Happy My Way streaked wire to wire in the $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap presented by Jagermeister (gr. III) May 17 at Pimlico Race Course, securing his first graded stakes score and building a three-race winning streak (VIDEO).
Sagamore Farm and Mel Paikoff's 4-year-old Wilko gelding came off a March 29 score by 5 3/4 lengths in the March 29 Sir Shackleton Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park. He won by the same margin as the 3-5 favorite in this six-furlong event under Joe Bravo.
"This horse really excelled over the Gulfstream track," veteran trainer Joe Orseno said. "There was a little threat and fear that it was Gulfstream that got him that good. But this was good.
"I told Joe, 'Be careful of the 1 (Sneaking Uponyou) because I heard that when he gets in front of horses he gets real brave," Orseno added. "Joe said he wouldn't get in front of us. He knows the horse and he wanted the lead and he got it. Terrific ride. For sprinters, this horse is just push-button. This is one of the better sprinters I've had."
Bravo sent Happy My Way to the early lead in the field of five, and never looked back after shooting through a quarter in :22.85 and a half in :45.22. Although Action Andy and Sneaking Uponyou both gave chase, Happy My Way continued to open his advantage coming off the final turn, and blazed for home through five-eighths in :56.88 before galloping beneath the wire under encouragement in 1:09.21.
"It was a pretty easy race for me today," Bravo remarked. "He did all the work. There wasn't much for me to do or think about."
"He tried really hard," jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said of Lemon Drop Dream. "The horse that won is a really nice horse. My horse did everything right today."
Bred in Florida by Mayo West Farm and Liam Benson out of the Holy Bull mare Holy Queen, Happy My Way was a $23,000 purchase by Hidden Brook Farm, agent, from the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training when consigned by Mayo West. The Maryland Sprint 'Cap was his fourth win in his past five starts, and improved his record to 6-2-2 from 15 outings with earnings of $362,485.
Happy My Way returned $3.20, $2.20, and $2.10. Second choice Lemon Drop Dream brought $2.60 and $2.20 at 2-1, while Service for Ten paid $2.20 at 6-1.
Salutos Amigos scratched.