Former Argentinian Horse of the Year Hi Happy, coming off his first U.S. win in the March 31 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park, worked out a similar trip to earn a Grade 1 laurel in Saturday’s $700,000 Man o’ War (G1) at Belmont Park. In both cases, the Todd Pletcher trainee kept close tabs on front-running One Go All Go before delivering the coup de grace for jockey Luis Saez.
A four-time Group 1 star at home in 2015, including the prestigious Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1), Hi Happy was content to let One Go All Go serve as his target once again. The 9-5 favorite was perfectly placed in second as One Go All Go carved out fractions of :23.95, :49.50, 1:15.15, and 1:39.78 on the good inner turf. Although the pacesetter tried to kick away in the stretch, Hi Happy had his move covered, and once lengthening stride, overpowered him. Wider out, Sadler’s Joy was launching his typically belated rally from last, but he could not peg back the more tactically astute winner.
Hi Happy prevailed while negotiating 1 3/8 miles on the good inner turf in 2:14.79. Sadler’s Joy collared One Go All Go for runner-up honors. Thus the Pan American form was nearly replicated, for Sadler’s Joy had finished fourth behind Hi Happy and One Go All Go at Gulfstream.
Call Provision, briefly in contention in the stretch, could not sustain his bid and checked in fourth, reminiscent of his finish – also behind One Go All Go – in the April 21 Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland in his latest. Second off the bench, and turning back in trip from 1 1/2 miles, did not help him pack any better punch.
“He was perfect,” Saez recapped. “He broke pretty good, pretty clean, sharp. He was right there in the perfect position. We had a feeling we would be right there, but everything came so well. When we came to the three-eighths, he was ready to run. I felt the other horses coming, but he never gave up. He was always trying, so I just kept going with him and he finished very strongly.”
“It was just a perfect trip, exactly what we were hoping for,” Pletcher noted. “He delivered a big performance. We’re very proud of him. We’ll see how he bounces out of it.”
La Providencia’s homebred Hi Happy has now eclipsed the million-mark with approximately $1.092 million in earnings from a 13-8-0-2 line. The son of Pure Prize compiled a perfect six-for-six record in Argentina, with the Gran Premio Dos Mil Guineas (G1) coming via disqualification. After landing the Premio Ensayo (G2), Hi Happy captured the final two jewels of the Argentine Triple Crown, the Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1) and Gran Premio Nacional (G1) (his first try on dirt). He crowned his career there in the South American “Arc,” the Pellegrini, and set off for the international stage.
Taking up residence in Southern California with Felipe Souza, Hi Happy did not perform up to his lofty level. He made his U.S. premiere in the 2016 Seabiscuit (G2), off an almost year-long layoff, and understandably tired to seventh. Hi Happy was a better fourth in the 2017 San Marcos (G2) and reverted to dirt for the Santa Anita H. (G1), again finishing fourth. Up in trip for last April’s Tokyo City Cup (G3), he was just denied in third.
Hi Happy resurfaced with Pletcher this winter. His closing third in the February 10 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) was an encouraging sign, and it duly set him up for the Pan Am. Now that he made it two straight in the Man o’ War, he could go for a hat trick in the Manhattan H. (G1) on Belmont Day.
Out of the French Deputy mare Historia, Hi Happy is a full brother to Argentinian Group 1 stars Hinz, successful in the 2011 Dos Mil Guineas, and Hispanidad, heroine of the 2016 Gran Premio Polla de Potrancas (G1). He traces to Canadian Hall of Famer and influential matron Fanfreluche.
Earlier in the $200,000 Beaugay (G3) over the same course, German highweight A Raving Beauty made a stunning American debut and topped the Chad Brown exacta.
Last seen finishing second in the October 29 Premio Lydia Tesio (G1) at Rome’s Capannelle, the multiple German stakes scorer was sold for €225,000 at Arqana in December. A Raving Beauty popped up on the Palm Meadows worktab in March, got in a breeze at Belmont last Sunday, and promptly dusted the Beaugay field for new owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Bethlehem Stables.
Team of Teams got away with comfortable splits of :25.62, :49.87, and 1:12.97, so accordingly appeared to be sitting pretty straightening for home. But A Raving Beauty, poised just a couple of lengths back early, inhaled her down the lane. Quickening in style, the 5-2 second choice was three lengths clear at the wire.
Stablemate Inflexibility, the even-money favorite, was along to nab the 11-1 Lido by a neck for second. Team of Teams retreated to fourth.
“She broke a lot better than I thought she would,” Brown said of A Raving Beauty. “She’s been training extremely well, and was a lot more forwardly placed than I thought anticipated.
“I thought Irad did a really good job to cover up. He had a choice there at the first eighth to maybe put her outside the other speed horse to see if he could settle her that way or cover up, but I think if he chose to put her outside she might have run off so I think he really won the race by choosing to cover up and then she did settle down.”
A Raving Beauty improved her resume to 18-4-3-2, $319,483. The gray was initially campaigned by breeder Gestut Karlshof. Although her two stakes victories came in listed events at Hanover and Hoppegarten last season, she also placed versus males in the Grosser Preis der Landeshauptstadt Dusseldorf (G3) prior to her Roman excursion.
The five-year-old Mastercraftsman mare was produced by Anabasis, a High Chaparral half-sister to multiple German highweight Alianthus. She descends from another branch of the superb German family responsible for Urban Sea, the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner and immortal dam of Galileo and Sea the Stars.