RUNHAPPY’s 3-year-old crop continued to deliver on Sunday when the William Butler homebred Rotknee became his fifth stakes winner from the group with an easy victory in the Damon Runyon Stakes.
Coming in off a three-length victory in February, Rotknee went straight to the lead in the seven furlong stakes race and took command under Manny Franco. The colt made it easy work for Franco, who let him gallop in hand for the first half mile before asking for some more effort at the top of the stretch.
Rotknee was kept focused on his job throughout the final stages of the race to gallop home 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Agility with the third placed runner 8 ½ lengths back.
“What was not to like? I heard from Mike [Maker, trainer] we were looking to do what we did,” his owner-breeder said. “The fact that he had no company [on the front end], I was thrilled. We hadn’t done the seven furlongs before so that gave me a little trepidation coming down, but he pulled out all stops.”
It was the third straight win for the Mike Maker trainee, whose only non-victory came in his debut when second last July. He is the seventh stakes winner overall for RUNHAPPY, who continues to prove to be one of the best sires in Kentucky this year.
Rotknee is a second generation homebred for Butler, who sent his three-time winning dam In Spite of Mama to WAR OF WILL last year.
In Spite of Mama’s stakes-placed dam Mama Theresa is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Haynesfield and out of the multiple stakes winner Nothing Special. This is also the family of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Touch Gold and Canadian Horse of the Year With Approval, among others.
“His [grand] dam Mama Theresa, I raced with Dominic Galluscio here for a couple of years,” Butler said of the mare. “She’s the base that we’ve put this all together from. For a guy that’s learning the ropes here, she’s been very good to me.”