Bloodlines: What A Difference A Year Has Made For Runhappy - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Bloodlines: What A Difference A Year Has Made For Runhappy

Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner Smile Happy

The dark bay colt Smile Happy (by Runhappy) remained unbeaten in two starts with his victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs and pushed his lifetime earnings to $284,810. This son of champion sprinter Runhappy (Super Saver) tops a lustrous year for the Claiborne Farm stallion, who now stands third among second-crop sires.

Not only an Eclipse Award winner, Runhappy was a handsomely pedigreed son of a classic winner with a classic pedigree. In addition, Runhappy's sire, Super Saver (Maria's Mon), won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at two before going on to classic success the following May.

Yet 11 months ago at the end of 2020, Runhappy was toiling in 15th place on the freshmen sires list, with nine winners, but no stakes winners. Not a one! There's no need to describe how rapidly breeders left what they perceived was a sinking ship, even though the horse's stud fee was slashed to account for the lack of immediate stakes horses.

What a difference a year makes!

In 2021, with another month of racing left, Runhappy is in third place on the national list for second-crop sires, with progeny earnings of $4.1 million. That's 10 times the earnings from the first season results.

And how can something like that happen, you might ask?

Part of it's luck. If only a few of the nicer prospects have a bump in the road, get sick, or get into the hands of someone who wants them to do something they aren't equipped to do, the results are usually nil.

Part of it's planning. With the first-crop racers by Runhappy, there were some extremely attractive bonuses for winning races at key racetracks, and who knows how many horses went cockeyed from trainers and owners pointing their young stock for those spots.

Part of it's pedigree and aptitude. Although he was champion sprinter and winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint in record time, Runhappy is the son of a Kentucky Derby winner out of a mare by a classic-type son of Unbridled in Broken Vow.

Now the second crop is doing the job in spades, with 15 winners and four stakes winners so far, and overall, the stallion has a half-dozen stakes winners and 10 total stakes horses, all this year. In achieving 10 times the progeny earnings, black type is where most of the added earning power comes from.

One other point of importance is that Runhappy's 3-year-olds and juveniles both have had much better seasons in 2021. And if the second crop of current juveniles finds as much improvement over the next 12 months as the first has made, what will 2022 bring for this young stallion?

Doubtless, one of the things it will bring is more good mares, especially since Runhappy's stud fee is $12,500 for next year, half of the figure he stood for his first four seasons at stud.

One of the mares sent to the horse in his second season was a daughter of the highly accomplished racehorse Pleasant Tap (Pleasant Colony). Pleasant Smile is the dam of Smile Happy, and he is the mare's fourth winner and second stakes horse.

A half-sister to stakes winner Miracle Mets (Metfield), Pleasant Smile is out of a mare by Relaunch, and the next dam is by the top sire Graustark (Ribot).

That third dam is Bunch of Smiles, a full sister to Cherished Moment, who ran second in the 1984 Ashland Stakes, and they are out of Pumpkin Patch, a foal of 1966 who was a daughter of the legendary Bold Ruler, probably the best of all the great stallions ever to stand at Claiborne Farm.

Pumpkin Patch is a daughter of the important broodmare Bravura (Niccolo Dell'arca), and Bravura and her early foals were bred by John Galbreath of Darby Dan Farm. The mare's second foal was Candalita (Olympia), who won the 1964 Spinaway and Matron and was nearly the best filly in the country that season.

The very best juvenile filly of 1964 was champion Queen Empress (Bold Ruler), and as must have seemed obvious at the time, Bravura, dam of a top juvenile filly, was sent to Bold Ruler, the sire of both juvenile champions in 1964, for the breeding seasons of 1965 and 1966. The racetrack results were dreadful. Pumpkin Patch did not race; the 1967 foal, a filly named Lizanne Dear, only managed to place at two.

After the mare produced Candalita, Galbreath's son Daniel acquired Bravura and bred the Bold Ruler disappointments, but then the younger Galbreath bred the mare to Hail to Reason (Turn-to) and got Hail the Pirates, who won the Gallinule and Desmond Stakes abroad, then won the Widener, Seminole, and Queen's County Handicaps here in the States.

Sired by a high-class racehorse and half-brother to Nearco, Bravura was out of a half-sister to American leading sire Alibhai (Hyperion). This was a pedigree of international significance, and it has continued to play a role at the top level.

In fact, the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide and runner-up Empire Maker (Unbridled) both have Bravura as their fifth dam. The line comes to Funny Cide through the Graustark mare Cherished Moment (mentioned above), and Empire Maker descends through Bravura's first foal, the Swaps mare Ortalan. She produced Walker's (Jaipur), winner of the Sanford Stakes at 2 and a sire in California, and is the granddam of multiple stakes winner Image of Reality (In Reality), who is the dam of Toussaud (El Gran Senor), the 2002 Broodmare of the Year and producer of four G1 winners.

With Smile Happy, this family is back in the limelight again.

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