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Happy Jack wins Triple Bend Stakes

Happy Jack trained at the San Luis Rey Training Center before trainer Doug O'Neill brought the five-year-old horse to Santa Anita Park for racing during the current meet. On June 1, Happy Jack won the Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes.

The Triple Bend Stakes was seven furlongs on Santa Anita's dirt course. Happy Jack led for the entire race, had a winning time of 1:21.32, and finished 4 1/2 lengths in front of second-place Dr. Venkman, who began his workout career at San Luis Rey.

"We gave him some time, and he has come back as good as ever," O'Neill said.

Happy Jack is owned and was bred by Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. He was foaled on March 17, 2019. His sire, Oxbow, won the 2013 Preakness Stakes. Happy Jack's dam, Tapestry, is a foal of 2004 Kentucky Derby entrant Tapit.

The first race for Happy Jack was a six-furlong dirt race at Santa Anita on Jan. 22, 2022. He won that race by 1 1/4 lengths. Happy Jack subsequently competed in three stakes races during the Santa Anita meet that winter and spring including a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

The results of his first four races qualified Happy Jack for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, although he finished 14th among the 20 horses and was 19 lengths behind winner Rich Strike. In the 2022 Preakness, he finished eighth. Happy Jack next ran at Churchill Downs on June 19, 2022, and won that allowance race in Louisville, which had been his last victory prior to winning this year's Triple Bend Stakes.

Happy Jack raced twice more in 2022, had an 8 1/2-month layoff, and ran two races in 2023 before being given another layoff after finishing fifth in the July 1 Kelly's Landing Stakes at Ellis Park in Kentucky. His final workout in Kentucky was at the Keeneland track in Lexington on July 22, 2023.

After being given time off, Happy Jack had seven timed workouts at San Luis Rey between Feb. 14 and March 29. O'Neill then transferred him to Santa Anita and, on April 27, Happy Jack ran the Kona Gold Stakes. He finished second, three-quarters of a length in back of winner The Chosen Vron.

A coalition of four horsemen own Dr. Venkman, who was foaled in Kentucky on March 3, 2020, and sired by Ghostzapper out of Theory of Change. Dr. Venkman trained at San Luis Rey in 2022 but did not race as a two-year-old. His first two races were during the 2023 Del Mar Thoroughbred Club summer meet, and he won both of them.

Dr. Venkman's only other race prior to the Triple Bend Stakes was in the Oct. 21 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland, in which he finished second a head behind the winner.

Dr. Venkman and jockey Antonio Fresu had the inside post position for the Triple Bend Stakes. Happy Jack and rider Edwin Maldonado had the second post position.

Maldonado and Happy Jack broke first and held the lead for the remainder of the race. Tahoe Sunrise and jockey Juan Hernandez were the second entry out of the gate, and Dr. Venkman and Fresu broke third before falling back to fourth.

The first quarter of a mile took Happy Jack 23.20 seconds. He led Tahoe Sunrise by a head. Dr. Venkman was half a length behind third-place Big City Lights and a length in back of Happy Jack.

Happy Jack needed 45.96 seconds to travel half a mile from the starter's gate. He led Tahoe Sunrise by half a length at that point. Dr. Venkman trailed Big City Lights by half a length and was 1 1/2 lengths behind Happy Jack.

Dr. Venkman moved into second by the beginning of the stretch, although Happy Jack still had a 2 1/2-length lead when he reached that point 1:09.42 after the race began. Big City Lights was in third at the start of the stretch and half a length in back of Dr. Venkman, who finished the race a length ahead of Big City Lights.

"He's always shown that he has talent," O'Neill said. "He is a one turn top-notch dirt horse."

Maldonado had not previously ridden Happy Jack in a race. "I had a lot of horse," Maldonado said. "When I turned for home and asked him, he responded really well."

The third win for Happy Jack was in his 13th career race. The Triple Bend Stakes had a $200,000 purse with first place paying $120,000 and second place being worth $40,000. Happy Jack increased his career earnings to $445,560 while Dr. Venkman now has career earnings of $178,500.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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