It was an impressive first Grade 1 winner for RUNHAPPY on Monday at Saratoga when 2-year-old Nutella Fella put in an eye-catching last-to-first performance to win the Hopeful Stakes (G1).
Making his second career start in the seven-furlong affair, the colt gave himself a challenge from the start when sitting over five lengths behind the rest of the field down the backstretch. As the field approached the turn, he was in touch with the field for the first time before starting to pick off horses.
Showing off his talent, Nutella Fella put on a burst of speed when angled to the outside in the stretch and the race was on.
Still needing to pass much of the field if he wanted the win, he made his presence seriously felt at the sixteenth pole when looming large behind the race leaders. It took until they were far past that pole for Nutella Fella to get fully in front but he had enough momentum to have an 1 1/2 length margin by the time he crossed the line.
“I was hoping for that [performance]. He trained like it. Mike [Sellitto], Junior Alvarado’s agent, watched him work, ran over to my barn and said, ‘Junior’s got to ride this horse.’ I said, ‘OK,’ and I let him work him a few times and the rest is history,” trainer Gary Contessa said.
Bred by Ashview Farm, Nutella Fella is trained by Contessa for Bell Gable Stable and broke his maiden in late July by 2 ¼ lengths. The colt put in a bullet work at Saratoga before coming into this race and was ranked second in his second work back after his debut victory. Contessa already has long-terms plans for the Breeders’ Cup with another race between the Hopeful and that target.
“Champagne to Breeders’ Cup, unless he throws us a curve. He’s going to stay up here the next six weeks with me and we’ll be racing in the Champagne from here. I think [he’ll get two turns]. It looked like it today,” the trainer said.”
Nutella Fella is one of two winners from two to race out of the Candy Ride mare Krissy’s Candy. The mare is a half-sister to the stakes winning Meal Penalty and Grade 3-placed Danny Boy with the trio out of Grade 2-placed Unbridled Beauty.
Krissy’s Candy’s is also the dam of a WAR OF WILL yearling colt set to sell at Keeneland September as Hip 2588 < https://catalog.keeneland.com/catalog/hip/2588/?103> in two weeks.
RUNHAPPY is now the sire of 12 stakes winners and 19 stakes performers from his first four crops with that group’s seven graded stakes horses led by Nutella Fella and three other Grade 1 performers.