Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

Hi Happy Notches First Stateside Win in Pan American

Hi Happy Notches First Stateside Win in Pan American

Argentine son of Pure Prize returned to winner's circle for first time since 2015.

·         By BloodHorse Staff


La Providencia's homebred Hi Happy, who took the 2015 Carlos Pellegrini (G1) in his native Argentina, returned to the winner's circle for the first time since that score to land his first stateside win in the $250,000 Pan American Stakes (G2T) March 31 at Gulfstream Park.

The 6-year-old Pure Prize runner took over from frontrunner One Go All Go after tracking second with a furlong left to run in the 1 1/2-mile test and carried on to a 2 3/4-length win under Luis Saez.  

After showing the way through fractions of :23.96, :49.21, 1:13.79, and 1:38.15, One Go All Go held for second by a half-length over Classic Covey, while defending race winner and 9-5 favorite Sadler's Joy came in fourth.

Hi Happy won six straight races in his native country, four of them group 1 events, but failed to win in four starts in graded company when he was sent to the West Coast, including a fourth in the 2017 Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1). He was away from the races from April of 2017 until Feb. 10, when he made his first start for Todd Pletcher and finished third in the 1 1/8-mile Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1T).

 "We felt that he ran well at a mile and an eighth last time, and today we felt with that race under his belt, he would perform," Pletcher said.

Hi Happy finished the distance in 2:23.85 on a firm turf course and returned $6.80, $4.60, and $3.80 at odds of 2-1.

"Everything went perfect," Saez said. "We sat second. At the half-mile pole, I asked my horse, and he kept battling. When we made the straight, he just took off."

Earlier on the card, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred Lull, making her first start since finishing fifth in the Matriarch Stakes (G1T) at Del Mar in November, set a fast pace and had just enough at the finish to hold off Res Ipsa to win the $250,000 Honey Fox Stakes (G3T).

A 4-year-old daughter of War Front trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Lull went to the front and set fractions of :22.44, :45.06 and 1:08.56 while being chased around the first turn and backstretch by Team of Teams and Conquest Hardcandy. Entering the stretch, Ortiz and Lull opened up a two-length advantage and were just able to hold off Res Ipsa, who closed from last, by a nose.

The winning time was 1:33.14 over a firm, 1-mile course.

"Jose is a great rider, that's why he rides so much for us," Clement said. "We were a touch worried because it was her first time back, but we knew she was big enough to win. She's top-class. Six, seven furlongs, a mile is probably her best. She's a wonderful filly to be around. Belmont day is definitely on our radar for her."

"Christophe told me she has speed and just not to take a big hold, and if she wants to be there (on the lead), let her be there," Ortiz said. "We were expecting softer fractions than that, but she was going fast but very relaxed. That was important in getting home."

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