OZONE PARK, N.Y. – M and A Racing’s Happy Farm, with Jorge Vargas, Jr. up for trainer Jason Servis, held off a late charge from Wonderful Light to capture Sunday’s rescheduled Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight by three-quarters-of-a-length in the final stakes event of the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet. Happy Farm, who made his stakes debut in the six furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and upwards, broke alertly from the outside post in a field of six and stalked the early foot of Strike Power through an opening quarter-mile in 22.55 seconds. Strike Power, who captured the Grade 3 Swale last year at Gulfstream Park, toiled through a pressured lead as Happy Farm took control through a half-mile in 45.96 with Seethisquick looming outside rivals in third. Recruiting Ready, winner of the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint in March, was sent to post as the 1-2 mutuel favorite.
The 9-time winner, with Tyler Gaffalione up, was nestled in fourth position behind rivals through the turn in need of racing room. Happy Farm maintained command as the field straightened away with Recruiting Ready and Wonderful Light launching outside bids, while Strike Power gave way along the rail.
Wonderful Light, with Joel Rosario up, surged with intent in the final 70 yards, but could not reel in a determined Happy Farm, who completed six furlongs in 1:11.91 on the fast main track. “My horse broke quick and the assistant [Henry Argueta, assistant to Servis] told me he was going to be sharp,” said Vargas, Jr. “I just tried to relax him. By the turn, he was going quick, but he was relaxed. I smooched at him a little bit and he jumped on it right away. When they came to me, I had something to fight back with.” Rosario said Wonderful Light was valiant in defeat, completing the exacta a half-length the better of Recruiting Ready. “I thought I was going to get there for a little while, but he gave a good effort,” said Rosario. Seethisquick, Strike Power and the slow-starting No Distortion completed the order of finish. Nicodemus, who ran ninth in Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile, was scratched.
Bred in Florida by Rustlewood Farm, Happy Farm banked $115,500 in victory while improving his record to 8-4-2 from 19 starts. He paid $16.40 for a $2 win ticket. The 59-day Aqueduct winter meet, which offers 45 stakes races, begins on Thursday with an eight-race card. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
Via NYRA Press Release