It was an exacta for the Claiborne stallion barn on Friday at Churchill Downs when RUNHAPPY’s Smile Happy beat home future Claiborne stallion ART COLLECTOR to the line in the Alysheba Stakes (G2), posting a 110 Beyer, the highest Beyer earned in a route race so far this year.
Smile Happy broke well in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race and quickly took up duties pushing the pacesetter in a close second place position. That duo raced a few lengths ahead of the rest of the field early on before the rest of the horses caught up to them going into the far turn.
At that point, Smile Happy got serious and by the time they hit the stretch had the lead with a charging ART COLLECTOR trying to catch him. The wire came too soon for that one to get up in time with Smile Happy winning by two lengths and only one other horse within 11 lengths of the leader at the end.
Smile Happy is trained by Kenny McPeek for Lucky Seven Stables and took his earnings over $1 million with this win. It was the fourth win in eight starts for the 4-year-old RUNHAPPY colt who also won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) as a juvenile and finished second in both the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and Risen Star Stakes (G2) before running in last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1).
“I’m really not surprised,” McPeek said of the win. “We learned a valuable lesson in his last race at Oaklawn. He’s a true alpha. He wants everything his own way. But he can run like the wind. I’m really proud of him.”
Sold for $175,000 as a weanling, he was purchased by his racing owner for $185,000 the following year from the Hunter Valley Farm consignment.
Moreau Bloodstock International and White Bloodstock bred the winner out of the three-time victress Pleasant Smile. That mare also produced multiple stakes placed Wilko Rum and two other winners from her four to race in total. Pleasant Smile is a half-sister to stakes winner Miracle Mets and stakes placed Proud Sunset.
Smile Happy is the third stakes winner of the year for RUNHAPPY Smile Happywith five stakes performers overall, both putting him in the top five among all fourth crop sires. In all, RUNHAPPY has sired 11 stakes winners and 18 stakes performers from his first three crops.