Tenacious Trifecta Repeat as Happy American Wins G3 Louisiana

January 22, 2023

Happy American (outside) prevails in G3 Louisiana (Hodges Photography)

Fair Grounds Press Release

NEW ORLEANS— Hitting the $231 Trifecta ($2) in Saturday’s Louisiana Stakes presented by Relyne GI by Hagyard turned out to be as simple as playing the same three horses, in the exact same order, as the Tenacious Stakes run four weeks ago, with Lothenbach Stables’ Happy American closing from well off the pace to score over Mr. Wireless and Forza Di Oro.

With a fresh face in 6-5 favorite Zozos thrown into the mix, the Louisiana played out similarly to the Tenacious, but different. This time Forza Di Oro, who was content to sit third in the early stages of last month’s race, took the initiative to go to the front with jockey Florent Geroux in tow. With his Brad Cox-trained stablemate Zozos sitting comfortably to his outside, he cruised through soft opening fractions of :25.08 and :49.75 with Happy American taking up his customary position near the back of the back, sitting sixth of seven. Mr. Wireless sat fourth early and advanced towards the lead on the turn while Happy American was just starting to uncork his rally. Run Classic was seemingly uncomfortable in the pocket.

Off the turn, Forza Di Oro and Mr. Wireless continued, while Run Classic flattened and Zozos faded. Happy American engaged the top pair mid-stretch, and the trio took their battle deep into the final furlong. None of the three gave an inch, but in the end Happy American proved a neck better than Mr. Wireless and it was the same margin back to Forza Di Oro. Regular rider James Graham was aboard for trainer Neil Pessin and the final time was clocked in 1:45.33 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track. Run Classic, Zozos, Chess Chief and Intrepid Heart completed the order of finish. Gentle Soul scratched and won the Colonel E. R. Bradley on turf and Business Model was also withdrawn.

“We quickened up really, really well from about two and a half furlongs out,” said Graham, whose only previous win in the Louisiana came in 2007 with Sandburr. “I felt some pressure up on my outside, so I had to go a little sooner than I wanted to, but we quickened, and we quickened again. They ran home. We just kept finding more gears.”

As the third choice in the field of seven, Happy American returned $10.00 for the win. He boosted his career mark to 16-5-1-3 with earnings of $437,376.

“He just keeps getting better,” Pessin said. “He came out of the last race super. I almost had to put a lip chain on him just to cool him out after the last race (Tenacious). He’s a horse on the improve. I wasn’t looking at (the slow) pace, I was looking at how far back he was. As long as he was in shouting distance, I was OK.”

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