RUNHAPPY’S Rotknee has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in New York this year and Monday was no different when the 3-year-old dominated the Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont Park.
The seven furlong dirt race saw Rotknee bolt the lead as soon as the gate opened. By the first call, he had three lengths on the field and by the half was nearing five lengths. He continued to extend throughout the race with a seven-length lead in midstretch.
A late charge by Best Idea saw Rotknee’s lead cut down to 1 ½ lengths at the line but that was the only horse anywhere near the winner in the end with the third placed runner five lengths behind the second-place finisher.
A homebred for William Butler, the RUNHAPPY colt has won all but two of his six starts and finished off the board only once when trying out a synthetic track.
“It was special just watching him come back,” said Butler. “The fact that he was out there by himself almost scared me. [It’s] between the Damon Runyon and this [for his favorite Rotknee victory].”
Rotknee is out of the three-time winning mare In Spite Of Mama, who is also the dam of multiple stakes-placed runner Lookin For Trouble. In Spite of Mama is a three-quarter sister to Grade 1 winner Haynesfield and is out of the stakes-placed Mama Theresa, whose five winner from five to run include the multiple stakes winner A Freud of Mama.
Rotknee was winning his second career stakes race on Monday after taking out the Damon Runyon Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths in March.
RUNHAPPY is a top five third crop sire with 15 stakes performers and eight stakes winners, led by two Grade 1 performers and five graded stakes horses.