Happy American (outside) wins the 53rd running of the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds. (Hodges Photography/Jan Brubaker)
“Road to the Derby Kickoff Day”
Fair Grounds Press Release
NEW ORLEANS, La. – After suffering a heartbreaking loss in last year’s edition of the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes, Lothenbach Stables’ Happy American returned to the scene of the crime, and this time he was the one who stole the show.
In his customary position near the back of the pack early, Happy American had a good view of several heels, including those of the pacesetter Five Star General, who carved out fractions of :24.21 and :47.85.
Mr. Wireless, who stalked the pace while wide, slowly advanced his way to the front, while Happy American picked off horses one by one, while enduring an outside trip of his own. With the serious turn of foot he has so often displayed, Happy American quickly rallied to the front, leaving Mr. Wireless in his wake while drifting noticeably in the stretch, extending the margin to 2 3/4 lengths across the wire and stopping the clock at 1:44.19. Forza Di Oro, the 2-1 post time favorite, finished an even third.
“He was very good today, has been very good his whole career,” regular rider James Graham in scoring his third stakes win of the day. “Last year I thought we won by a head, but today we made sure he won by more than a head. He drifted at the end because he’s still a big baby learning what he has to do. He saw the big screen, first time under the lights. When he’s won before he’s never run away from them that fast–he’s always had someone with him to the sixteenth pole, today we were about four (lengths) in front at the eighth pole.”
For Tenacious, Race 13, forward to 21:12.
Happy American returned $15.20, $6.00 and $3.40 for the winning performance. Spa City, defending Tenacious champ Chess Chief, Business Model, Intrepid Heart, Rightandjust, Farmington Road, Beaver Hat and Five Star General completed the order of finish.
“He’s an improving horse,” trainer Neil Pessin said. “He’s had some time off. He ran a big race at Churchill (3rd off a 7 1/2 month layoff on Nov 13) but had some trouble in that race. He’s getting better and improving every day. James said in the paddock “man he looks good.” Happy American’s just getting bigger and better and we’re looking forward to a big upcoming year with him running in the stakes series at Fair Grounds all the way up to the New Orleans Classic (March 25). We’ll see how he does over the meet, and we’ll play it by ear from there.”
The 4-year-old colt by Runhappy now boasts a career record of 15-4-1-3 and a bankroll of $347,376.
Racing at Fair Grounds is back on Thursday with the first post scheduled for 1:15 p.m. CT and a card of eight races on the dirt. On Saturday, Dec 31, the stakes action picks back up with the $100,000 Pago Hop, $100,000 Woodchopper, the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity (Boys), and the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity (Girls).