Drafted rallies from last to win G3 Runhappy

May 14, 2022

ELMONT, N.Y. – Dublin Fjord Stables, Racepoint Stables, Kevin D. Hilbert and Thomas E. O’Keefe’s Drafted secured his second graded stakes victory from three starts this year, launching a rally in deep stretch to capture Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Runhappy at Belmont Park.

Drafted, trained by David Duggan, arrived at the six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward off a distant fifth in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack. Reunited with jockey Jose Ortiz, who piloted Drafted to a victory in the Grade 3 Toboggan in February at the Big A, the 8-year-old Field Commission veteran showed that age is far from an issue at this stage in his career, gunning down last year’s Runhappy runner-up Chateau in the final furlong to secure his fourth group/graded stakes victory.

Drafted broke from post 2, just to the outside of Chateau, who displayed his usual frontrunning tactics and led through an opening quarter-mile in 22.61 seconds over the fast main track with graded stakes-winner Officiating tracking in second. Drafted, in last position approaching the turn, began making up ground as Chateau maintained command through a half-mile in 45.57.

Ortiz began calling on Drafted in upper stretch, weaving him to the outside of a retreating Officiating and Repo Rocks. With Chateau still to catch in the last eighth of a mile, Drafted made up considerable ground and had enough left to collar the pacesetter in the final jumps to win by one length in a final time of 1:10.84. Chateau was three-quarters of a length ahead of a re-rallying Officiating in third.

Repo Rocks, who was bumped at the start, finished fourth. Answer In, whose reins broke during race, did not finish the course and was accompanied by the outrider back to the unsaddling area.

In the last out Carter Handicap with Carmouche up, Drafted was asked to step up against a stacked field which included graded stakes winners Speaker’s Corner, First Captain, and Mind Control.

Ortiz said he felt confident Drafted could return to winning form in the Runhappy.

“He’s showing us he can compete. Last time he ran against a tougher field. Speaker’s Corner is probably the best horse in the division,” Ortiz said. “He got beat that day, but he still ran good. We don’t know if he’s a Grade 1 caliber sprinter with those horses, but he’s a fun horse to ride and I think David has done an amazing job with him.”

Ortiz said the pace dynamics were altered when Repo Rocks was bumped at the start by Answer In, leaving Chateau all alone up front.

“I was a little worried when the pace didn’t develop like I thought. Chateau broke really well and Repo Rocks didn’t, so Chateau was able to get away with an easy lead,” Ortiz said. “He went fast enough, but by himself, which was good for him. I’m happy we were able to run him down.”

Duggan said Drafted can sometimes be reliant on a strong pace to secure a trip to the winner’s circle.

“He’s pace dependent. We always thought he wanted to go seven-eighths because it gave him a chance if they didn’t go fast enough that he’d be able to run them down,” Duggan said. “At the three-sixteenths pole I was a little concerned, but I knew he had momentum and dead aim on him. Jose rides him with so much confidence.”

Drafted arrived at the Runhappy off his two best Beyer Speed Figures since joining Duggan’s barn – a career-best 97 in the Toboggan and a 93 from the Carter.

“He trained well going into this race and he backed up the last two numbers. You couldn’t ask for more than that,” Duggan said.

Drafted, bred in Florida by John Foster, Barbara Hooker and Field Commission Partnership, enhanced his lifetime earnings to $939,193 and record to 27-8-2-3, which includes two Group 3 wins in Dubai while racing for trainer Doug Watson. He returned $8.60 for a $2 win ticket.

The Runhappy honors Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale’s 2015 Champion Sprinter who raced medication free through a 10-7-0-0 career, which included victories in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Grade 1 Malibu, and Saratoga’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop (now run as the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial).

Live racing resumes on Sunday at Belmont with a nine-race card featuring the $100,000 Gold Fever in Race 8. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

NYRA Press Release
Photo by Chelsea Durand

Louis & @ItsMeGinoB talk next w/@jonathanstettin about today’s races & the amazing Ruffian piece he wrote this week. twitter.com/PastTheWire/st…

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