The margin was narrower but the result the same for Happy American, who followed up his win in the Dec. 26 Tenacious S. with another Fair Grounds triumph Saturday in the $146,000 Louisiana (G3) for older horses.
Benefiting from a strong pace in the Tenacious, Happy American rallied to win that test by 2 3/4 lengths. This time, however, Happy American chased more pedestrian fractions of :25.08, :49.75, and 1:15.09, set by Forza Di Oro.
The upside of the slower tempo was that Happy American rated a bit closer to the pace, no more than 5 1/2 lengths behind Forza Di Oro, and was able to produce the best late kick when the race developed into a sprint to the wire.
In a three-way battle to the finish, Happy American edged Tenacious runner-up Mr. Wireless by a neck, with Forza Di Oro another neck behind in third. Completing the order of finish were Run Classic, 13-10 favorite Zozos, Chess Chief, and Intrepid Heart.
“He came out of the last race super,” said Neil Pessin, who trains Happy American for owner Bob Lothenbach. “He’s a horse on the improve.”
Under James Graham, Happy American covered 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:45.33 and paid $10 as the 4-1 second choice.
Reported as gelded since his win in the Tenacious, the five-year-old was registering his first graded stakes win in the Louisiana and his fifth overall in 16 lifetime starts.
Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm, Happy American is by Runhappy and out of Queen America, a Quiet American mare who has also reared Grade 2 winner Well Monied and Grade 3 scorer Economic Model, plus the graded-placed stakes winners Jimmy Simms and Your Love. Queen of America is also the second dam of Grade 3 winner Will’s Secret.