Turfway despite racing erratically. He tried to stretch out for the January 17 Lecomte (G3), only to tire to ninth after a rough trip and exited the race with a stress fracture.

Runhappy then joined the virtually unknown Maria Borell, reverted to sprinting, and vaulted into prominence. He rolled through allowance conditions at Indiana Downs and Ellis Park in July, blazed to a four-length conquest of the King’s Bishop (G1) in a near track-record 1:20.54 for seven furlongs at Saratoga, blitzed his elders in the Phoenix (G3) at Keeneland, and came right back to capture the Breeders’ Cup Sprint over the same track and six-furlong trip in 1:08.58.

All the while, Runhappy and Borell became a social media sensation, the bond between the brilliant colt and the beautiful young horsewoman, who was nurturing his talent as well as his psyche.

But the feel-good story was abruptly shattered the day after the Breeders’ Cup, when Borell took to Twitter to announce that Runhappy was being taken away from her and returned to Wohlers. That bombshell created a media firestorm, recriminations, and now legal action, with Borell filing a lawsuit and McIngvale responding with a motion to dismiss. (If you want all of the details, The Paulick Report has been keeping up with the saga.)

Meanwhile, with the soap opera going on all around him, Runhappy went out and dominated the Malibu for Wohlers.

We can only hope that Runhappy can be brought back to this peak after his lengthy holiday. If so, the Met Mile could be fun. His combination of blistering early speed, and finding more late in his seven-furlong races, suggests that Belmont’s one-turn mile should suit him well. As a son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver, you’d like to think that he’d stay further, but time will tell.

Photo courtesy of Santa Anita/Benoit.