January 18, 2021

Hi Happy dashes home in Pan Am; Lull takes Honey Fox in photo

Argentinean star Hi Happy earned his first U.S. win in the Pan American (G2) (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Hi Happy, who won one of South America’s most important races as a three-year-old in 2015, earned his first U.S. victory in his sixth try in Saturday’s $250,000 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Rating in second behind pacesetter One Go All Go through early splits of :23.96, :49.21, 1:13.79, and 1:38.15, Hi Happy bid for the lead on the final turn of the 1 1/2-mile grass test, seized control approaching the quarter pole, and kicked home to win by 2 3/4 lengths under Luis Saez.

The 2-1 second choice in the field of nine, Hi Happy paid $6.80 after completing the course on firm ground in 2:23.85. Bred in Argentina by owner La Providencia, Hi Happy was making his second start for trainer Todd Pletcher after being trained by Felipe Souza in California.

One Go All Go held second by a half-length over 21-1 chance Classic Convey. Sadler’s Joy, the 9-5 favorite, was well behind early and rallied for fourth ahead of Bullards Alley, Markitoff, Bigger Picture, Tiz a Slam, and Little Nick V.

Hi Happy was a dominating three-year-old in his native land winning five group stakes in a row, including the Gran Premio Dos Mil Guineas (G1) via disqualification, the Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1), and Gran Premio Nacional (G1). He culminated his Horse of the Year campaign in December 2015 with a victory against older horses in the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1) at San Isidro, generally considered South America’s equivalent of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Imported to the U.S. in 2016, Hi Happy ran seventh in the Seabiscuit H. (G2), which was followed by fourths in the 2017 San Marcos (G2) and Santa Anita H. (G1). His final start for Souza was his best, a third-place finish by a neck in the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City (G3) at Santa Anita in April 2017.

Absent more than 10 months, he reappeared in the February 10 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) for Pletcher, where he finished third by a length to Heart to Heart. His record now stands at 12-7-0-2, $717,961.

A six-year-old by Pure Prize, Hi Happy is a full brother to Argentinean Group 1 winners Hinz and Hispanidad. All were reared by Historia, by French Deputy. Hi Happy’s fifth dam was U.S. and Canadian champion Fanfreluche.

Lull set a fast pace and just held off a late surge from longshot Res Ipsa to take the $250,000 Honey Fox (G3) by a nose for owner-breeder Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, and trainer Christophe Clement.

Making her first start since running fifth in the Matriarch (G1) in December, the four-year-old War Front filly clicked off fractions of :22.44, :45.06, and 1:08.56, opened up a 2 1/2-length with a furlong to go, but got leg weary in the final stages and just prevailed in a time of 1:33.14 for the mile on turf.

“Christophe told me she has speed and just not to take a big hold and if she wants to be there [on the lead], let her be there,” jockey Jose Ortiz said. “We were expecting softer fractions than that, but she was going fast but very relaxed. That was important in getting home.”

The 3-1 third choice in a field of nine fillies and mares, Lull paid $8.60. Res Ipsa, a 14-1 chance making her first start since October, closed with a rush to nab place honors by a half-length over 2-1 favorite On Leave. Rounding out the order of finish was Island Reward, Stormy Victoria, Grizzel, Team of Teams, Glory to Kitten, and Conquest Hardcandy.

This was the fourth career stakes win for Lull, who previously landed the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies and Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint on the all-turf track in southern Kentucky, as well as the Autumn Miss (G3) at Santa Anita last October. She’s placed in four other stakes, including the San Clemente H. (G2), Jessamine (G3), and Franklin County (G3). Clement said the Just a Game (G1) over a mile on the Belmont Stakes undercard would be an early-season goal.

Out of Quiet Now, by Tiznow, Lull’s second dam was Grade 2 winner Quiet Dance. She reared 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam and is also the second dam of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

Lull has now earned $822,857 from a line of 13-5-3-1.